Numbness in Fingers - Treatment, Symptoms and Causes
What is Finger numbness?
This is not a medical condition or disorder but rather an annoying, common complaint/symptom that is often associated with a restricted blood supply in your fingers or associated with a neurogenic debilitating disease. Although it may be annoying it is often a serious symptom that needs to be checked by your physician early to get the right diagnosis and treatment. It is a symptom that should not be ignored, especially if you do not know what the cause is.
There are many different reasons that can cause numbness in your fingers and not all of them are serious and need to be addressed by your physician. Numbness in your finger can be permanent or it can be temporary due to any type of activity that can put prolonged pressure on the nerves or nerve.
Some of the causes of numbness in fingers can include:
- From repetitive motion
- Fine motor activities such as typing, writing, or drawing.
- Sleeping the wrong way on your arm.
- Deficiency in vitamin B13, potassium, calcium, or magnesium.
- Excessive smoking
- Toxins in seafood
- Insect or animal bites.
Finger numbness can be caused by circulatory problems from lack of blood flow because of:
- Extremely cold temperatures or frostbite
- Narrowing of the arteries because of the buildup of cholesterol and fat on the walls of the arteries called peripheral artery disease (PAD). It is also called peripheral vascular disease (PVD).
- The narrowing of blood vessels in your fingers when exposed to stress, sometimes, and to cold called Raynaud’s phenomenon. This is a rare disorder.
Finger numbness can also be caused by moderate to serious orthopedic disorders. This can lead to peripheral or spinal nerve damage. Some of these can include:
- Having a broken finger that affects a nerve
- Herniated disk
- Degenerative disk disease in your neck called cervical spondylosis.
- Neck injury
- Compression or entrapment of the ulnar nerve if you have numbness in your ring and pinky finger that can be due to problems in your elbow, wrist joint, or shoulder
- Problems with the median nerve if you have numbness in your index finger along with abnormal sensations in your middle finger and thumb. This condition is normally caused by carpal tunnel syndrome
Finger numbness can also be caused by injury, damage, or nerve compression due to the following conditions.
- Damage to nerves due to high blood sugar levels in a person with diabetes called diabetic neuropathy.
- Heavy metal poisoning such as from lead.
- Under active thyroid known as hypothyroidism.
- A disease that affects your spinal cord and brain known as multiple sclerosis.
- Non-cancerous growth of nerve tissue in your finger known as neuroma.
- A disorder of the peripheral nerves that are on the outside of your spinal cord and brain known as peripheral neuropathy.
- Tumor or spinal cord injury
- A neurological disorder that causes the inflammation of your spinal cord known as transverse myelitis.
- A disorder in which your body attacks its own healthy tissues and cells known as systemic lupus.
- A compression of a nerve in your spine known as radiculopathy.
There may be a combination of symptoms that occur with finger numbness. Some of these symptoms may include:
- A burning feeling
- Fingers that are cold
- Pain in the fingers, hand, or arm
- When writing, drawing, or typing you may experience an increase in the numbness of your fingers.
- Having an itchy feeling
- Spasms in your muscles
- Pain in your neck
- Prickling or pins and needles feeling.
- A combination of itchiness and tingling may be symptoms of multiple sclerosis.
- Extreme pain that does down your shoulder, hand, arm, and fingers may be symptoms of bugling cervical disk in the neck.
In some cases, other symptoms combined with finger numbness could indicate a life-threatening or serious condition that should be evaluated immediately. Some of these symptoms may include:
- Loss of conscious for just a brief moment or confusion.
- Having trouble breathing
- Having trouble walking
- Being dizzy
- Having finger numbness after a back, neck, or head injury.
- Changes or loss of vision
- Speech that is slurred
- Loss of strength or weakness
- Tingling and numbness in your fingers, feeling like you are wearing gloves, hands feel extremely cold or hot could be the symptoms of diabetic peripheral neuropathy.
- Numbness in your index, middle fingers, and thumb but very seldom in your pinkly finger along with weakness in the hands and radiating pain could be symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Finger numbness along with tenderness, inability to move the finger, and swelling can be symptoms of a broken finger.
The proper treatment depends on what is causing the finger numbness. If it is continually then you should seek the advice of your physician.
You can treat these underlying conditions with this type of treatment.
- For the symptoms of severe diabetes condition you need to bring down your blood sugar levels along with your cholesterol levels. You can do this by eating a healthy diet and monitoring your blood sugar levels. Your physician may prescribe medication to help get your blood sugar levels and cholesterol levels lower.
- For symptoms of nerve compression in the peripheries or spine you need to see your physician. They may prescribe medication, physical therapy, exercises, or a combination of these. If it is a severe case you may have to have surgery.
- For symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome you will need to rest your fingers or maybe wear a wrist splint or have steroid injections. If it is a severe case, your physician may do surgery.
- Massage your fingers so the oxygen can reach the cells in your fingers.
- Apply warm or cold compresses
- Make sure that you are not low in potassium and if so, take a potassium supplement. Your physician can check your potassium level by doing a blood test.
- Exercise your fingers.