Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: numbness in hands ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   3 Comments )
Subject: numbness in hands
Category: Health
Asked by: hijos-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 11 Aug 2005 07:22 PDT
Expires: 10 Sep 2005 07:22 PDT
Question ID: 554440
Can't even sleep. no mater which way I lay or how many pillows, or no
pillow, can't restore feeling until I stand up and shake the hands up
& down for five or more minutes.  I have massaged the carpal tunnel
point in the forearm over and over but to no avail. FYI I work out at
the fitness center three times a week and lift a minimum amount of
weights, just wondering if this has something to do with this problem.
The numbness happens also while doing work with my hands during the
day sometimes. But I feel it coming and shake it off quickly. What can
I do?
Subject: Re: numbness in hands
Answered By: crabcakes-ga on 11 Aug 2005 14:59 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
As you can see below, Hijos, according to the NIH, there are numerous
causes of tingling and numbness in the hands (and other body parts as
well). Lifting weights may have damaged or irritated a nerve. You ay
want to refrain from weights or exercises that put pressure on your
wrists for a few weeks to see if you heal. Have you recently begun
taking any new supplements, vitamins or medicines, prescription or
over the counter? Is there diabetes in your family?

Please bear in mind that this answer is not a diagnostic, but for
informational purposes only. Please consult your doctor for a
definitive diagnosis.

·Remaining in the same seated or standing position for a long time. 
·Injuring a nerve supplying the body part where you feel the
sensation. If you have a neck injury, for example, you may feel the
sensation anywhere along your arm or hand. Similarly, a low back
injury can cause sciatica -- a sensation of numbness or tingling down
the back of your leg.
·Lack of blood supply to the area. For example, plaque buildup from
atherosclerosis in the legs can cause pain, numbness, and tingling
while walking. (This is called claudication.)
·Pressure on the spinal nerves, like that from a herniated disk. 
·Carpal tunnel syndrome. This can cause numbness or tingling in your
wrist, fingers, hand, or forearm.
·Certain medical conditions, including diabetes, underactive thyroid,
multiple sclerosis, seizures, or migraine headaches.
·Abnormal levels of calcium, potassium, or sodium in your body. 
·Vitamin B12 deficiency. 
·Transient ischemic attack (TIA) or stroke 
·Certain medications. 
·Toxic action on nerves, such as that from lead, alcohol, or tobacco. 
·Radiation therapy.

This same site advises that you call 911 or your doctor should the following occur:
Go to a hospital or call 911 if:
·Weakness or paralysis occurs with numbness or tingling.
·Numbness or tingling occur just after a head, neck, or back injury.
·You cannot control the movement of an arm or a leg or you have lost
bladder or bowel control.
·You are confused or have lost consciousness, even briefly.
·You have slurred speech, change in vision, difficulty walking, or weakness.
Call your doctor if:
·Numbness or tingling has no obvious cause (like a hand or foot "falling asleep"). 
·You have pain in your neck, forearm, or fingers. 
·You are urinating more often. 
·Numbness or tingling is in your legs and worsens when you walk. 
·You have a rash. 
·You have dizziness, vertigo, muscle spasm, or other unusual symptoms.

There is a difference between numbness and tingling, and knowing the
difference may help in the diagnosis. A complete loss of feeling in
the affected area is a symptom of numbness, while tingling is marked
by a pins and needles loss of feeling, such as you feel when have sat
on your foot for a while, and it feels ?asleep? when you try to stand.
This is from a temporary loss of circulation, and is not harmful. This
loss of feeling is called ?paresthesia?.

?Sensation is carried to the brain by neurons (nerve cells) running
from the outer parts of the body to the spinal cord in bundles called
nerves. In the spinal cord, these neurons make connections with other
neurons that run up to the brain. Paresthesias are caused by
disturbances in the function of neurons in the sensory pathway. This
disturbance can occur in the central nervous system (the brain and
spinal cord), the nerve roots that are attached to the spinal cord, or
the peripheral nervous system (nerves outside the brain and spinal
Peripheral disturbances are the most common cause of paresthesias.

 "Falling asleep" occurs when the blood supply to a nerve is cut
off--a condition called ischemia. Ischemia usually occurs when an
artery is compressed as it passes through a tightly flexed joint.
Sleeping with the arms above the head or sitting with the legs tightly
crossed frequently cause numbness and tingling.
Direct compression of the nerve also causes paresthesias. Compression
can be short-lived, as when a heavy backpack compresses the nerves
passing across the shoulders. Compression may also be chronic.

