A tingling sensation, a symptom also known as paresthesia, can result from many different conditions and diseases. The conditions most likely to cause tingling in the fingers include those that affect the nerves and blood vessels. Although not all causes are serious and resolve quickly--as for instance when a person stays in one position too long--a persistent tingling sensation in the fingers should not be ignored.
Raynaud’s syndrome, also called Raynaud’s disease or Raynaud’s phenomenon, occurs when the tiny blood vessels in the fingers and toes constrict, or enter a state of vasospasm, as described by MayoClinic.com. Several different conditions can trigger Raynaud’s syndrome, including extreme cold and emotional upset. Smoking and working with vibrating machinery increases the risk of developing Raynaud’s syndrome.
As the blood vessels leading to the fingers and toes spasm, they become narrower, decreasing the supply of blood and oxygen to the area. This causes the fingers to turn white and feel numb or tingling. Although rare, a severe case can cause the arteries to permanently narrow or become blocked, leading to deformities of the fingers due to lack of blood.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome describes a condition in which the median nerve—the nerve that supplies feeling and movement to the thumb-side of the hand—becomes compressed. The portion of the wrist where the median nerve enters the hand is known as the carpal tunnel. Those who perform repetitive motions involving the hand and wrist develop carpal tunnel syndrome. The movements involved in typing on a keyboard, sewing, assembly-line work, writing, playing some sports, and playing musical instruments can cause swelling in the carpal tunnel, compressing the nerve. MedlinePlus describes the most prominent symptom as numbness or tingling in the thumb and the next two to three fingers. Other symptoms include tingling in the palm; pain in the wrist, often extending to the elbow; lack of fine motor coordination; and muscle wasting.
Diabetes, a disease involving the presence of too much sugar, or glucose, in the blood, leads to many associated conditions. Neuropathy, or nerve pain caused by damaged nerves, affects approximately 60 to 70 percent of patients with diabetes, according to the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse. How diabetes causes neuropathy involves several factors including the increased glucose damaging the nerves, an autoimmune response in which the immune system causes swelling of the nerves, damage to the blood vessels that supply the nerves, and lifestyle factors such as smoking and alcohol use.
The most common type of neuropathy, peripheral neuropathy, affects the nerves outside of the central nervous system, most commonly the nerves in the arms, legs, hands and feet. Symptoms include numbness and tingling, usually in the fingers and toes, which can spread to the hands and feet and up the arms and legs. Other symptoms include muscle wasting and weakness.