What causes burning sensations in fingertips?
The neuropathy of burning sensations in the fingertips can arise from a diverse range of sources. Possible causes include, but are not limited to, the following pathologies: nerve entrapment, Multiple Sclerosis, strokes,migraines, Spinal Stenosis, diabetes, Raynaud's syndrome, arthritis and ulnar nerve dysfunction.
This unpleasant sensation ranges in severity from annoying to extremely painful, and while some individuals only experience intermittent episodes, others are troubled with constant symptoms. Persistent burning of the fingertips can have an adverse affect on the quality of a sufferer's life, and substantially curtail normal activities. Because this condition can be caused by a number of neuropathies, it is incumbent that those suffering from burning sensations in their fingertip seek medical advice. A neurologist can diagnose the underlying cause of your burning digits and prescribe an appropriate course of treatment.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: A Common Cause of Fingertip Burning
One of the most common causes of this condition is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, or CTS. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is caused when the median nerve, which supplies the hand, is compressed. The condition is often caused by repetitive wrist movements and is frequently observed in typists, cashiers and practitioners of sports that involve repetitive use of the hand or wrist, such as tennis players. One of the first things that a physician will look for when attempting to diagnose CTS is a lack of numbness in the little finger. This is because the median nerve does not supply this appendage. A nerve conduction study may also be performed. This will illustrate whether impulses travelling along the median are moving too slowly--a sure indication of CTS. A third test, an electromyogram, is often conducted to rule out other causes.This procedure checks to ensure that the muscle is receiving the proper blood supply--a symptom of a number of other conditions but not of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. The simplest way for your provider to diagnose CTS is by applying pressure to the wrists.This diagnostic procedure will produce immediate symptoms in the majority of individuals who suffer from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Treatments of CTS are commiserate with the condition's severity. Severe cases may require surgery to relieve pressure on the median nerve, which will eliminate symptoms in most cases. Milder cases are often treated with wrist splints, which alleviate symptoms by limiting the wrist's mobility. Another option, but one that is often not feasible, is to eliminate the activity that is causing the problem. Most people are either unwilling or unable to forfeit their job to rid themselves of CTS, and many others display a similar lack of enthusiasm when it is suggested that they give up their favourite sport.
Raynaud's Syndrome May be the Cause of Your Fiery Fingertips
Another major cause of burning fingertips is Reynaud's Syndrome. This condition is brought about when the blood vessels that supply the hands and/or feet narrow. In individuals with Reynaud's, episodes of burning fingertips are exacerbated by exposure to cold. Fingers become extremely pale before developing a blue tinge.There are two types of Reynaud's: primary and secondary. Primary Reynaud's is not associated with any other disease, while rheumatic conditions such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Scleroderma and Lupus are often catalysts for the development of secondary Reynaud's. There are a number of tests employed to diagnose Reynaud's. These include: Nailfold Capillaroscopy--the study of capillaries under a microscope, Antinuclear Antibody Test (ANA), which determines whether the body is producing the antibodies associated with connective tissue or autoimmune disorders, and Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate, a diagnostic test for inflammation. Symptoms of Reynaud's can be reduced by keeping the hands warmly covered in cold weather or when handling cold items, such as frozen foods. Severe cases of Reynaud's are generally treated with medicine that widen the affected blood vessels. People with Reynaud's should not smoke, since smoking further restricts blood flow. In addition, certain medications may aggravate the symptoms of Reynaud's. Your health care provider will advise you which medicines to avoid.
Spinal Stenosis and Burning Hand Syndrome
Spinal Stenosis is the medical term for a narrowing of the spinal canal, and is commonly found in people over 50. Narrowing of the spinal canal compresses the spinal cord, which can lead to hand neuropathy. Individuals diagnosed with Spinal Stenosis have reported burning sensations in their hands and fingertips. Spinal Stenosis is diagnosed with X-rays, MRIs or CAT scans. Treatment for this pathology includes physiotherapy and pain medication.These measure can often alleviate the individual's hand neuropathy.
Significance of Anxiety's Role in Burning Fingertips
Anxiety may be the culprit behind your burning fingertips. According to Roger Gould, a member of UCLA's Department of Psychiatry, moderate to severe anxiety can cause an individual to experience a host of physical symptoms. For individuals whose symptoms defy all medical explanations, the doctor recommends a short treatment with the anti-anxiety drug klonopin. If an individual's symptoms lessen or disappear while taking klonopin, anxiety is the most likely cause of the discomfort. Individuals who receive this diagnosis may be counselled to continue taking anti-anxiety medication to hold their symptoms at bay. Bio-feedback is also often recommended as a method to control anxiety, and for some, a thorough assessment of their lifestyle may be of use in pinpointing the origin of their nervousness.
Are You Getting Enough B-12?
Vitamin B-12 deficiency, which is referred to as pernicious anaemia, can cause numbness, tingling or burning sensations in the fingertips. Vegetarians are particularly vulnerable to this deficiency, since B-12 is rarely found in vegetables. Treatment for pernicious anaemia includes Folic acid and Vitamin B-12 supplementation. Dietary changes may be helpful for meat eaters, since meat is rich in B-12. It is strongly recommended that vegans supplement their diets with daily doses of B-12.
Speculation Can be Dangerous
Do not speculate about the cause of your burning fingertips. Self-diagnosis is foolhardy and dangerous. As with many disorders, burning fingertips can be caused by a myriad of pathologies, ranging from simple to serious. Consult your health practitioner for a proper diagnosis of your burning fingertips.