Q: My fingers sometimes go numb. Do I need to be concerned by finger numbness?
Finger numbness is most often caused by a minor misalignment in the neck, arm or hand. We’ve all slept in a funny position and woken up with a body part that’s gone numb; this happens when pressure is applied to the nerves, which temporarily decreases blood flow to them and interrupts the movement of fluid within the nerve cells and along the fibers that carry the nerves electrical signals. When the pressure is relieved, the finger numbness goes away.
Persistent numbness in the fingers could signal nerve compression, which is more serious. A pinched nerve at the neck, armpit, elbow or wrist could lead to numbness in the fingers. At these locations the nerves are particularly prone to compression because they run through tight spaces. Carpal tunnel syndrome, another possible cause, is the result of prolonged pressure on the median nerve within the wrist.
If the finger numbness persists or you have any signs of muscle weakness, see your doctor. Treatments, such as anti-inflammatory medications and occupational therapy, are more effective if you get help within the first few weeks of noticing symptoms.
Nader Paksima, D.O., assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at New York University’s Hospital for Joint Diseases, in New York City
Originally published by Pain Solutions Magazine, Spring 2010
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