Feelings of numbness or tingling in your hands are annoying but, fortunately, pins and needles usually go away quickly. Holding your hands in a relaxed position or giving them a good shake should do the trick. While occasional, temporary numbness is normal, frequent symptoms could be a sign of an underlying issue. Carpal tunnel syndrome is the most common cause of persistent numbness in the hands, and it can usually be managed with home treatment. Though less likely, hand numbness could also be related to degenerative disk disease or a pinched nerve in your neck. See your doctor for an accurate diagnosis and for help managing any underlying conditions.
EditRelieving Occasional Numbness
- Hold your hands in a comfortable, neutral position. Numbness and tingling can occur when you sleep on your hands or hold them in an awkward position. Changing positions usually does the trick. Relax your hands and arms, and keep your elbows and wrists straight.
- Shake your hands until the numbness subsides. If numbness persists for longer than 30 seconds after changing positions, try shaking your hands at the wrists. Shake your hands vigorously, but don’t shake so hard that your wrists pop or crack.
- If you slept on your hand, your nerves and circulation were compressed for a long duration. Numbness might stick around longer than if you just held your hand in an awkward position for a few minutes.
- Run your hands under warm water for 2 to 3 minutes. If your hands are still numb, hold them under running water that’s about . Be sure the water is warm instead of hot. Slowly flex and stretch your hands and wrists as you hold them under the water.
- Warm water can increase blood flow and soothe your hands. It’s also recommended for numbness related to underlying conditions, such as carpal tunnel syndrome and Raynaud’s phenomenon.
- See your doctor if you experience frequent or asymmetrical numbness. Occasional, temporary numbness is normal. However, numbness that's frequent, persistent, or on just one side of your body could be a sign of an underlying condition, such as nerve strain or damage.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome is the most common nerve condition related to numbness in the hands and forearms. Less common causes include fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, and spinal disorders.
- See a doctor promptly for numbness related to an injury or if you experience dizziness, difficulty talking, weakness, headache, or confusion.
EditDealing with Nerve Conditions
- Tell your doctor which parts of your hands are affected. Different forms of nerve strain or damage affect distinct parts of the hand. Your doctor can perform tests to accurately diagnose nerve compression or damage. They’ll examine your forearms and hands, have you move your hands and fingers and, if necessary, perform an x-ray.
- Numbness in the thumb, index, middle, and ring fingers (and the side of your palm with these fingers) is a symptom of carpal tunnel syndrome.
- If your ring and little fingers become numb when you bend your elbow, cubital tunnel syndrome could be the issue.
- Numbness or pain concentrated at the top of the hand could be due to a compressed radial nerve.
- Take frequent stretch breaks during repetitive activities, such as typing. Every 20 to 30 minutes, hold your hands in a prayer pose about in front of your chest. Keeping your hands in the prayer position, raise your elbows until you feel a stretch in your forearms. Hold the stretch for 10 to 20 seconds, then relax.
- You can also extend your right arm in front of you with your wrist bent, so the back of your hand faces you. Use your left hand to gently pull your right fingers toward you so you feel a stretch in your right forearm.
- Hold the stretch for 10 to 20 seconds, then switch arms.
- Alternate soaking your hands in cold and warm water. Fill one bucket with cold water and another with warm (not hot) water. Soak your hands and forearms in the cold water for 2 to 3 minutes, then soak them in the warm water. Continue alternating until you've held your hands in each bucket 3 times.
- Try soaking your hands in cold and warm water 3 to 4 times daily, or whenever you feel numbness or tingling.
- Wear wrist braces while you sleep for carpal tunnel syndrome. For carpal tunnel syndrome, wear wrist braces to keep your hands and forearms in neutral positions while you sleep.
- Ask your doctor to recommend the right brace for your particular issue.
- Wear elbow braces for cubital tunnel syndrome while you sleep. Bending the elbow aggravates cubital tunnel syndrome, so wearing elbow braces at night is best for this condition. Ask your doctor to recommend the best brace.
- You can also wrap a towel around the appropriate joint, then use tape to secure it.
- Ask your doctor if they recommend a cortisone shot. If numbness, tingling, and pain interfere with your daily activities, a corticosteroid shot might provide relief. While a cortisone shot can relieve flare-ups, its effects are temporary.
- You might experience pain and swelling at the injection site for the first 1 to 2 days after getting a cortisone shot. If necessary, apply ice for 15 minutes every 3 hours.
- Your doctor might also recommend an oral corticosteroid, such as prednisone. Let them know if you have diabetes, as corticosteroids can make it difficult to regulate insulin levels.
- See a physical therapist for numbness related to neck issues. Since the nerves in the hands are rooted in the neck, spinal problems can cause numbness throughout the arms, hands, and fingers. If necessary, ask your doctor to refer you to a licensed physical therapist or chiropractor.
- Serious neck issues, such as bone spurs or a herniated disc, might require surgery.
- Quit smoking and drinking alcohol, if necessary. Smoking and heavy drinking can constrict blood flow and aggravate nerve issues. If you’re a smoker, ask your doctor or pharmacist for tips on quitting. If you drink more than the recommended amount, try to cut down your consumption.
- The recommended intake for men is up to 2 drinks per day. For women, the recommended amount is 1 drink.
EditManaging Underlying Conditions
- Ask your doctor if you need to consume more vitamin B12. Symptoms of a vitamin B deficiency include numbness in the hands, legs, or feet, balance problems, difficulty thinking, weakness, and yellowing of the skin. If you suspect you have a deficiency, talk to your doctor about making dietary changes or taking a vitamin supplement.
- Sources of vitamin B12 include red meat, poultry, seafood, dairy products, and eggs. Plants don’t make vitamin B12, so strict vegetarians and vegans are at a higher risk of developing a deficiency.
- Talk to you doctor before taking any vitamin or dietary supplement.
- Manage your blood glucose levels if you’re diabetic. High glucose levels and low insulin levels related to diabetes can cause diabetic neuropathy, which is a type of nerve damage. If necessary, work with your doctor or specialist to get your glucose levels under control. Your doctor or pharmacist can also recommend oral or topical medication to help relieve numbness and pain.
- Get tested for Raynaud’s phenomenon. People with Raynaud’s phenomenon have limited blood flow to the fingers and toes, which causes them to feel numb and cold. During attacks, fingers or toes might also turn white or blue. If your doctor suspects you have Raynaud’s phenomenon, they’ll perform a physical exam, order a blood test, and look at your fingernails under a microscope.
- If you have Raynaud’s phenomenon, do your best to keep your hands and feet warm. Regular exercise can help improve blood flow, but you should consult your doctor before starting a new workout routine.
- Your doctor might also prescribe medication to regulate your blood pressure or relax constricted blood vessels.
- Tobacco, alcohol, and caffeine can bring on attacks, so avoid these substances.
- Consult your doctor for numbness related to cancer treatment. Numbness in the hands, feet, and other body parts is a common side effect of chemotherapy drugs. Tell your doctor or specialist about these or any other side effects. They might be able to prescribe medication to help relieve pain, numbness, or tingling.
- Call emergency services if you experience sudden numbness accompanied by dizziness, weakness, confusion, difficulty talking, or a severe headache.
- See a doctor promptly if you experience numbness after suffering an injury.
EditSources and Citations
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