 Chronic nerve compression occurs in entrapment syndromes. The most
common example is carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel syndrome
occurs when the median nerve is compressed as it passes through a
narrow channel in the wrist. Repetitive motion or prolonged vibration
can cause the lining of the channel to swell and press on the nerve.
Chronic nerve root compression, or radiculopathy, can occur in disk
disease or spinal arthritis.?

?Sensory nerves supply or innervate particular regions of the body.
Determining the distribution of symptoms is an important way to
identify the nerves involved. For instance, the median nerve
innervates the thumb, the first two fingers, half of the ring finger,
and the part of the hand to which they connect.

The ulnar nerve innervates the other half of the ring finger, the
little finger, and the remainder of the hand. Distribution of symptoms
may also aid diagnosis of the underlying disease. Diabetes usually
causes a symmetrical "glove and stocking" distribution in the hands
and feet. Multiple sclerosis may cause symptoms in several, widely
separated areas.?

?Treatment of paresthesias depends on the underlying cause. For limbs
that have "fallen asleep," restoring circulation by stretching,
exercising, or massaging the affected limb can quickly dissipate the
numbness and tingling. If the paresthesia is caused by a chronic
disease such as diabetes or occurs as a complication of treatments
such as chemotherapy, most treatments are aimed at relieving symptoms.
Anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin or ibuprofen are recommended
if symptoms are mild.

In more difficult cases, antidepressant drugs such as amitriptyline
(Elavil) are sometimes prescribed. These drugs are given at a much
lower dosage for this purpose than for relief of depression. They are
thought to help because they alter the body's perception of pain. In
severe cases, opium derivatives such as codeine can be prescribed. As
of 1998, trials are being done to determine whether treatment with
human nerve growth factor will be effective in regenerating the
damaged nerves.?

This site goes on to suggest trying a capsaicin containing crème on
the affected area. I would proceed with caution, trying a very small
amount on an easily accessible area first. Some friends of mine,
including myself have  tried this type of crème and it is EXTREMELY
hot, and does not wash off easily. Application of milk, cream and
yogurt to the skin only slightly calmed the skin. Beware!

?Abnormal nerve sensations such as pins-and-needles, tingling,
burning, prickling or similar feelings are all known as
"paresthesias". They usually result from nerve damage due to pressure,
entrapment, or nerve diseases. Continued nerve damage can lead to hand
numbness and permanent loss of feeling. Any abnormal sensation needs
medical investigation.?

Many causes of paresthesias:

CTS (Carpal Tunnel Syndrome)
?Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by pressure on a nerve (median
nerve) in the wrist. The symptoms include tingling, numbness,
weakness, or pain of the fingers, thumb, and hand.

Conditions that may contribute to the development of carpal tunnel
syndrome include pregnancy, hypothyroidism, diabetes, arthritis, and
obesity. Improper or prolonged use of the hands or wrist can also put
pressure on the median nerve by causing swelling or thickening of
tissues close to or within the carpal tunnel. Prior wrist injuries
(especially fractures) make a person more likely to develop carpal
tunnel syndrome.?

?Carpal tunnel syndrome can often be treated by avoiding activities
that irritate the wrist, applying ice, wearing a night splint, and
taking anti-inflammatory medications. Avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and
tobacco; strengthening the arms and shoulders; and increasing intake
of vitamin B6 may also help. In some cases, surgery may be helpful.?

?The carpal tunnel is a narrow tunnel formed by the bones and other
tissues of your wrist. This tunnel protects your median nerve. The
median nerve gives you feeling in your thumb, and index, middle and
ring fingers. But when other tissues in the carpal tunnel, such as
ligaments and tendons, get swollen or inflamed, they press against the
median nerve. That pressure can make part of your hand hurt or feel

?Your doctor will probably ask you about your symptoms. He or she may
examine you and ask you how you use your hands. Your doctor may also
do these tests:
·	Your doctor may tap the inside of your wrist. You may feel pain or a
sensation like an electric shock.
·	Your doctor may ask you to bend your wrist down for 1 minute to see
if this causes symptoms.
·	Your doctor may have you get a nerve conduction test or an
electromyography (EMG) test to see whether the nerves and muscles in
your arm and hand show the typical effects of carpal tunnel syndrome.
Tips on relieving carpal tunnel syndrome 
·	Prop up your arm with pillows when you lie down. 
·	Avoid using your hand too much. 
·	Find a new way to use your hand by using a different tool. 
·	Try to use the other hand more often. 
·	Avoid bending your wrists down for long periods.

