There are many things that can cause numbness and tingling in the hands; but in my years of clinical experience, it usually comes down to one of three things: a problem in the wrist, a problem in the elbow, or a problem in the neck.
Most numbness and tingling is felt due to irritation of the nerves that come from the base of the neck, travel through the shoulder, past the elbow, past the wrist and into the fingers.
Before you can correct this condition, you need to first find out where the cause of the tingling is coming from. It usually comes from one of three places:
- Wrist – if you have a collapse of the carpal tunnel, you can get numbness and tingling in the fingers along with severe pain in the wrist and hand. This is typically caused by repetitive strain injury, especially for those that work at keyboards or use motorized equipment that sends a vibration through the arms. Diagnosis can be made through a thorough history and testing, along with nerve conduction testing.
- Elbow – this is the least common of the three. Chronic aggravation of the tendons at the base of the forearm (just below the elbow) can irritate the nerves as they pass through. You may have heard the terms “Golfer’s Elbow” and “Tennis Elbow” describe flare ups of these tendons. You certainly don’t have to play golf or tennis to strain these tendons; in fact, most people that I’ve seen with this problem rarely do play these sports. Diagnosis can be made through a thorough evaluation of your day to day habits, palpation and orthopedic testing.
- Neck – this is the most common of the three. Every peripheral nerve in the body attaches to the spinal cord at some point. To reach it, it travels through small holes in the sides of the spine. These holes can become closed by localized inflammation, bone spurs, spinal disc degeneration and spinal misalignment. This can be caused by prior accidents, or poor posture over time. If they close enough, they can irritate the nerve that goes down to the hand. Diagnosis can be made through a thorough history, nerve scan, xray and orthopedic testing.
Attending a clinic that has the appropriate technology to assess and diagnose your problem is step one to recovery.
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