Are you experiencing numbness in your fingers and not sure whether to be concerned or not? Numbness in the fingers can be described as my hand fell asleep or pins and needles throughout your fingers. Besides a tingling sensation, you may have the inability to grip. These can be a result of a minor ailment or serious health condition. If you have experienced these symptoms, continue reading to learn about causes and risks associated with numbness. It might be time to see your medical provider.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is widespread, especially in those who perform repetitive motions with their wrists. Usually, carpal tunnel occurs in the median nerve, which runs from the forearm to the hand. The median nerve is crucial because it provides feeling to the palm side of hands and fingers. When this particular nerve becomes irritated or inflamed, it narrows the carpal tunnel, resulting in numbness in the hand and fingers. Risk factors for developing carpal tunnel syndrome include anatomic factors such as bone and nerve structure, obesity, nerve-damaging conditions, and inflammatory conditions.
Chronic alcohol consumption may cause damage to the central nervous system. This health issue is called alcoholic neuropathy. It is a result of excessive alcohol, which leads to poor diet and vitamin deficiency. When alcoholic neuropathy occurs, there are many symptoms. They include numbness in hands, fingers, arms, legs, feet, toes, muscle spasms and cramps, impaired speech, incontinence, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.
Guillain-Barre syndrome is a rare disorder that occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the nerves. The immediate symptoms include weakness, numbness, and tingling in the extremities such as arms, legs, fingers, and toes. If medical attention is not sought immediately, Guillain-Barre syndrome can even paralyze the body. The cause of Guillain-Barre is unknown but is believed to be related to respiratory infections and the stomach flu. Other symptoms include rapid heart rate, difficulty breathing, unsteady walking, difficulty with bladder control, and severe pain. Most people with Guillain-Barre syndrome will need to be hospitalized for treatment and will make a full recovery; however, some may experience lifelong lingering numbness, weakness, or fatigue.
Those affected by Raynaud’s disease will experience numbness in fingers and toes when exposed to cold temperatures or stress. Raynaud’s is the result of small arteries that limit blood flow to fingers and toes. Symptoms of Raynaud’s include cold to the touch and a change in color of the affected area, turning white or blue. As stress releases or the affected area becomes warm, there will become numbness with sharp prickly pain. It can take up to fifteen minutes for blood flow to return to the affected areas. Although Raynaud’s is most common in fingers and toes, it can also affect other areas including the nose, ears, and lips. This disease is most common in women.
When the blood supply to part of the brain is disrupted, reducing oxygen and nutrients, a stroke will occur. Strokes are a medical emergency and can start causing damage within minutes of a blood supply disruption to the brain. Symptoms to check for include trouble speaking, numbness in fingers, arms, legs, fingers, and toes, difficulty seeing, loss of coordination, and headaches. If you believe someone near you is having a stroke, act “FAST.”
Act “FAST” stands for face, arms, speech, and time. Ask the person to smile, raise their arms, or repeat a simple phrase. If one side of the face is droopy, one arm or both are unable to raise, or they cannot repeat the phrase properly, get them medical attention immediately!
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the protective covering of the nerves, affecting communication between the body and the brain. Symptoms of MS include numbness or weakness in arms, legs, fingers, toes, or one side of the body, double vision, slurred speech, fatigue, problems with bladder functions, and dizziness. It is a disabling disease, making it extremely important to visit a doctor if you or anyone you know displays any of these symptoms. The cause of the disease is unknown, but risk factors include family history, certain infections, and smoking. White females between the ages of 15 and 60 who live in Canada, northern United States, New Zealand, and southeastern Australia and Europe may also have a greater chance of developing Multiple Sclerosis.
Spinal Cord Injury
Spinal cord injuries are a result of damage to the spinal cord nerves. They usually have a permanent effect on strength, sensation, and other body functions below the point of injury. For example, if the injury occurs at the top of the spinal cord, body functions may be affected from the neck down. An injury at the bottom of the spinal cord might affect body functions from the waist down. Because the injury is affecting the spinal cord and nerves, it can cause weakness and numbness in all areas of the body including arms, fingers, legs, and toes. Spinal cord injuries are often disabling.
Visit Your Doctor
All causes of numbness in fingers are very different; however, if you experience numbness in the fingers for a prolonged period, it is best to seek medical help. If other symptoms accompany numbness, make sure you consult with a doctor right away. Signs to check for include confusion, loss of coordination, difficulty breathing, slurred speech, sudden weakness, and severe headaches.
To diagnose the cause of finger numbness, a doctor will ask for medical history and perform a physical exam. Blood tests can also be done to diagnose finger numbness caused by vitamin deficiencies or certain diseases. If the medical provider cannot diagnose the cause, they may refer you to a specialist. For example, an orthopedic doctor is a specialist in caring for hands while a neurologist is a specialist in nerve function. Both might give better insight into your particular condition.
Finger numbness, not accompanied by other symptoms, is usually curable through rest and recovery. If you knowingly injured your finger, several at-home remedies can help with the pain and swelling including ice and over-the-counter medication. However, finger numbness is usually a result of an underlying syndrome or disease. As mentioned before, if finger numbness is associated with other symptoms, see a doctor immediately as it could be disabling. Each underlying syndromes and disease come with their own risks.