Treatment of Carpal Tunnel
?Initial treatment usually includes rest, immobilization of the wrist
in a splint, and occasionally ice application. Patients whose
occupations are aggravating the symptoms should modify their
activities. For example, computer keyboards and chair height may need
to be adjusted to optimize comfort. These measures, as well as
periodic resting and range of motion stretching exercise of the wrists
can actually prevent the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome that are
caused by repetitive overuse. Underlying conditions or diseases are
treated individually. Fractures can require orthopedic management.
Obese individuals will be advised regarding weight reduction.

Rheumatoid disease is treated with measures directed against the
underlying arthritis. Wrist swelling that can be associated with
pregnancy resolves in time after delivery of the baby!
Several types of medications have been used in the treatment of carpal
tunnel syndrome. Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) has been reported to relieve
some symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, although it is not known how
this medication works. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can also
be helpful in decreasing inflammation and reducing pain. Side effects
include gastrointestinal upset and even ulceration of the stomach.
These medications should be taken with food and abdominal symptoms
should be reported to the doctor. Corticosteroids can be given by
mouth or injected directly into the involved wrist joint. They can
bring rapid relief of the persistent symptoms of carpal tunnel
syndrome. Side effects of these medications when given in short
courses for carpal tunnel syndrome are minimal. However,
corticosteroids can aggravate diabetes and should be avoided in the
presence of infections.?

Often splints are used to alleviate symptoms before surgery is considered:
?Carpal tunnel syndrome is a repetitive stress injury that occurs when
the median nerve in the wrist is compressed for long periods of time.
This compression can cause permanent nerve damage if left untreated.
According to the National Institutes of Health, carpal tunnel syndrome
is five times more common in women than in men and most often occurs
in people between the ages of 30 and 60.
Conservative treatment options include wrist splints, rest,
non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), diuretics, cold
laser, vitamin B6 and steroid injections, according to the study.
"Simple treatments like nighttime splits can be useful when you get at
it early, but many people don't seek treatment right away, and light
carpal tunnel can go for long periods of time, causing permanent nerve
injury," said Peter Stevens, a physician's assistant in the
orthopedics department at Ochsner Clinic Foundation Hospital in New

?Conservative treatment options include splinting the wrist in a
neutral position and ultrasound therapy. Orally administered
corticosteroids can be effective for short-term management (two to
four weeks), but local corticosteroid injections may improve symptoms
for a longer period. A recent systematic review demonstrated that
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, pyridoxine, and diuretics are no
more effective than placebo in relieving the symptoms of carpal tunnel
syndrome. If symptoms are refractory to conservative measures or if
nerve conduction studies show severe entrapment, open or endoscopic
carpal tunnel release may be necessary.?

?Medical treatments, especially for carpal tunnel syndrome, include
wearing a wrist splint at night (if you wear it during the day, it can
interfere with doing your job and cause more damage) and physical
therapy. Hot wax treatments--now provided in some workplaces--are not
recommended for the treatment of MSDs. In fact, it can further
aggravate the condition, rather than cure it. In some instances,
anti-inflammatory drugs may be recommended--such as cortisone.
Applying these drugs through ultrasound--rather than injection--is
recommended. Some companies are using vitamin B-6 to treat these
health problems. Studies have shown this to be ineffective in treating
work-related MSDs. In fact, the high dose needed to produce any
results can be dangerous--it can cause serious nerve damage. Surgery
is often prescribed as a last resort--but is not recommended because
the condition can return.?

Splints can often be found in your local pharmacy:

Illustration of carpal tunnel syndrome

UTS (Ulnar tunnel syndrome)
?Ulnar tunnel syndrome is caused by pressure on the ulnar nerve at the
wrist. This nerve is found on the pinkie-finger side of the wrist.
Overuse or repetitive use of the hands or wrist may cause swelling or
thickening of the tissues close to the ulnar nerve. Swelling from a
ganglion can also affect the ulnar nerve. Bicycle riders may develop
ulnar tunnel syndrome from holding on to the handlebars.

