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100 Causes of Paresthesia in the Fingertips

Updated on January 18, 2014

Quick Symptom Checker

If you know the symptoms, this quick symptom checker may help you narrow down the causes of numbness in the fingertips.

Picture: Green area is innervated by the median nerve, blue area by the ulnar nerve and red area by the radial nerve.

1. Morning numbness in the hands and fingertips lasting only for few minutes.

- You were probably just sleeping with your forearm/hand under the head or other body part.

2. Anxiety and tingling in fingertips and toes and around the mouth

- Hyperventilation; can also happen in heavy exercise.

3. Numbness/tingling in the index, middle finger and thumb (in one or all of them)

- Carpal tunnel syndrome

4. Numbness/tingling in the pinky finger

- Guyon's canal syndrome (wrist), cubital tunnel syndrome (elbow), hammer hand syndrome (hand), vibration white finger (fingers)

5. Paresthesia and pain down the arm toward the fingertips

- Problems of the neck spine, thoracic outlet syndrome, fall or kick to the head or shoulder, lung cancer

6. Numbness in the hands and feet on both sides

- Peripheral neuropathy

7. Numbness or pain and white-blue-red discoloration of one or more fingertips after exposure to cold or in stress

- Raynaud's phenomenon

8. Recurring peeling and numbness in the fingertip (on one or more fingers)

- Fingertip eczema

9. A random finger suddenly becomes pale or blue, painful and numb without apparent reason

- Embolism or blue finger syndrome

10. Chronic bluish discoloration of the hands and fingers with slightly numb fingertips

- Hypoxia due to heart or lung disease, anemia, atherosclerosis, vasculitis etc.

Below, 100 causes of numbness in the fingertips are arranged by the mechanisms involved.

1. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Numbness in the first three fingers (the thumb, index, middle)

Causes:

1. The cause is often not found

2. Congenital anomaly of the wrist

3. Overuse of the wrist (assembly work, typing...) may result in wrist tenderness

4. Wrist injury

5. Diabetes

6. Hypothyroidism causes swelling in the wrist

7. Kidney failure causes water retention and swelling in the wrist

8. Pregnancy causes water retention

9. Ganglion cyst in the wrist can press on the median nerve

10. In acromegaly there is hypertrophy of the tissues in the hand.

2. Pinched Ulnar Nerve

Numbness in the pinky finger

Causes:

Guyon's canal syndrome:

1. Cyclists' palsy — pressing of the hands on the handlebar may result in the compression of the ulnar nerve

2. Prolonged use of crutches

3. Weightlifting

4. Work with wrists bent downwards and outwards

5. Injury of the wrist

Cubital tunnel syndrome:

6. Constant leaning on the elbows (students) can result in tender elbows and numbness in the pinky finger

7. Driving and other activities with repeated flexing and extending of the elbows

8. Cubitus valgus (hyperextended elbow, may be due to congenital anomaly)

9. Arthritis in the elbow

Hammer hand syndrome:

10. Repeated use of a hand as a hammer can cause in a sudden numbness, pain and white or blue discoloration of the pinky finger

3. Peripheral Neuropathy

Bilateral Numbness in the Hands and Feet

Causes:

1. Long-lasting diabetes 1 or 2

2. Alcoholism

3. Chronic kidney failure

4. Hypothyroidism

5. Vitamin deficiency (vitamins B1, B3, B12, folate)

6. Mineral deficiency (hypocalcemia; copper deficiency after bariatric surgery)

7. Vasculitis

8. Infections, such as Lyme disease, diphtheria, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B

9. Heavy metals: arsenic, lead, mercury, thallium and other substances, such as acrylamide

10. Drugs, for example certain antiepileptics and vitamin B6 overdose

4. Other Neurological Causes

Numbness or pain in the arm, hand or fingers

Acute causes:

1. A cut of the digital nerve can result in loss of sensation in the finger for several weeks.

2. Spray painting with prolonged pressure of the index finger on the spray can nozzle

3. Seizures (grand mal epilepsy) may be accompanied by paresthesia anywhere in the body.

4. Whiplash injury - hyperextension of the neck in car or motorbike accidents

5. Guillain-Barre syndrome - numbness, rapidly progressing (hours to days) from fingertips to arms and from toes to legs, followed by muscle weakness that can affect the whole body and may be life-threatening

Chronic causes:

6. Thoracic outlet syndrome in sports with overhead activities, such as baseball

7. Cervical radiculopathy, which means compression of the root of the spinal nerve that innervates the arm; causes include herniated disc and arthritis in the neck spine

