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Numbness in Hands

Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju

Whether it’s happening when you’re sleeping or just sitting on the couch in front of the TV, your first reaction is to shake your hand to regain the feeling or remove the pins and needles. It helps improve blood flow to the nerve, but relieving pressure from a sleeping position or sitting on the couch usually allows the sensation to return. You can also try clenching and then unclenching your fist. This technique can improve blood flow to your hands and weaken nerves, relieving you of the feeling of pins and needles.

 

This numbness happens when you least expect it: one minute – your hand works as usual, then it is partially numb and floppy. It seems you are being pricked with pins and needles. In other words, your hand has fallen asleep. The medical term for this is paresthesia, which occurs when pressure is applied to the nerve supplying the limb. The most common reason our arm falls asleep is that we lie on it flexibly while sleeping; this causes blood flow to the nerve to stop, which in turn causes a numbness or tingling sensation.

pins in hands

Causes of Pins and Needles  

Numbness is usually felt in the thumb, index, and middle fingers. If you feel numbness in your little finger and/or ring finger, it is usually due to:

  • Excessive elbow flexion during sleep causes constriction and decreased blood flow to the ulnar nerve. 
  • Although all variants of hand numbness are associated with impaired conduction of impulses, not every tingling sensation in the hands indicates that a person has a serious illness.
  • In the meantime, if your entire arm is numb, it means that you slept on your shoulder “wrong,” reducing blood flow to several nerves in your arm, or your neck was in a strange position, affecting the nerves running directly from the spine. At this point, your hand may feel a tingling sensation – a needle sensation – or just numbness. 

The causes of hand numbness are temporary and chronic.

 

Temporary Numbness of the Hands

Everyone has experienced this harmless state at least once in their life. The sensation is associated with a temporary decrease in the blood supply to the nerves that provide sensitivity to the hands, such as the median or ulnar.

As a result, the nervous system deprived of oxygen loses some information, and the rest is transmitted to the brain with distortions – a person perceives this as numbness and tingling. But once the pressure on the arm stops, the temporary numbness goes away. In this case, no treatment is required.

  1. Temporary numbness of the hands can be “earned” if, for example, you fall asleep with your arm bent under your head. It is enough to stretch and massage the limb to get rid of unpleasant sensations.
  2. Another common cause of temporary hand numbness is sitting at a computer. If the numbness recurs frequently, it may be due to overstraining some of the neck’s deep muscles. When overstrained muscles are shortened, blood vessels and nerves compress. If taking a break during the day to warm up and exercise does not help, you should consult your doctor.

 

Chronic Hand Numbness

This condition is less common than temporary numbness, lasts longer, and does not go away if the hand is stretched or massaged. 

  1. Damage or pinching of the nervous system. Nerves can be damaged from a broken arm or carpal tunnel syndrome – when the hand becomes numb, and the thumb weakens. The causes of carpal tunnel syndrome are not fully understood. It is believed that the problem can arise due to hormonal changes in women, rheumatoid arthritis, or regular excessive stress on the wrist, due to which the median nerve, which provides hand sensitivity, suffers.
  2. Cervical spondylosis can cause hand numbness in people over the age of 60. This condition is part of the normal aging process, in which the neck’s cervical vertebrae and intervertebral discs gradually wear out; this can pinch the nerves in the hands and cause numbness.
  3. Vitamin B12 (folic acid) deficiency. Its deficiency can be encountered by vegetarians, the elderly, patients with diabetes mellitus, and people with pernicious anemia. Lack of vitamins leads, among other things, to nerve damage, so it is crucial to eat a balanced diet. Vitamin B12 is only in foods of animal origin, so vegetarians usually have to take vitamin pills.
  4. Chronic diseases. The most common disease in which there is a risk of causing peripheral neuropathy is type 2 diabetes. The longest nerves are the first to suffer. So numbness usually occurs in the legs and arms. If numbness is indeed associated with type 2 diabetes, the patient should see a doctor as soon as possible to adjust treatment and lifestyle choices. Otherwise, the symptoms may worsen and lead to complications during the underlying disease.
  5. Guillain-Barré syndrome is a rare disorder in which the immune and nervous system destroys its peripheral nerves and can cause peripheral neuropathy. If a person feels numbness and weakness in the legs, especially after a cold or other infection, it is imperative to see a doctor. Guillain-Barré syndrome is a completely curable disease, but if not diagnosed on time, it can lead to serious consequences and even death.
  6. Hereditary diseases, for example, the rare Raynaud’s disease, which is more common in women aged 15-30 living in cold climates. In this condition, in response to cold, vasospasm occurs, so the skin turns white. Also, the nerves cease to be supplied with blood normally, so the fingers become numb. Raynaud’s disease is treated only in the most severe cases. To avoid an attack, it is enough to wear warm mittens or gloves to avoid hypothermia.
  7. Neurological diseases of the central nervous system. Hand numbness is one of the symptoms of stroke, multiple sclerosis, and even migraines.
  8. Exposure to drugs. Certain chemotherapy drugs, antiretroviral drugs used to control HIV, some antibiotics, and the antiparasitic drug metronidazole can cause damage to the nervous system. Fortunately, in most cases, it is sufficient to adjust the dosage or change the medication to restore normal nerve sensitivity.