Symptoms of ulnar tunnel syndrome include weakness, numbness and
tingling, and pain in the ring finger, pinkie finger, or both.?

Illustration of the ulnar nerve in relation to the hand

Repetitive Stress Injury
Carpal Tunnel is a repetitive stress injury. ?This painful and
potentially crippling disease is caused by repeated bending and
twisting of the wrist, especially when force is applied--such as in
meat cutting, poultry boning, packing/wrapping operations, working as
a cashier, and cake decorating. This constant bending inflames the
tendons in your hand and wrist, causing the nerve that runs through a
tunnel in the wrist (called the carpal tunnel) to be squeezed and
pinched. When the nerve is pinched or squeezed, your hands go numb.
The first symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, in fact, are nighttime
numbness of the hand. Then over time as the nerve continues to get
squeezed, the muscles in your hand start wasting away.

If this condition is not treated promptly at the first signs of
tingling or numbness, it can lead to permanent weakening of your hand.
Surgery--often performed as a cure for this disorder--is rarely
successful for work-related carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel
syndrome is often mis- diagnosed as arthritis. Carpal tunnel syndrome,
however, only affects the first four fingers of your hand, while
arthritis can affect the whole hand.?

·Repetitive stress injury is the name given to a group of conditions
that are caused when too much stress is placed on a joint. Repetitive
stress injury happens when the same action is performed over and over.
·Performing the same action over and over can cause pain and swelling
in the muscles, tendons and bursae (pronounced bur-say).
·Tendons are the strong flexible bands of tissue that attach muscles to bones.   
·Bursae are small sacs filled with fluid that act as cushions between
tendons and bones.  Bursa is the name used to talk about just one sac.
·The pain and swelling of repetitive stress injury is called inflammation.
·The two most common types of repetitive stress injury are tendinitis
and bursitis.  Tendinitis is inflammation of a tendon.  Bursitis is
inflammation of a bursa.

There you go, Hijos. If you decide to take the vitamins mentioned in
this answer, be sure to follow label directions, and not overdo it!
Excess amounts of vitamins as well as excessive ibuprofen (Advil,
Motrin) can lead to other problems!

I wish you the best and that you can find some relief! (Advil before
bed and a splint while sleeping helped me tremendously!)

If any part of this answer is unclear, please request an Answer
Clarification, before rating. I will be glad to assist you further, on
this question.

Sincerely, Crabcakes

Search Terms
Paresthesia + hands
Carpal Tunnel syndrome
Ulnar tunnel syndrome
Repetitive stress injury
Numbness + hands
Tingling + numbness + hands
hijos-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Great Work. Thank You.

Subject: Re: numbness in hands
From: elids-ga on 11 Aug 2005 08:02 PDT
The possible reasons are countless, you could start by reading the
most common sources of that kind of discomfort, I believe minor
sciatica could easily fit the bill here.
Subject: Re: numbness in hands
From: linezolid-ga on 11 Aug 2005 15:14 PDT
Since the sciatic nerve is derived from the lumbosacral spinal nerves,
and ennervates the legs, it cannot be involved in numbness or tingling
of the hands or arms.  Ergo, this is not sciatica.

Although this could be a relatively benign condition as described by
Crabcakes, it also could be something more serious, relating to
compression of or damage to the cervical spine nerve roots (in the
neck), or even to the spinal cord itself.  You description of the
symptoms (when, how long, severity, where exactly in your body, and so
on) is vague, and thus it is impossible to say with any certainty what
the origin of your symptoms is.  In any case, they sound serious
enough to warrant a trip to the doctor for evaluation!  Damaged nerves
regnerate only poorly, if at all, and you need to find out what is
happening to you!  Chalking it up to a benign cause based on an
internet search is not reasonable.
Subject: Re: numbness in hands
From: tekin21-ga on 27 Aug 2005 16:33 PDT
Hello.  I has a similiar problem with numbness in my hands and my
chiropractor was able to fix it in 1 session.  The numbness stopped
after 3 days.  So you might want to try a good chiropractor and a good
nutritional supplement that follows pharmaceutical grade good
manufacturing practices (GMPs).  Good luck!

Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  

Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy