When you have numbness or tingling in your hands and fingers, you have loss sensation due to a medical issue. It is possible to have other symptoms accompany numbness and tingling, including pain, burning or weakness. Numbness and tingling in hands and fingers in certain situations can be a sign of a life-threatening condition.
In most cases, numbness and tingling in the hands and fingers is caused by a compressed nerve. The compressed nerve can block sensations felt in the arm, hand and fingers. If the nerve is irritated, it can also cause a person to feel numbness in the extremities.
Your doctor will likely have you go through several tests if you continuously complain of hand and finger numbness. The physician may perform a neurological exam to determine your level of sensitivity in the area. X-rays may be ordered if an injury is the suspected cause of the condition. Electromiography is a test used to determine any signs of nerve damage. Blood tests are also likely to be ordered.
Some potential causes of numbness and tingling in hands and fingers include alcoholism, carpal tunnel syndrome, diabetes, lyme disease, stroke, syphilis, peripheral neuropathy, HIV, Raynaud's disease and spinal cord injuries. Because there are many causes of numbness and tingling in the hands and fingers, a doctor will need to evaluate any other symptoms to determine why you are experiencing this symptom.
In some cases, less serious reasons can cause a person to experience numbness and tingling in the arms and fingers. For example, heavy handbags and pocketbooks can put pressure on the nerves of the arm and cause compression. Also, if you have your hands above your head for an extended amount of time, it could cause tingling because you are not getting enough blood to the area. Exposure to cold weather can also cause this condition, since the arteries can narrow during this time and limit blood supply to the area.
You should proceed to the emergency room if you have certain symptoms along with the numbness and tingling. These symptoms include the numbness coming on suddenly or extending up the entire arm. Confusion, severe headache and paralysis are other symptoms that can occur with hand numbness and tingling that are considered a medical emergency.