Fingertips Numbness: Causes and Treatments

There are neurons in your spinal cord that help carry sensations to the brain. If your nerve is damaged or the blood supply to these nerves is limited, you may experience numbness.This may happen when you somehow compressed your nerves while sleeping or being in a particular position for a long time.Should you worry? Are there other reasons why you experience this numbness, especially when it's in your fingertips? Keep reading to learn more.

Causes of Experiencing Numbness in Fingertips

Any damage to the nerves can cause numbness to different parts of your body. Here are some reasons why your fingertips may be experiencing numbness that feels like "pins and needles".

1.        Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

If you experience numbness in your fingers and thumb, this may be due to carpal tunnel syndrome, a condition that occurs due to the narrowing of a tunnel made by your wrist bone. The media nerve passes through this tunnel and is compressed due to cramped space. This results in numbness in the index finger, middle finger, and the thumb. The numbness is usually severe at night.

2.        Cervical Radiculopathy

Commonly known as a pinched nerve, cervical radiculopathy occurs when you have inflammation in a nerve that passes through your neck. This may happen due to a cervical herniated disc, cervical degenerative disc disease, or cervical spinal stenosis. You experience numbness in fingertips when the compressed nerve serves your hand.

3.        Peripheral Vascular Disease

These circulation disorders affect your blood vessels outside of the brain and heart. The condition usually affects the arteries and veins that supply the legs, arms, and organs below your stomach. These are peripheral blood vessels because they are far from your heart. Most people do not experience any symptom when they have peripheral artery disease, but some may experience rest pain and intermittent claudication. Other common symptoms are weakness of the calf muscle, numbness of the extremities, and a feeling of coldness in the feet or legs.

4.        Type 2 Diabetes

You have type-2 diabetes when your blood sugar levels stay higher than normal. While some people may not experience any symptoms at all, others may experience some depending on the extent of nerve damage. The most common symptom is numbness in fingertips or tingling in your feet with burning pain in your hands, arms, feet, and legs. Other symptoms of type-2 diabetes are fatigue, excessive hunger, excessive thirst, blurry vision, and increased urination at night.

5.        Raynaud's Syndrome

It indicates a problem with blood flow. You feel your hands quite cold and numb because your body fails to supply enough blood to the extremities. This usually happens for a short time and in response to cold temperatures. You may even notice your hands turn blue or white. You experience pain when blood flow returns to normal and your hands and feet turn red again. An attack usually lasts no more than a few minutes, but in rare cases, it lasts more than an hour.

6.        Frostbite

When you are in freezing temperatures and forget to cover a body part properly, you may end up developing frostbite, which is a serious yet treatable skin condition. You may experience different symptoms depending on the stage of frostbite. Early frostbite may only affect the top layer of your skin and make it turn white or pale yellow – it may also sting, itch, or burn, causing the numbing sensation. Intermediate frostbite makes your skin hard and shiny with fluid- or blood-filled blisters. More advanced cases may go through to the bones and muscles and may turn your skin blue or even black.

7.        Guillaine-Barre Syndrome

In this rare but serious autoimmune disorder, your immune system starts attacking healthy nerve cells in your peripheral nervous system. These nerves connect your brain to the rest of your body, and any interruption will make your muscles dysfunctional. The earliest symptom is numbness in fingertips but the tingling may also spread to your arms, feet, and legs. You may also have difficulty walking steadily, experience lower back pain, and have loss of bladder control. Some people experience difficulty moving their face or eyes, which makes swallowing or chewing difficult. Paralysis, difficulty breathing, and fast heart rate are other common symptoms associated with Guillaine-Barre Syndrome.

8.        Rheumatoid Arthritis

If along with the numbness, you also have swollen red, tender, and painful joints, you are more likely to have rheumatoid arthritis. You may also experience burning or tingling in your feet or hands. Rheumatoid arthritis may cause inflammation of the tendons in the wrists, which results in carpal tunnel syndrome.

9.        Cervical Spondylosis

Also known as osteoarthritis, the condition leads to changes to the discs, bones, and joints of the neck. This usually happens due to wear-and-tear of aging. You experience numbness in your hands and fingers when cervical osteoarthritis puts pressure on the spinal cord. This leads to a condition called cervical myelopathy, which causes symptoms such as abnormal reflexes, lack of coordination, muscle spasms, difficulty walking, and loss of control over bowel and bladder.

10.    Other Conditions

In addition to the causes mentioned above, you may end up feeling numbness in fingertips and arms due to trauma, beriberi, snakebites, multiple sclerosis, rabies, neuralgias, pernicious anemia, necrotizing vasculitis, toxin exposure, or malnutrition.

Get It Checked

You should contact your doctor if your finger numbness is more persistent and is accompanied by pain and weakness. Your doctor will consider your medical history while making a diagnosis. They may even ask for tests such as electromyography, nerve conduction velocity tests, nerve biopsy, imaging studies, and more. They will select the most appropriate treatment option considering the underlying cause for trouble. In most cases, patients benefit from occupational and physical therapy as well as stretching exercises.

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