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What is Hand Numbness?

Hand numbness, also known as paresthesia of the hand, is an abnormal condition characterized by loss of sensation in the hand as a result of compression, injury, or irritation of a nerve or branch of nerves in the hand. The numbness may occur in one or both hands.

Causes of Hand Numbness

The damage or irritation to the nerves of the hands leading to hand numbness may be caused due to:

  • A herniated disc in the cervical spine
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Stroke
  • Hand injury
  • Cervical spondylosis
  • Ulnar nerve entrapment
  • Side effects of chemotherapy
  • Diabetes
  • Incorrect sleeping posture
  • Poor blood circulation
  • Vasculitis
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Infection
  • Autoimmune disorders

Symptoms accompanying Hand Numbness

Some of the common symptoms of hand numbness include:

  • Burning sensation
  • Neck pain
  • Muscle spasms
  • Pain in wrist, arm, and fingers
  • Twitching
  • Tingling sensation
  • Sensitivity to touch
  • Loss of strength

Diagnosis of Hand Numbness

Your doctor will review your medical history and symptoms and based on this a physical examination will be performed. Your doctor may also recommend the following diagnostic test:

  • X-rays: This study produces images of the bones and helps to detect fractures using electromagnetic beams.
  • MRI Scan: This is an imaging study that uses a large magnetic field and radio waves to detect any damage to the soft tissues.
  • Ultrasound: This study uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of the tissues.
  • Blood tests: Blood tests are performed to look for certain substances in the blood that can indicate infection or disease.
  • Electromyography: This method involves the use of small electrodes inserted into the muscles to record electrical activity.
  • Lumbar puncture: Also known as a spinal tap, the procedure involves aspiration of fluid from the spinal canal, which is analyzed to detect inflammation or the presence of any antibodies which might indicate infection.

Treatment for Hand Numbness

Treatment measures for hand numbness include:

  • Medications: Your doctor will recommend certain over-the-counter medications to reduce inflammation and pain.
  • Physical therapy: Your doctor will recommend special exercises and other treatments such as the wrist or elbow braces to relieve pain and reduce pressure on the nerves. Avoidance of activities that worsen symptoms and the application of ice to relieve pain and inflammation may also be recommended.
  • Surgery: Your doctor will recommend surgery in rare cases. The various options include:
    • Carpal Tunnel Surgery: Your surgeon will make a small incision in the palm over the carpal tunnel ligament and will cut through it to relieve the pressure on the median nerve.
    • Cervical Spine Surgery: In this method, weak cervical vertebrae will be fused with adjacent vertebrae to provide stability and to prevent injury to the cervical nerve roots in the spinal cord.