Numbness in Fingers

Numbness or feeling of paresthesia in the fingers may be a transient response to prolong periods of inactivity or sudden exposure to extreme temperature changes; however, it may be an underlying symptom of a more grave and serious pathology. Numbness in fingers is reported in a number of medical, surgical and hormonal conditions. If numbness in finger is followed by other changes in the color of skin or sensations, serious medical intervention must be performed to stop the pathological process from causing permanent damage or destruction of tissues.

Causes of Numbness in Fingers

Numbness in finger is usually a symptom of a transient or serious pathology. In order to relieve the symptoms, it is very important to identify the prime causes and modes of presentation. Few common medical conditions that may present with numbness of fingers are:

1. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome produces characteristic symptoms due to entrapment of median nerve during its exit from carpal tunnel (at the level of wrist joint). Hardcore physical activity, repetitive physical motion of hand or activity at the level of wrist (reported in typists or people who work on computer for long hours) may produce carpal tunnel syndrome. In addition, conditions like pregnancy and hormonal disorders can also lead to carpal tunnel syndrome.

2. Ulnar Nerve Entrapment

Ulnar nerve passes through hands and forearm and usually enters the hand under muscles and tendon sheaths; however, certain activities, posture of hand, traumatic incidents and accidental falls can lead to entrapment of ulnar nerve that may lead to pain, discomfort and sensory deficits of hand muscles in addition to numbness of fingers.

3. Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy suggest acute or chronic damage to nerves (primarily the nerve covering or myelin sheaths) as a result of ongoing inflammatory or autoimmune processes that may lead to numbness and altered sensory (or motor sensations) along the area supplied by affected nerves. If the inciting stimulus is not controlled, the disease process may involve major muscle groups and organs of the body. Peripheral neuropathy may be caused by long standing and poorly controlled diabetes, multiple sclerosis, chronic alcoholism, deficiency of certain micronutrients like Vitamin B12, folate and toxicity of certain heavy metals like mercury.

4. Cervical Spondylosis

Due to degenerative bone disorders (as a result of advancing age, improper posture, certain medical or hormonal disorders like diabetes, osteoporosis, osteopenia, bone tumors), the cervical vertebrae is subjected to excessive wear and tear changes that affects the patency of conduits that allow the passage of cervical nerves. Impingement or entrapment of cervical nerves can also lead to limited mobility of upper limbs, stiffness and pain in addition to numbness of fingers.

5. Poor Circulation

There may be a number of causes of poor circulation that may or may not include the central pumping unit, the heart. During total blockage of or insufficient blood supply to finger, numbness and stiffness in fingers may happen. In severe cases of arrhythmias, the heart may not be able to pump enough blood to the body that can affect the blood flow to the vital organs like brain, heart, and other organs leading to ischemic damage and tissue death.

6. Stroke

Stroke is the consequence of sudden cessation of blood supply to a part of brain that control motor activity of hands. When the ischemic changes are mild, tingling or numbness is the primary symptoms. If no intervention is taken, complete loss of mobility may ensue.

7. Mineral and Vitamin Deficiencies

Deficiency of certain vitamins and minerals may also lead to numbness of fingers by impairing contractility of muscles. These include low levels of calcium (hypocalcemic tetany), deficiency of magnesium and zinc (due aberrations in the transmission of nerve impulses) and vitamin B12 deficiency (sub-acute combine degeneration). Other conditions include vitamin D defects in the setting of chronic renal failure.

8. Diabetic Neuropathy

Long standing and poorly controlled blood sugar levels affect the patency of nerves by accumulation of fluid as a result of osmotic gradient. Other features of diabetic neuropathy include altered sensations, excessive thirst, urination and feeling of fatigue.

9. Other Causes

Other conditions include radiation exposure, certain chemicals and heavy metals, circulatory defects and chronic history of smoking.

Treatments for Numbness in Fingers

Frequent episodes of numbness of fingers evoke a state of panic and anxiety; however, it also indicates an underlying pathology. Following treatment modalities can be employed to manage the symptoms of numbness in fingers:

1. Lifestyle Modification

Lifestyle and behavioral modification may be needed in situation where the symptoms are due to excessive physical activity and pressure inside flexor retinaculum (the soft tissue that allow tendons and nerves to enter hand from forearm). Medications and massage are required to relieve the symptoms of pain and numbness.

2. Exercise Regularly

In order to manage congenital or acquired conditions, physical therapy or relaxations exercises are generally prescribed that are helpful in relieving discomfort. If the disturbing symptoms of tingling or numbness are due to physiological conditions like pregnancy, you can tremendously get help from relaxing and stress relieving exercises

3. Promote Circulation

Impaired circulation affects the patency of nerves and blood vessels. Certain exercises and massage therapies helps in promoting blood supply to the affected limb and stop the progression of any pathological process.

4. Hot and Cold Compress

Hold and cold compresses relieves inflammatory swelling from the tissues (that helps in promoting blood supply to the affected region in order to enhance the pace of numbness recovery), in addition cold and hot compresses also helps in healing of nerves by reducing swelling and damage induced by trauma.

5. Change Your Diet

For permanent changes in the blood circulation, you have to modify your diet to low cholesterol, high fiber and high antioxidant foods. In addition, quit smoking and improve your lifestyle habits in order to control your blood pressure and serum cholesterol concentration.

6. Take Supplements

Consider taking a multi-vitamin supplement and seek the assistance of your healthcare provider to know more about what dietary supplements are best for you.

Yoga for Relieving Numbness in Fingers

Yoga and meditation is also helpful in promoting circulation and increase the stimulatory effect of nerves. Review the video below to learn effective yoga exercises to relieve numbness.

When to See a Doctor

Seek help from your healthcare provider if:

  • You are developing frequent episodes.
  • If there is no possible explanation of numbness of fingers (like prolonged inactivity).
  • If you are experiencing pain, stiffness, altered level of consciousness and other serious symptoms with numbness of fingers.
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