8. Spinal stenosis, which means narrowing of the canal in the spine through which the spinal cord runs, for example due to a herniated disc

9. Multiple sclerosis - numbness in various parts of the body that comes and goes

10. Leprosy (rare, mainly in South Asia and Africa)

5. Raynaud's Phenomenon

White-blue-red fingertips after exposure to cold or stress

Raynaud's phenomenon may be associated with the following conditions:

1. Systemic sclerosis (scleroderma)

2. Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)

3. Rheumatoid arthritis

4. Frequent and vigorous piano playing

5. Work with vibration tools (vibration white finger)

6. Previous finger injury, frostbite

7. Cancer, especially lung, ovarian and gastric cancer

8. Chronic liver disease

9. Prinzmetal angina

10. Cryoglobulinemia

6. Other Circulatory Disorders

Bluish and numb fingertips

Acute conditions:

1. Orthostatic hypotension

2. Blue finger syndrome (a benign condition resembling embolism)

3. Achenbach syndrome (sudden limited bleeding in the finger)

4. Arterial embolism

5. Hammer hand syndrome

Chronic causes:

6. Congestive heart failure

7. Atherosclerosis

8. Vasculitis including Buerger's disease (in young male smokers)

9. Acrocyanosis

10. Blood disorders: anemia, polycythemia, arterial or venous thrombosis

7. Skin-Related Disorders

Redness, peeling, cracks, numbness in the fingertips

Acute causes:

1. Burns

2. Frostnip, frostbite and chilblains

3. Snake bites

4. Allergy to poison oak or ivy

5. Allergic reaction to garlic or tulip bulbs

6. Felon - painful bacterial infection of the fingertip

7. Herpetic whitlow

Chronic conditions:

8. Callus

9. Fingertip eczema

10. Frictional dermatitis

8. Foods and Toxins

1. Chronic caffeine intoxication

2. Heavy drinking may increase the risk of Raynaud's phenomenon

3. Smoking (nicotine) can constrict blood vessels and trigger Raynaud's phenomenon

4. Inky caps ingested along with alcohol may trigger vomiting, diarrhea and numbness in limbs

5. Ciguatera poisoning after eating big tropical fish, such as barracuda or tuna

6. Shellfish poisoning

7. Infestation with fish tapeworm

8. Methanol or ethylene glycol ingestion

9. Chronic arsenic, gold, lead, mercury or thallium poisoning

10. Poisoning with organophosphates (pesticides), warfare nerve gases (sarin, soman).

9. Respiratory Disorders

1. Severe bacterial pneumonia

2. Viral or atypical pneumonia

3. Pulmonary embolism

4. Lung edema

5. Cystic fibrosis

6. Lung cancer

7. Chronic bronchitis

8. Emphysema

9. Asthmatic attack

10. Obstructive sleep apnea

10. Other Causes

Acute symptoms:

1. Hypoglycemia (in diabetics)

2. Hyperventilation (caused by anxiety, fever, heavy exercise) resulting in respiratory alkalosis and temporary hypocalcemia

3. Other metabolic disorders: hypokalemia (in starvation, anorexia), hyperkalemia (ingestion of large amounts of potassium chloride), hypomagnesemia (in alcohol withdrawal)

4. Migraine aura

5. Anaphylactic reaction

Chronic symptoms:

6. Fibromyalgia

7. Neurofibromatosis

8. Radiation exposure (breast cancer treatment)

9. Pheochromocytoma (adrenal tumor that secretes epinephrine)

10. Warfare gases (sarin, soman, tabun)

Photo Gallery

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Bluish and possibly numb fingertips due to low levels of oxygen in the bloodRaynaud's phenomenon: white and blue fingertipsProlonged leaning on the handlebars may cause numbness of the pinky finger.After chilblains, numbness in the fingers may persist for several days
Bluish and possibly numb fingertips due to low levels of oxygen in the blood
Bluish and possibly numb fingertips due to low levels of oxygen in the blood
Raynaud's phenomenon: white and blue fingertips
Raynaud's phenomenon: white and blue fingertips
Prolonged leaning on the handlebars may cause numbness of the pinky finger.
Prolonged leaning on the handlebars may cause numbness of the pinky finger.
After chilblains, numbness in the fingers may persist for several days
After chilblains, numbness in the fingers may persist for several days

Everyone is invited to share his or her experience.

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