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Hand Numbness

What is hand numbness?

Hand numbness is a loss of feeling or sensation to the digits or the entire hand. Numbness may be associated with tingling (paresthesias), aching or burning pain and weakness. Numbness usually signifies irritation or pressure on a nerve at a point where the nerve travels from the spine to the finger tips. In some cases sudden numbness involving the entire upper extremity along with headaches, dizziness and speech abnormality may result from a stroke. If this is the case, seek emergency help immediately.


What are the causes of hand numbness?

The most common cause of hand numbness, assuming no underlying trauma with a nerve laceration,  are nerve entrapment syndromes from compression of a nerve where it courses through a tight anatomical space: carpal tunnel syndrome, cubital tunnel syndromeradial tunnel syndrome and thoracic outlet syndrome. Hand numbness is also commonly caused by cervical radiculapathy or stenosis due to compression in the neck of an individual spinal nerve root or the entire spinal cord.

Other causes to consider: alcoholism, amyloidosis, brachial plexus injuries, Diabetes, Guillan-Barre syndrome, HIV/AIDS, Lyme disease, paraneoplastic syndromes, peripheral neuropathy, Raynaud’s, chemotherapy drugs, Sjogren’s syndrome, stroke, syphilis, syringomyelia, thyroids disease, vasculitis and vitamin B-12 deficiency.


What are the symptoms of hand numbness?

Hand numbness is a loss of feeling or sensation in either part of the hand at the tip of one finger to multiple digits to the entire hand. It is frequently accompanied by tingling (paresthesias), pain and weakness.


How is hand numbness diagnosed?

In addition to a careful clinical history, an examination will reveal a loss of sensation in a certain part of or the entire hand. Additionally, there are provocative tests to determine if there is peripheral nerve involvement such as carpal tunnel syndrome with a positive Tinel’s sign overlying the irritable nerve.

Additional tests such as electrodiagnostic testing (NCV/EMG) and an MRI will frequently assist in the diagnosis. Laboratory analysis may also be beneficial particularly if there is an underlying metabolic abnormality.


Treatment Options

Non-surgical  treatment of hand numbness:

Hand numbness  usually will resolve with conservative treatment by resting the area of compression such as carpal tunnel syndrome or making sure all metabolic abnormalities are corrected. Steroid injections may also reduce nerve pressure in the upper extremity or cervical spine.

Surgical treatment of hand numbness:

Surgery may be necessary in compressive nerve abnormalities to resolve the hand numbness by relieving pressure on the tight space such as in a carpal tunnel release for carpal tunnel syndrome. It may also be necessary if there is a tumor putting pressure on a nerve.


How can Dr. Knight help you with hand numbness?

Dr. Knight has extensive experience in the treatment of hand numbness. He will quickly work up your condition to determine the cause. If metabolic in origin, he will consult with internal medicine specialists to get you the care you need. If there is nerve compression, he will usually cure this with rest, splinting, medication and therapy. If necessary, he will perform minimally invasive surgery to relieve the pressure and prevent permanent damage from occurring.


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HandAndWristInstitute.com does not offer medical advice. The information presented here is offered for informational purposes only. Read Disclaimer