Numb fingers, as the name suggests, refers to the condition wherein you lose sensation in your digits. Apart from the fingers, the problem of numbness can affect other body parts like the hands, legs and shoulders. As I have said, if you have infrequent attacks of numbness, then you should not worry. However, if you realize that it is getting way too frequent, and is also causing other abnormal symptoms, then you might suspect some underlying neural conditions affecting you.
Technically, numbness in finger is not a condition, but a symptom of something else. It might be accompanied by other symptoms like weakness, tingling sensations, sharp pain and perhaps, a burning sensation in the fingers. Some people also come up with complaints about having numb fingertips too.
Most mild cases of numb fingers may arise due to inappropriate sleeping positions. It may happen that you unconsciously place your hands beneath your body while sleeping. Doing this may cause a lack of blood supply to the arm, resulting in pain and numbness in the arm including the fingers. Some people have the habit to wear straps for prolonged period. So it is common for their fingers to feel numb. Cases like these get resolved on their own once the arm is placed in a normal position, or the strap is removed.
Frequent episodes of the fingers going numb may indicate certain underlying medical conditions in the body. Common ones include alcohol abuse, type 2 diabetes, HIV/AIDS, and injury to the spinal cord. Apart from these, conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome (a disorder that occurs due to compression in the nerve in the carpal tunnel; causes profound pain and in some cases numbness too), Raynaud's syndrome (causes different body parts to go numb in response to cold temperatures or stress), stroke, and B-12 deficiency are also listed as the possible causes of the same. Numb fingers during pregnancy, according to experts, is most often caused by carpal tunnel syndrome.
Other causes of fingers or toes going numb may include:
- Lyme disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Cervical spondylosis
- Ganglion cysts
- Guillain-Barre syndrome (a rare autoimmune disorder where the immune system of the body attacks the nerves)
- Broken shoulder-blade
- Drugs administered in chemotherapy
- Syringomyelia (formation of fluid-filled cyst within the spinal cord)
- Sjogren's syndrome
Most people stay dubious about when is the right time that they should pay a visit to a doctor. According to experts, if patients are not able to move their limbs, have lost their bladder control, experience changes in vision, or face difficulty in walking or speaking, then they have enough reasons to make way for emergency medical help.
Treatment of numb fingers or any part of the body is decided by the severity of the condition. For example, if carpal tunnel syndrome has been found to be the cause, then the patient would be recommended to follow some arm exercises. Use of non-steroid anti-rheumatic drugs may be an important part of the treatment too. Apart from this, it is really important for the patient to take ample amount of rest while he/she is healing. Going for physical therapy classes aids to the muscle strength and improves the range of motion.
Patients can make use of ice packs to reduce the numbness, as it improves the blood circulation. Also, massaging the numbed part helps a lot in most cases. To give you some prevention tips, sleep in a proper posture, avoid placing your hands behind the back of the chair, and avoid working with electric screw drivers if you are prone to this ailment. And in case you have Raynaud's disease, make use of warm gloves at low temperatures.