Causes of Numb Hands

Chandramita Bora May 4, 2019
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Numbness in hands can be described as a loss of sensation in the hands, which can be a sign of several health conditions, including strokes, diabetes, an injury to the nerves, and carpal tunnel syndrome. Know more about this condition, through this write-up.
Hand paresthesia or hand numbness is an unusual and annoying condition, that can be described as a loss of sensation in the hands. Sometimes, numb hands can be accompanied by a tingling or stinging sensation as well.
Numbness can be felt in one or both the hands, along with the fingers. Conditions like keeping the hands in the same position for a long time, as well as serious health problems like strokes and diabetes can cause hand paresthesia.

Numbness in Hands

Causes

Hand paresthesia can develop gradually or all of a sudden, and it may be accompanied by some additional symptoms, like a tingling or burning sensation, and pain and weakness in the hands. Conditions that are commonly found to be associated with hand numbness are:
  • Keeping the arms and hands in a single position for a long time can cause hand numbness. This is more commonly observed in people who keep their hands rested under the head or pillow while sleeping.
  • Any kind of nerve injury or nerve impingement in the neck region can also produce numbness and a tingling sensation in the hands.
  • When blood supply to the hands is interrupted, especially when they are kept above heart level, it can cause numbness in fingers and hands.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome is characterized by compression of a nerve in the carpal tunnel, located in the wrist. Those affected often experience numbness in their hands while sleeping, or after waking up in the morning.
  • Another condition is Raynaud's syndrome or phenomenon, that can cause numbness in the extremities of the body, like the hands, fingers, and the feet. It is caused by the constriction of the blood vessels in the extremities of the body, especially when an individual is exposed to extreme cold and stress.
  • Many times, hand numbness can be a sign of an impending stroke, especially when it occurs all of a sudden and is accompanied by symptoms like sharp pain in the arms.
  • If you experience hand numbness while cycling, then it can be ulnar neuropathy, which is caused by an injury to the ulnar nerve. It can result from the direct pressure applied on the ulnar nerve while gripping the handlebar of the cycle. This condition is also known as 'cyclist's palsy'.
  • Apart from these, hand numbness can be a sign of some other conditions, including diabetes, a deficiency of vitamin B12, seizures, multiple sclerosis, peripheral neuropathy, a herniated disc, migraines, and hypothyroidism.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Physicians usually diagnose this condition with the help of a thorough neurological examination, electromyography, thyroid function test, cold stimulation test, nerve biopsy, nerve conduction velocity test, MRI and CT scan of the head and the spine, angiogram, myelography, and X-rays of the affected area.
These tests help detect the underlying conditions, and develop an appropriate treatment plan. If numb hands are not caused by any major health problem, then it can be alleviated by taking rest and sleeping in a correct position. In the long run, exercise and physical therapy can help manage this condition.
However, if numb hands are a symptom of a serious health problem, then a completely different approach can be required to treat this condition. So, talk to your physician, if you are suffering from hand numbness for a prolonged time period.
Disclaimer: This is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for professional medical advice.
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