Arm Numbness, Tingling Hands and Fingers – Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

Tingling sensation in hands and fingers are not always a matter of concern, if you experience it occasionally. However if the symptoms of numbness in hands are persistent you need to consult your GP. It can be due to lack of blood flow to the nerves or any other serious condition. Too much of pressure exerted on the nerve can cause temporary numbness in the affected area. Numbness feeling can also be experienced in many forms like “pins and needles” or tingling sensation.

Numbness in arms and feet can be often temporary but for some people it can be episodic or persistent. Hand numbness can be with other symptoms like itching, burning pain and muscle weakness. Nerve damage is the main cause of numbness. Diagnosis can be made with blood tests, nerve conduction test and other imaging study. Treatment of numbness of hands depends on the cause and often the symptoms can be managed.

Arm Numbness

Symptoms :

Sudden numbness can be felt in hands and fingers. The affected person may not be able to lift/hold any object in his hand or he may lose the grip letting the objects fall. Some people may experience tingling sensation in fingers. Sleeping in the arms can cause numbness which may last for few minutes. However for some people numbness or tingling feeling can become a nuisance interrupting with daily life. The feeling of numbness after nerve injury is potentially serious. Severe nerve damage may have occurred in the affected hand or fingers.

Tingling Hands and Fingers

Causes :

Pressure exerted on the nerve can cause temporary numbness which gets resolved once the pressure is relieved. Nerve compression in the arm can cause temporary numbness. Occasional numbness can be due to vitamin deficiency. Prolonged diabetes can affect the nerves on the extremes of the body causing nerve damage. This is known as peripheral neuropathy which causes loss of sensation in hands and feet. In many cases numbness can become permanent and irreversible if the nerve damage is severe. Millions of Americans with diabetes have peripheral neuropathy leading to decreased mobility in hands.

Carpel tunnel syndrome, viral infection, nerve injuries, stress injuries and exposure to toxins can cause numbness in hands and fingers. In rare cases certain problems in the brain/spine can weaken the hands leading to numbness. Often numbness in hands is accompanied with loss of feeling in foot. Sudden stroke can cause such symptoms. Chronic alcohol consumption can cause numbness in hands and feet. Other factors that cause numbness in hands include amyloidosis, cervical spondylosis, brachial plexus injury and formation of ganglion cysts. Multiple sclerosis, Guillain Barre syndrome, Raynaud’s syndrome and Lyme disease can also cause tingling sensation or numbness.

Tests :

Your doctor would complete physical examination and would collect information about intensity of numbness. He may order for blood tests to check the levels of vitamins, ions and to monitor any abnormality in immune system. Lumbar puncture may be done to collect cerebrospinal fluid and presence of antibodies in it indicates peripheral neuropathy. EMG or nerve conduction study is done in many cases. To get clear picture about the extent of nerve damage CT/MRI scan would be done.

Tingling Hands and Fingers

Treatment :

Resolving the problem of numbness would be easy if accurate diagnosis is made. You can get back the sensation in your hands if peripheral nerve cells have not been damaged badly. The extent of complete recovery depends on the extent of nerve cells damage. For some people if peripheral neuropathy has badly damaged the nerve cells it can reduce the mobility of hands. If blood sugar is the actual cause of numbness suitable drugs are prescribed to bring sugar under control. Vitamin deficiency can be corrected by taking supplementary vitamins and by eating balanced diet. Prescription medications given for seizure and depression are effective in managing numbness in hands and legs.

Lifestyle Changes :

  • Eat healthy diet and do regular exercises.
  • If you are above 50 years check the blood sugar level once in 6 months. For people with diabetes regular checking of blood sugar becomes absolutely necessary.
  • Maintain a healthy weight since obesity can cause hypertension and diabetes.

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