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Tingling in Hands at Night

Smita Pandit Jun 18, 2019
Abnormal skin sensation such as tingling or numbness are referred to as paresthesia. Here, we provide some information on the contributing factors of tingling in hands at night.
Transient numbness or tingling is usually not a cause of serious concern, but if one often experiences the 'pins and needle sensation', it is advisable to consult a doctor. Though any part of the body could get affected by this condition, people often complain about experiencing tingling sensation in lower extremities.
More often than not, poor circulation and wrong posture are the contributing factors. However, such abnormal sensations could occur due to neurological disorders. If the tingling sensation in hands is experienced at night, it could lead to disturbed sleep.

Contributing Factors

Tingling sensation or numbness in arms or hands could be caused due to the following reasons:

Sleeping Posture

At times, people who have a habit of sleeping on their side, unknowingly, put all their weight on their arm. This can cause that particular hand to fall asleep. If you are a side-sleeper, then you must make sure that you sleep in an appropriate manner.
Sleeping with bent elbows, or arms curled beneath the body can reduce the supply of oxygenated blood to the arms, which in turn can cause numbness.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is associated with the compression of the median nerve that is located at the base of the hand or the wrist. The median nerve carries motor as well as sensory fibers. One's ability to move the wrist or grip objects will get affected, if this nerve gets compressed or entrapped.
Since it also carries sensory fibers, the nerve entrapment also results in a loss of sensation around this region. Numbness in the hands or arms is one of the common symptoms of this condition. If one's line of work involves repetitive hand movements, one is at an increased risk of developing this condition.
This is the reason why tennis players, golfers, hairdressers, construction workers, musicians, or carpenters are quite susceptible to this condition. Other risk factors include rheumatoid arthritis, hypothyroidism, diabetes, or Raynaud's disease.

Ulnar Nerve Entrapment

Ulnar nerve runs around the ulna bone, which is one of the two long bones present in the forearm. This nerve may get entrapped due to the presence of a ganglion cyst. The nerve may also get compressed if one sleeps with his/her elbow in a bent position. This may cause tingling sensation in hands at night.
Since the sensory fibers carried by the nerve provide sensation to the little finger and the ring finger, a compressed ulnar nerve often causes loss of sensation in these two fingers.
One may also face difficulty spreading the fingers and coordinating one's fingers while playing instruments or typing. People affected by thyroid disorders, diabetes, or arthritis and alcoholics are more susceptible to this condition.

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

Thoracic outlet is a small area located between the collarbone and the rib cage. Blood vessels and nerves from the spine travel through this narrow space before reaching the arms. If the blood vessels or nerves passing through the thoracic outlet get compressed, one is most likely to experience numbness in hands.
People born with a small extra rib above the first rib are most likely to develop this condition. Surgical removal of this cervical rib can help in the treatment of thoracic outlet syndrome.

Diabetic Neuropathy

Besides pinched nerves or trauma to the nerves that supply sensation to hands or arms, the nerves fibers may get damaged due to elevated blood sugar levels. This condition is medically referred to as diabetic neuropathy.
This is a complication of diabetes, which usually affects the nerves in the lower extremities, but at times, it may cause numbness in hands as well. The only way to prevent this condition is to control blood sugar levels.
Since paresthesia could be caused by wide range if reasons, the treatment will vary depending on the underlying cause. Though performing certain exercises will help to improve the blood circulation in hands, one must refrain from performing activities that cause repetitive strain on hands.
Those who have been diagnosed with medical conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome, circulatory disorders, diabetic neuropathy, or peripheral vascular disease must follow the guidelines given by the doctors.
Drug therapy and lifestyle-related changes can certainly help in alleviating the symptoms of these conditions, which in turn, will help in treating the discomforting tingling sensation in hands or lower extremities at night.
Disclaimer: The information provided here is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.