Numbness in Fingers

Numbness in the fingers is a symptom that requires to be given immediate attention, as it mostly points towards a serious underlying disease. Read on to know about the possible causes of this condition.
Dr. Sumaiya Khan Apr 16, 2019
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Numbness in fingers is a common and annoying complaint that a lot of patients present with. This is simply a symptom that is often associated with a neurogenic debilitating disease, or it may also occur due to restricted blood supply in the fingers.
Either way, loss of sensation or a tingling sensation in the fingers and toes is a serious symptom which needs to be taken seriously, as any kind of neuropathic disorder needs to diagnosed and treated at the earliest, lest the neuropathy further causes degeneration of the entire arm.

Causes

Neuropathy or restricted blood flow are the major contributory factors. Here is a list of common causes:
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition wherein there is pinching of the nerve present between the radius and ulna. The medial nerve gets compressed due to which, the sensation in the fingers is considerably reduced.
  • Radiculopathy is a condition where there is a compression of a nerve in the spine, due to which there is reduced sensation in the peripherals. It can occur anywhere along the spine, but cervical radiculopathy is a condition where the nerves emanating from in between the cervical vertebrae get compressed, leading to finger numbness.
  • Leprosy is a condition where the bacteria enter the cells and lodge themselves there, leading to physical deformities and paresthesia (abnormal skin sensations). Leprosy is mostly seen in third world countries.
  • Thoracic outlet syndrome is a condition wherein there is compression of the nerves, blood vessels or both during their exit from the thoracic outlet, that is the base of the neck to the arm. Due to this, there is a tingling sensation in the fingertips and other extremities.
  • Frostbite could also be a cause. In extreme cold, blood vessels get constricted to such an extent that blood supply is nearly completely cut off in the peripherals. The initial symptom of frostbite is numbness, pain and burning sensation due to decreased blood supply. Eventually, there is complete loss of sensation in fingers, if it is not treated at once.
  • Peripheral vascular disease occurs mostly due to atherosclerosis, that is, when hard cholesterol deposits occur on the inner arterial wall. It leads to restricted blood supply to the extremities. When the arteries involved become partially or completely blocked, then it is known as peripheral artery disease.
  • Diabetic neuropathy is a condition where there is nerve damage, and it is seen in advanced stages of uncontrolled diabetes. In this condition, there is a complete or partial loss of sensation as well, while some patients complain of pain in foot, which can eventually transgress into diabetic foot.
  • Constriction of blood vessels of fingers and toes leads to a condition called Raynaud's syndrome. It leads to blanching or whitening in fingers, which is accompanied by paresthesia.
  • Arthritis in fingers is also a reason for the numbing sensation in fingers. In fact, it is followed by pain in the fingers' joints.

Other Potential Causes

  • Sitting or standing in the same position for a long period
  • Lack of vitamin B12 or deficiency in calcium, magnesium or potassium
  • Excessive smoking or tremendous alcohol consumption
  • Animal or insect bites
  • Toxins in seafood

Treatment

Treatment depends on the underlying condition. For severe diabetes symptoms, one should immediately try to lower his blood sugar and cholesterol. For nerve compression in the spine or peripheries, consult a doctor to help you with exercises/physical therapy. In severe cases, surgery may be needed. Low vitamin levels can be treated with vitamin supplements.
Although numbness in the fingers is only a symptom, it should not be taken lightly, as any kind of problem present in nerves or blood vessels can lead to a loss of sensation or a pins-and-needles sensation in the fingers.
Also, as a decrease in feeling is experienced, the chances of getting an injury in that area is high. Thus, if this symptom is seen, it is advisable to go to a doctor, and get the condition diagnosed and treated at the earliest.
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