numbness in hands

How to Treat and Prevent Pins and Needles

Some simple techniques may help relieve temporary pins and needles:

  • go away faster;
  • raise your arms up; 
  • and then bend and unbend your fingers until sensitivity returns. If finger numbness persists, see a doctor.

 

When hands are often numb, there is a universal drug treatment (venotonics, B vitamins, vascular drugs), but it is not very effective in most cases.

Local treatment is most effective:

  • shock wave therapy – stimulates blood flow in the area of ​​nerve compression;
  • injection of an anti-inflammatory drug (Diprospan, Flosteron) into the nerve compression zone;
  • electromyostimulation – with the development of muscle weakness.

 

Among the drugs, the most popular are:

  • selective non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (indomethacin, ibuprofen, celecoxib). They are used mainly to relieve exacerbations of the disease;
  • chondroprotectors – to improve the regeneration of the intervertebral disc, consisting of cartilage tissue.

If this does not help, the blockade is treated with pain relievers. In rare cases, surgical treatment is used with a prolonged course and ineffective conservative treatment.

 

To prevent peripheral neuropathy, follow these simple rules:

  • Don’t lift weights;
  • Avoid repetitive movements. If this is not possible, stretch your arms and hands before starting work and, more often, give your hands a rest: relax your hands, shake them for a minute or two, or massage your palms and wrists;
  • Take regular breaks from work before any discomfort arises;
  • Watch your posture, and do exercises to strengthen your back muscles – pilates or yoga is ideal for this;
  • Drink alcohol in moderation;
  • Control chronic illness. If you have type 2 diabetes, remember to take your medications, eat a balanced diet, see your doctor regularly, and take vitamin B12 periodically;

 

Eat a varied diet that includes not only fruits and vegetables but also fish, dairy products, and eggs. If you are a vegan, talk to your doctor about taking vitamin B12.

If you find that your hand is often asleep when you wake up in the morning, there are several things you can do to prevent this from happening. First, check which fingers are affected. 

  1. If it’s primarily your thumb, forefinger, and middle finger, you can try over-the-counter neutral bracelets overnight. 
  2. And if you notice that your pinky and ring finger are suffering, you can try wearing an elbow pad at night or just roll up a towel and place it on your elbow while you sleep; this will often prevent numbness on awakening.
  3. If you notice that your arms, hands, feet, or legs are regularly numb and the methods above are not working, this could be a sign of another medical condition, such as carpal tunnel syndrome or multiple sclerosis. In this case, you should contact your healthcare professional about it. 

But in most cases, the feeling of pins and needles in your hand means that the nerve is temporarily pinched, and you should be back to normal soon.

 

 FAQ

  • Why are the right hand and fingers numb?

The cause may be a lack of vitamins, muscle overexertion, or inflammation of the brachial nerve. But you should be wary of more dangerous diagnoses: a pre-stroke condition, disturbances in the functioning of the nervous and cardiac systems.

  • Why do hands go numb in the morning?

Hands can go numb in the morning after waking up. This is a signal that it is time to change an ordinary pillow to an orthopedic one. But the most dangerous symptom is numbness in half of the body, which can be a sign of a stroke. In this case, you should always call an ambulance.

  • Why is peripheral neuropathy dangerous?

Muscle weakness quickly leads to decreased muscle tone and muscle atrophy. Sometimes the consequence of polyneuropathy is complete paralysis of the limbs or respiratory organs, and this is deadly. A progressive illness causes a lot of inconvenience to the patient, completely changing his usual way of life.

  • Why is there numbness in the hands?

