It is scary to experience numb fingertips, but it is not always a cause for concern. Carpal tunnel syndrome, which affects the wrist, is most likely to cause numbness in the fingertips. Despite the discomfort, it is very treatable.
Other conditions can also cause numb fingertips, such as Raynaud's phenomenon, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and fibromyalgia. This article aims to explain the most common causes of numb fingertips. Additionally, I will answer frequently asked questions and discuss when to see a doctor.
Many conditions can cause numb fingertips. In some cases, the hands and fingers are affected explicitly, such as carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS).
There are other diseases, like diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis, which can affect the whole body, but numbness in the fingers can also be a symptom. Several possible causes of numb fingertips will be discussed in this section.
4-10 million Americans suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), a nerve disorder that causes numbness in the fingertips.
CTS is more common in middle-aged and older individuals.
CTS still needs to be fully understood, but repetitive motions might contribute. There is a higher risk for people doing repetitive work movements, such as typing or using a computer mouse.
There is a range of severity when it comes to CTS.
A mild case might cause occasional numbness at the tips of your fingers. Hand sensation can be lost in severe cases of CTS.
Affected hands can present with one or both symptoms. The symptoms often start in the dominant hand. It is common to wake up with stiffness and discomfort following overnight symptoms.
A doctor usually checks for other causes of hand and finger numbness before diagnosing CTS-arthritis, nerve entrapment, and other conditions I'll discuss later are all possible suspects.
When the nerves in the neck are compressed or irritated, it is known as cervical radiculopathy or "pinched nerve."
The symptoms may include tingling, numbness, weakness, and pins and needles. It may also be painful. There may be a pain in one place that moves to another. You may be experiencing pain that radiates down your arm, through your hand, and to your fingers due to a pinched nerve in your shoulder.
There is usually only one side of the body affected by cervical radiculopathy. People who suffer from this condition typically don't need to see a doctor. Pinched nerves usually resolve themselves independently in a few days or weeks. Consult your doctor if it does not improve or continues to come back.
The fingers can sometimes become numb as a result of diabetes. The legs and feet, however, are more commonly affected. Diabetes can lead to poor circulation over time. As a result, you may experience cold feet and hands, dry skin, numbness, and slow wound healing.
A chronic disease such as diabetes occurs when the body can't regulate the amount of sugar in the blood. Taking glucose-lowering medications and monitoring blood sugar are essential for people with diabetes.
It is very common to suffer from Raynaud's disease, also known as Raynaud's phenomenon. The disease affects 10% of the population, so you know someone is suffering. Cold or stress can cause the fingers and toes of people with Raynaud's disease to turn white, blue, or red. Numbness, tingling, and pain can also occur.
There is a reduction in blood flow due to spasms in capillaries (small blood vessels). With lifestyle changes, Raynaud's can be managed for most people. They are recommended to wear mittens and gloves, bring hand warmers to cold places, and try to reduce stress whenever possible. Smoking cessation can also be helpful.
You may need medication if these changes don't help. Angiotensin-receptor blockers and calcium channel blockers may be recommended.
A chronic inflammatory disease, rheumatoid arthritis causes joint pain and stiffness. A person with this disease will have their immune system attack healthy tissues because it's an autoimmune disease.
One to five per cent of people with rheumatoid arthritis acquires CTS, even though it does not cause numbness in the fingertips. Arthritis usually starts in the hands.
Your hands may be red, swollen, and weak. Medication and lifestyle changes may manage the symptoms, although they vary from person to person.
The term compression neuropathy refers to nerve damage caused by pressure. Ulnar nerve entrapment is one type of compression neuropathy that results in numbness in the pinky finger. Many factors can cause compression neuropathy; sometimes no clear cause can be found. A thickened tendon lining, injuries, and soft tissue masses are some reasons it occurs. Treatment includes physical and occupational therapy, pain relief medication, and splints or braces.
Let's now look at some less likely causes of numb fingertips. Numb fingertips can be caused by various conditions, medications, and infections; however, if you have numb fingertips, don't assume you have one of these conditions.
If you suffer from one of these symptoms, this section may help you identify a cause—for example, if you're on cancer medication, it might be causing your numbness and tingling.
The conditions discussed above are common causes, but various other factors can also cause fingertip numbness. The following are among them:
Fingertip numbness caused by an infection is rare but can occur in rare cases. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as syphilis can cause this. Small sores and ulcers are the primary syphilis symptoms and can appear on the penis, the vagina, or the anus. They can also develop on the lips and mouth.
Syphilis sores tend to be firm and round and are usually painless. You should contact your doctor if a small, open sore does not disappear. A rash, fever, fatigue, and swollen lymph nodes are common symptoms.
Certain medications can sometimes cause fingertip numbness. Cancer treatment drugs can cause numbness and tingling in the hands.
Numbness has been associated with chemotherapy drugs such as:
After discontinuing the medication, these symptoms should disappear.
Many causes of fingertip numbness are self-resolving, but some require medical attention. Symptoms can be evaluated, diagnosed, and treatment prescribed by a healthcare provider.
If you experience any of these symptoms, you should see your doctor:
The severity of some symptoms indicates that you should seek treatment as soon as possible.
Emergency care should be sought if you experience any of the following:
What does numbness in your fingertips mean?
Having mild numbness in your fingertips is nothing to worry about. Carpal tunnel syndrome is the most common cause, which improves with rest. However, you may need to contact your provider if your pain does not improve.
When should I worry about finger numbness?
There is usually no need to worry about finger numbness. Call your doctor or provider if you have severe pain, a rash, or muscle spasms in your fingers. You should go to the emergency room whenever you have difficulty moving your hand or fingers, slurred speech, or have mental confusion.
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