If you've experienced tingling in your fingers and hand, you likely have a pinched nerve, either in your neck or farther down your arm. In either case, exercises for pins and needles in the hands can often help. Severely compressed nerves might require surgical intervention.
However, in some cases, tingling in the fingers and hands can indicate a serious underlying medical condition, such as a stroke, spinal cord injury or multiple sclerosis. It can also be caused by diabetes or alcohol abuse, as explained by the Mayo Clinic. In these situations, exercises for numb fingers will not fix the problem.
Seek immediate medical attention if your tingling is accompanied by weakness, confusion, dizziness or a sudden severe headache, as advised by Mayo Clinic. This can be a sign of a life-threatening condition.
Consider the Cause
Tingling in your hands or fingers can be caused by cervical radiculopathy — a pinched nerve in your neck, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. In addition to tingling, you might also notice pain that occurs with a particular neck position, or pain that shoots down your arm. If the nerve has been compressed for a longer period of time, you might also notice weakness in your arm muscles.
These symptoms can also be caused by a pinched nerve in your elbow or wrist — conditions that include cubital tunnel syndrome, or more commonly, carpal tunnel syndrome. These conditions cause symptoms in specific parts of the hands and fingers, correlating with the affected nerves.
Note that these conditions typically only affect one side of the body at a time. If you have symptoms in both arms, seek medical attention. This is commonly a sign of an underlying medical condition rather than a pinched nerve, according to Mayo Clinic.
Exercises for Numb Fingers
To help relieve your symptoms, try exercises for pins and needles in the hands. To decrease pressure on nerves that can cause tingling in the arms, focus on improving your posture advises the North American Spine Society.
Nerve glides can also reduce these symptoms. Median nerve glides are performed for carpal tunnel syndrome while ulnar nerve glides are used to treat cubital tunnel syndrome, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Hold each position for three to seven seconds before moving on to the next step. Repeat 10 times.
Move 1: Scapular Retraction
- Sit up straight on a firm surface. Look straight ahead.
- Keeping your arms relaxed, squeeze your shoulder blades down and together — as if you are trying to put them into your back pockets.
- Hold for 10 seconds, then relax. Repeat 10 times, working up to a 30-second hold.
Move 2: Chin Retraction
- Sit up tall and squeeze your shoulder blades together.
- While looking straight ahead, pull your chin backward, as if you are making a "double chin." You should feel a stretch in the muscles along the back of your neck.
- Hold for 10 seconds, then relax. Repeat 10 times, gradually increasing the length of the hold.
Move 3: Median Nerve Glides
- Begin with your hand in a fist, keeping your thumb outside your fingers.
- With your thumb next to your hand, straighten your fingers.
- Tip your wrist backward.
- Stick your thumb out to the side as if you are hitchhiking.
- Using your opposite hand, apply gentle pressure to your thumb to increase the amount of stretch.
Move 4: Ulnar Nerve Glides
- Straighten your arm out in front of you.
- Curl your fingers and wrist in toward your forearm.
- Straighten your fingers and tip your wrist backward.
- Bend your elbow.
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: "Cervical Radiculopathy (Pinched Nerve)"
- Mayo Clinic: "Numbness in Hands: Causes"
- Cleveland Clinic: "Why Cubital Tunnel Syndrome Is No Laughing Matter"
- Cleveland Clinic: "Carpal Tunnel Syndrome"
- North American Spine Society: "Cervical Exercise: The Backbone of Spine Treatment"
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: "Ulnar Nerve Entrapment at the Elbow (Cubital Tunnel Syndrome)"
- American Academy of Orthpaedic Surgeons: "Carpal Tunnel Syndrome"