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4 Ways to Interpret Numbness in the Tips of the Fingers


Get Tested for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

One of the most common reasons for fingertip, hand and wrist numbness is carpal tunnel syndrome. The carpal tunnel runs through the center of the wrist, housing the median nerve that innervates the hands. If inflammation occurs in your wrist tissue due to trauma or overuse injuries, it may put pressure on the carpal tunnel and damage the median nerve. If you suspect that you have carpel tunnel issues due to repetitive activities like typing, assembly-line work or racquet sports, visit a physician for a physical exam and electrodiagnostic testing. One you've been diagnosed with the condition, your doctor may recommend splinting the hand, administering a localized corticosteroid shot or performing surgery to restore the carpal tunnel opening. As the nerves begin to heal, your pain should subside and the feeling will be restored in your fingers, hand and wrist.

Consider Ulnar Nerve Entrapment

As one of the three main arm nerves, the ulnar nerve begins at the collarbone and extends into your arm and hand. Termed the "funny bone," this nerve provides sensation for your pinky and a portion of your ring finger. This ulnar nerve can create numbness in these fingers when compressed, causing a weakened grip and problems with fine motor coordination in the hand. Computerized tomography (CT) scans are often used to look for the cause of the entrapment, as it may be due to an existing cyst, arthritis or a bone spur.

To treat this condition, avoid leaning on your elbow or putting undue pressure on your arm. Use a splint to keep your elbow straight while you're sleeping since curling it underneath you can exacerbate the symptoms. Many people respond well to anti-inflammatories, and surgery is rarely needed for the disorder.

Undergo Tests for Diabetes

Nerve damage in the hands, fingers and feet may indicate a case of peripheral neuropathy, which is a common complication of diabetes. It's important to have regular physicals and blood tests, so that this condition doesn't go undetected. After diagnosing you, your doctor will offer tips for managing your diabetes. If you're suffering impairment due to diabetic nerve damage, make sure you stay on top of your glucose levels. The better you manage them, the more your symptoms of numbness will improve. Occasionally with diabetes, finger numbness will turn into severe pain. Make sure you discuss your symptoms in detail, so you can control them before they become worse.

Watch for Corroborating Stroke Symptoms

While it's unlikely that you're having a stroke if your only symptom is finger numbness, you may notice that you're experiencing other symptoms at the same time. If you are having trouble speaking or understanding others, are numb on only one side of your body or have a sudden, severe headache, you could be suffering from a stroke--commonly called a "brain attack." During this time, your brain is deprived of adequate oxygen, which can affect innervation of the fingertips, hands and the remainder of the body. Strokes are a medical emergency, and the sooner you get medical assistance, the greater chance you'll have of minimizing cognitive damage after the episode.

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