Numbness in the hands occurs as a result of pinching of the nerve, which is responsible for the sensitivity and movement of the hand and fingers. Typically, the symptom is first felt in the little finger and thumb. After a while, it spreads to the entire brush. Symptoms are more likely to appear during a night’s sleep.

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Edward Medina
Edward Medina
15:34 30 Jun 22
Just such an amazing staff that makes you feel like part of their family. I’ve been going there for over 5 years now... and each visit I get the very best care and treatments that I have ever received in the 20+ years that I’ve been dealing with severe debilitating migraines. Since i started seeing them the number of my migraines has dropped from 15-20 a month to 2-3 every 3 month. I highly recommend them …they will change your life!read more
Daneisha Johnson
Daneisha Johnson
22:20 19 May 22
Dr. Askari was very kind and explained everything so I could understand. The other staff were nice as well. I would... have gave 5 stars but I was a little taken aback when I checked in and had to pay 600.00 upfront. I think that should have been discussed in a appointment confirmation call or email just so I could have been prepared.read more
Jean Cooper
Jean Cooper
16:54 29 Apr 22
I love the office staff they are friendly and very helpful. Dr. JODIE is very caring and understanding to your needs... and wants to help you. I will go back. would recommend Dr. Dr. Jodie to other Patients in a heart beat. The team works well together.read more
Linda M
Linda M
19:40 02 Apr 22
I was obviously stressed, needing to see a neurologist. The staff was so patient and Dr. Ansari was so kind. At one... point he told me to relax, we have time, when I was relaying my history of my condition. That helped ease my stress. I have seen 3 other neurologists and he was the only one who performed any assessment tests on my cognitive and physical skills. At one point I couldn't complete two assessments and got upset and cried. I was told, it's OK. That's why you're here. I was truly impressed, and super pleased with the whole experience!read more
Leslie Durham
Leslie Durham
15:05 01 Apr 22
I've been coming here for about 5 years. The staff are ALWAYS friendly and knowledgeable. The Doctors are the absolute... best!! Jodie Moore is always in such a great mood which is a plus when you are already stressed. Highly recommendedread more
Monica Del Bosque
Monica Del Bosque
14:13 25 Mar 22
Since my first post my thoughts have changed here. It's unfortunate. My doctor and PA were great, but the office staff... is horrible. They never call you back when they say they will, they misinform you, they cause you too much stress wondering what's going on, they don't keep you posted. They never answer the phone. At this point I've left four messages in the last week, and I have sent three messages. Twice from their portal and one direct email. No response. My appointment is on Monday morning at 8:30am, no confirmation on my insurance and what's going on. What the heck is going on, this is ridiculous!I've given up... the stress her office staff has put me through is just not worth it. You can do so much better, please clean house, either change out your office staff, or find a way for them to be more efficient please. You have to do something. This is not how you want to run your practice. It leaves a very bad impression on your business.read more
Ron Buckholz
Ron Buckholz
23:32 23 Mar 22
I was actually pleasantly surprised with this visit! It took me a long time to get the appointment scheduled because no... one answers your phones EVER! After a month, I finally got in, and your staff was warm, friendly, and I was totally impressed! I feel like you will take care of my needs!read more
Steve Nabavi
Steve Nabavi
16:28 16 Mar 22
It was a nice visit. Happy staff doing all they can do to comfort the patients in a very calming environment. You ask... me they are earned a big gold star on the fridge. My only complaint they didn't give me any cookies.read more
Katie Lewis
Katie Lewis
16:10 10 Feb 22
Had very positive appointments with Jodie and Dr. Sheth for my migraine care. Jodie was so fast with the injections and... has so much valuable info. I started to feel light headed during checkout and the staff was SO helpful—giving me a chair, water, and taking me into a private room until I felt better. Highly recommend this practice for migraine patients, they know what they’re doing!!read more
Joshua Martinez
Joshua Martinez
16:02 10 Dec 21
I was scheduled to be checked and just want to say that the staff was fantastic. They were kind and helpful. I was... asked many questions related to what was going on and not once did I feel as though I was being brushed off. The front desk staff was especially great in assisting me. I'm scheduled to go back for a mri and am glad that I'll be going there.read more
Isabel Ivy
Isabel Ivy
21:42 03 Nov 21
I had such a good experience with Lone Star Neurology, Brent my MRI Tech was so awesome and made sure I was very... comfortable during the appointment. He gave me ear plugs, a pillow, leg support and blanket, easiest MRI ever lol 🤣 My 72 hour EEG nurse Amanda was also so awesome. She made sure I was take care of over the 3 days and took her time with the electrodes to make sure it was comfortable for me! Paige was also a huge help in answering all my questions when it came to my test results, and letting me know her honest opinions about how I should go forth with my treatment.read more
