• Dr. Terrell Joseph

What Causes Numbness of the Hand?

Why is Your Hand Numb?

Hand numbness is usually caused by damage, irritation, or compression of one of the nerves or a branch of one of the nerves in your arm and wrist.

Diseases affecting the peripheral nerves, such as diabetes, also can cause numbness, although with diabetes similar symptoms usually occur first in your feet.

When Should You Worry About Numbness of The Hand?

If numbness in your hands persists for more than a short while, you should seek immediate medical attention. It could be a sign of a serious medical condition.

It is especially important to seek prompt attention if your symptoms are accompanied by any of the following:

  • Numbness in other parts of your body

  • Paralysis

  • Confusion

  • Dizziness

  • Slurred speech

  • Loss of bowel and/or bladder control

  • Rash

Common Causes of Hand Numbness

Here are some of the common causes of hand numbness. If you think you have any of these conditions, make an appointment with a qualified specialist to get it looked at!

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Numbness and tingling in the hand and arm caused by a pinched nerve in the wrist is a byproduct of carpal tunnel syndrome. Wrist anatomy, underlying health conditions, and patterns of hand use can contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome.

CTS Risk Factors

There are a number of causes and risk factors associated with CTS, including force (trauma to the wrist), posture, wrist alignment, stress from prolonged, repetitive movement (cashiers and typists), temperature, and vibration.

Other factors that may increase the likelihood of developing CTS include smoking, obesity, and caffeine intake.

Treating Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Effective treatment of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome requires a thorough physical examination and a careful history of the condition.

Non-operative treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome include:

  • bracing

  • physical therapy

  • occupational therapy

  • anti-inflammatory medication.

Surgical intervention may be indicated if non-operative treatments fail or in the case of acute CTS.

Peripheral neuropathy

Weakness, numbness, and pain from nerve damage, usually in the hands and feet.

A common cause of peripheral neuropathy is diabetes, but it can also result from injuries, infections, and exposure to toxins.

Symptoms include

  • Pain

  • A pins-and-needles sensation

  • Numbness

  • Weakness.

Treatments include antidepressants like amitriptyline, pain medications like oxycodone, anti-seizure medications, and pain-relieving creams. It's also important to treat the underlying condition.

Ulnar nerve entrapment

Ulnar nerve entrapment occurs when the ulnar nerve in the arm becomes compressed or irritated. The ulnar nerve is one of the three main nerves in your arm. It travels from your neck down into your hand and can be constricted in several places along the way, such as beneath the collarbone or at the wrist.

Nerve Compression Syndrome

Nerve compression syndrome occurs when a nerve is squeezed or compacted. It typically occurs at a single location. Nerves in the torso, limbs, and extremities may be affected. Common symptoms include pain, numbness, and muscle weakness at the site of the nerve.


This condition is quite common, and millions of Americans deal with Fibromyalgia yearly. It can last for years and may lead to carpal tunnel syndrome, and, eventually, surgical intervention.

Symptoms of Fibromyalgia may include the following:

  • Persistent pain

  • Fatigue

  • Headaches

  • Trouble sleeping

  • Depression

Can Medications Cause Hand Numbness?

Some medications have the side effect of causing numbness in the hand. Cancer drugs in particular are in this category.

Additional Causes of Hand Numbness

Other causes of numb hands may include:

  • Nutritional deficiencies, such as vitamin B1 deficiency

  • Multiple sclerosis

  • Stroke

  • Disorders of the brain and spinal cord

Are You Experiencing Numbness in Your Hand? See a Specialist.

Although we can offer general advice on this topic, Dr. Joseph highly recommends visiting a qualified specialist if you are experiencing consistent numbness or tingling of the hand. It's important to receive a proper diagnosis so we can move forward in helping you adjust so you can live pain-free.

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181 West Meadow Drive 
Suite 2700
Vail, CO 81657 

Tel: 970-476-7220

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