What is Hand numbness and Tingling?
Usually, our nerves have several main functions. Nerves transmit nerve impulses from the central nervous system to the periphery. The information then directs a muscle to move, regulates blood flow and provides sensation to a body region. These nerves are distributed from the brain to the spinal cord, with 5 of them commencing at the spinal cord in the neck which undergo a multiple sequence of branches in the axilla, and branch out all the way through the fingertips into 3 major nerves namely the median, ulnar and the radial nerves. These pathways provide strength and sensitivity to the hand. Tingling and numbness in the hands are manifested when there is injury to any of these nerve pathways.
Numbness and tingling with irregular frequency is an ordinary bodily event which does not automatically point out a causal medical condition. In most cases, numbness and tingling is a result of sitting and standing for long hours, trauma, pressure or compression placed on the nerves. If the symptom becomes habitual, this could signify a more serious problem.
This sign means lessened or absent sensitivity. There is no pain but this can be very upsetting. If the origin is trauma to the nerves, however, pain can be very severe.
To guarantee that appropriate or the best possible treatment is rendered, the patient must first be examined to establish the presence of nerve damage, and if there really is, then the cause of injury and the affected nerve can then be identified. The earlier the disease is acknowledged, the easier it is to prevent more nerve injury and reverse the course of disease with patients requiring minimal interventions. The later it is identified and treated, the lesser the chances of getting better and affected individuals may necessitate more invasive approaches which could have been prevented if known and treated in the early stage of the disease.
The list below enumerates the possible causes of hand numbness and tingling;
- Nerve injury - For instance, ulnar nerve injury that results from leaning on the elbow
- Double crush injury - In double crush injury, a nerve that is compromised in one region may affect the functioning of the other nerves all over its whole length. Neck injury for example, can lead to decreased or absent sensation anywhere down the length of the arm and hand.
- Pressure that is placed on the peripheral nerves from inflamed blood vessels, swelling, scar tissue, or infection
- Compression of the ulnar nerve
- Inadequate blood supply and circulation due to atherosclerosis or frostbite
- Vitamin B12 deficiency
- Drugs such as antineoplastic agents can lead to hand paresthesias. Several cases result to a temporary numbness which resolves after chemotherapy.
- Excessive Alcohol Consumption
- Irregular calcium, potassium, or sodium levels
- Insect bites
- Cervical spondylosis - This condition is characterized by the degeneration of intervertebral disks in the neck area of the spinal column.
- Guillain-Barre Syndrome
- Amyloidosis - It is a medical condition marked by amyloid build-up in the organs and tissues, a protein-based matter.
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome - Situated on the palm side of the wrist is a fine vessel known as the carpal tunnel. This provides protection to the primary nerve linking the 9 tendons to the hands. After a while, when the nerves are subjected to pressure, the patient complains of lack of sensation, pain, tingling and weakness. This syndrome is frequently due to injury of the median nerve by repetitive, dynamic and uncomfortable bending and straightening movements of the hand and the wrist. The tissues or tendons become irritated or inflamed causing median nerve compression. Commonly affected people with excessively stressful lifestyle, those who use the computer more often or those involved in activities that involve repetitive motions of the hands.
- Raynaud’s phenomenon - Most often seen in young females, this chronic disorder is characterized by a reduction on the supply of blood to the extremities because of episodic spasms of the blood vessels when exposed to cold environment.
- Hypothyroidism – The thyroid gland is brownish red, butterfly shaped endocrine gland positioned in front and on the side of the thyroid cartilage which secretes hormone responsible for growth and metabolism. Inflammation in this organ due to certain drugs, autoimmunity, radiation, virus and congenital abnormalities is the primary cause of hypothyroidism.
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Diabetic neuropathy
- Neurofriboma located in the finger
- Damage to the spinal cord
- Cerebrovascular accidents
- Peripheral Vascular Disease
In this condition, the arteries become narrowed because of the accumulation of fat and cholesterol on the walls of the arteries, thus restricting blood circulation to the extremities
If this condition is neglected, the consequence will still depend on the clinical finding. Several symptoms will easily resolve, while other cases will make progress. Therefore, medical guidance is a must.
- For bilateral hand numbness ang tingling, treatment will depend on the principal cause. Usually, this is treated with vitamin supplements, corticosteroids, thorough blood sugar control in diabetes and surgical approach.
- Drugs which cause paresthesias may be substituted or discontinued with a doctor’s verdict.
- Because paresthesias result to a decreased sensation in the hands or in other areas, patients are potential to injure the skin unintentionally. These prone areas should be protected from contusions, burns and other skin damages.
- If the cause is hypothyroidism, patients are treated with hormone replacement drugs, levothyroxine for instance.
- Patient may engage in physical and occupational therapies.
- If there is moderate to severe pain, the physician may order narcotic drugs for short term use.
Treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- For patients with carpal tunnel syndrome or low back pain, the physician may suggest particular workouts.
- Numerous patients achieve relief by splinting the wrist to immobilize it.
- To reduce inflammation, the patient is given with steroids and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen and naproxen.
- If severe, individuals may need to decide to go through a surgical operation.
Treatment for Raynaud’s phenomenon
- Cigarette smoking cessation is important as smoking significantly reduces blood flow to the extremities.
- Avoid consumption of caffeine.
- Avoid exposure to cold environment and surfaces.
- Put on comfortable clothing which does not constrict the circulation of blood.