Leslie Luce
Leslie Luce
17:37 20 Oct 21
The professionalism and want to help attitude of this office was present from the moment I contacted them. The follow... up and follow through as well as their willingness to find a way to schedule my dad was above and beyond. We visited two offices in the same day with the same experience. I am appreciative of this—we spend a lot of time with doctors and this was top notch start to finish.read more
robert Parker
robert Parker
16:38 16 Apr 21
I love going to this office. The staff is friendly and helpful. The doctor is great. I am getting the best... neurological tests and treatment I have ever had. The only reason I did not give them a 5 star rating is because it is impossible to reach a live person at the office to reschedule appointments. Every time I have tried to get through to the office it says all people are busy and I am sent to a voicemail. If they could get their phone answering fixed, I would give them a strong 5 stars.read more
MaryAnn Hornbaker
MaryAnn Hornbaker
00:26 25 Feb 21
Dr. Harney is an excellent Dr. I found him friendly , personable and thorough. I evidently am an unusual case. ... Therefore he spent a Hugh amount of time educating me. He even gave me literature to further explain my condition and how to follow up. This is something you rarely get from your doctors. So I am more than please with my doctor and his staff.read more
Roger Arguello
Roger Arguello
03:05 29 Jan 21
Always courteous, professional. The staff is very friendly and always work with you to find the best appointment time.... The care team has been great. Always taking the time to listen to your concerns and to find the best treatment.read more
Margaret Rowland
Margaret Rowland
01:12 27 Jan 21
I have been a patient at Lone Star Neurology for several years. Now both my adult daughters also are patients there. I... love Jodie. She is always so prompt whether it is a teleamed call are a visit in the office. She takes the time to explain everything to me and answers all my questions. I am so blessed to have Jodie as my doctor.read more
Susan Miller
Susan Miller
03:01 13 Jan 21
My husband had an accident 5 years ago and Lone Star Neurology has been such a blessing to us with my husbands care.... Jodie Moore is his provider and she is amazing! Jodie is very knowledgeable, caring, and thorough. She takes her time with you, making sure your needs are met and she is happy to answer any questions you may have. Lone Star Neurology’s patients are very lucky to have Jodie providing their care. Thank you Lone Star Neurology and especially Jodie for everything you have done for us. Jodie, you are the best!read more
Windalyn C
Windalyn C
01:32 09 Jan 21
Jodie is wonderful. She is very caring and knowledgeable. I have been to over a dozen neurologists, and none were able... to help me as much as they have here. Thanks!read more
Katie Kordel
Katie Kordel
00:40 09 Jan 21
Jodi Moore, nurse practitioner, is amazing. I have suffered from frequent, debilitating headaches for almost 20 years.... She has provided the best proactive and responsive care I have ever received. My quality of life has been greatly improved by her caring approach and tenacity in finding solutions.read more
Ellie Natsis
Ellie Natsis
15:41 07 Jan 21
I have had the best experience at this neurologist's office! For over a year I have been receiving iv treatments here... each month and my nurse, Bobbie is beyond wonderful!! She's so attentive, knowledgeable, caring, and detail oriented. She makes an otherwise uncomfortable experience much more pleasant and definitely puts me at ease! She also helps me with my insurance,ordering this specialty medication and dealing with the ordering process which is no easy feat.Needless to say, she goes above a beyond in every way and I'm so grateful to this office and to Bobbie for all they do for me!read more
Matt Morris
Matt Morris
15:39 07 Jan 21
Let me start by saying that I have been coming here for years. Due to my autoimmune disease, I am in this office... once every three weeks for multiple hours at a time. The office is very clean and the staff very friendly. My only complaint would be there communication via phone. They aren't the best at responding if you leave a voicemail and expect a call back. I understand that this is prob just due to the sheer number of alls they receive daily. What I can say I like the best about the office are the people. Bobby who handles my infusions is great. I never have any issues with her setting up my infusions. She is very quick to reply to messages sent via text and if she were to leave then my whole opinion of the office may change. I also enjoy people like Matt, Lauren, and Jodi. I appreciate all that they do for me and without this team I'm not sure I would be as happy as I am to visit the office as frequently as I have to. Please ensure that these folks are recognized as they are what makes my visit to this office so tolerable :).read more
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