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  • Writer's pictureDr. Terrell Joseph

What Causes Numbness of the Hand?

Why Is My Hand Numb?

We’ve all had that pins-and-needles sensation in our hands. It’s a common side effect of sleeping in a way that compresses the nerves in your hand or wrist. Hand numbness can also be a side effect of medication or circulation problems. However, sometimes that tingling sensation in your hand could be a symptom of a more serious orthopaedic issue.

What Causes Hand Numbness

Your upper extremities (hand, wrist, elbows, and shoulders) contain several nerves that carry signals and sensations to and from the brain. These nerves are fragile, damaged easily by:

  • Overuse

  • Stretching

  • Pressure

  • Cutting

Three common nerve injuries that can cause hand numbness include:

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

  2. Ulnar Nerve Entrapment: 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. Numbness in the hand is common when that nerve becomes irritated or compressed.

  3. Nerve Compression Syndrome: When a nerve is pinched or compacted, it can lead to numbness, pain, and weakness in a single location (typically at the site of the nerve). The median, radial, and ulnar nerve all impact the hand and can be compressed in that area.

Treatment for hand numbness depends on the severity of your nerve injury. However, if caught early, most nerve injuries can be treated nonsurgically.

When to Worry About Hand Numbness

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

You should also contact a doctor about your hand numbness if the symptom persists consistently for long periods of time. If you notice your hand numbness appears only during certain activities (such as on the job or during sports), contact an orthopaedic specialist to discuss your symptoms.

It's important to receive a proper diagnosis so you can live pain ­free! Dr. Joseph and his team at Vail-Summit Orthopaedics & Neurosurgery are able to diagnose hand numbness with a physical exam and imaging tests.

Hand Numbness Doctor in Eagle and Summit County

If you are experiencing consistent numbness or tingling of the hand, it time to contact a qualified orthopaedic physician! Dr. Joseph specializes in injuries to the upper extremities and can provide a treatment plan that’s right for you.

Schedule a consultation with Dr. Joseph today by calling (970) 476-7220 or through our online appointment request form.

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