What causes numbness in fingertips?

Updated November 21, 2016

We all get cold, very cold, from time to time, especially if we're not dressed warmly enough in the winter. But if the slightest and most minimal exposure to the cold causes your fingertips to go numb and turn white, or you haven't been subjected to the cold at all yet your fingertips are numb, you may have one of several conditions.

Raynaud's Disease

According to Dr. Sheldon G. Sheps of the Mayo Clinic, Raynaud's disease can cause your fingers to go numb. Doctors don't yet know what causes Raynaud's, but it appears the attacks are an overreaction to the body's response to cold. The blood vessels go into a vasospasm that seriously compromises the blood flow to the fingers. This disorder can be caused by using vibrating tools repeatedly, or by medical conditions such as scleroderma, Buerger's disease, rheumatoid arthritis and atherosclerosis, according to Sheps. In addition to numbness in the fingertips, the fingers can turn white if you're suffering from Raynaud's.


Buerger's disease occurs among people who use tobacco products. It is a rare condition of the veins and arteries in the legs and arms. If you are suffering from Buerger's, your blood vessels swell and may be blocked by thrombi, or blood clots. This condition generally makes itself known first in your feet and hands, and may spread to larger areas of your body. It destroys skin tissue and can lead to infection and even gangrene.


Frostbite, of course, leads to numbness of the hands. If your hands are cold and pale, and the flesh becomes painful and red as the frozen area of your hand thaws, this indicates frostbite. Skin and underlying tissues can freeze.

Vibration White Finger

There is a syndrome called vibration white finger, according to If your fingertips are numb, white, tingling or cold, or if you're experiencing a needles-and-pins sensation, you may have VWF. Spasms may even occur because the blood supply to your fingers has been restricted. If you have an extremely bad case of VWF, it can lead to gangrene and skin ulcers. This condition is also caused by using vibrating tools.

Other Conditions explains that finger numbness can be caused by the work you do if it involves repetitive movements. This can result in repetitive strain injury, or RSI. It is possible to damage the nerves in your fingers, as well as the nerves in your hands, wrists, arms and neck if you have sustained an injury or if you keep doing the same movements over and over, day in and day out. Even typing or texting too much can cause strain and injury to your fingers. Carpal tunnel syndrome can lead to numbness in the hands and fingers.

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About the Author

Cindi Pearce is a graduate of Ohio University, where she received her bachelor’s degree in journalism. She completed both the undergraduate and graduate courses offered by the Institute of Children’s Literature. Pearce has been writing professionally for over 30 years.