When to Worry About Numbness in Your Fingers

Oct 02, 2023

When to Worry About Numbness in Your Fingers

When to Worry About Numbness in Your Fingers

You’ve likely experienced that moment when your hand "falls asleep" after sleeping in an awkward position or staying in one posture for too long. However, what if numbness in your fingers becomes a recurrent or persistent issue? When should you start to worry about it? 

At Sequoia Institute for Surgical Services, our team of experts encourages you to visit one of our three locations if your finger numbness has become persistent. With two board-certified hand surgeons on the team 一 Dr. Jonathan Liu and Dr. Huey Yuan Tien 一 you can trust that you’re in capable hands. Our dedicated specialists thoroughly evaluate your condition and develop a personalized treatment plan based on the cause of your numbness.

In the meantime, let’s explore the common causes of finger numbness and signs that it's time to seek medical attention.

Common causes of finger numbness

There are many benign causes of finger numbness, and it’s important to have a brief understanding of the potential causes of your finger numbness. 

Poor circulation

Temporary numbness in your fingers can occur due to poor circulation. Cold weather or sitting with your legs crossed for an extended period can restrict blood flow to your fingers, causing them to feel numb. Shaking or rubbing your hands can usually alleviate this type of numbness.

Pressure on your nerves

Numbness can also result from prolonged pressure on your hand or wrist nerves. This often happens when you hold your phone or use a computer for extended periods without proper wrist support. Changing your hand position or taking short breaks can help relieve this type of numbness.

Pinched nerve

A pinched nerve in your neck or upper back can cause numbness that radiates down your arm and into your fingers due to poor posture, injury, or underlying spinal conditions.

Carpal tunnel syndrome

Many think of carpal tunnel syndrome as a condition that causes wrist pain, but the reality is that it can also contribute to finger numbness, tingling, and pain. It occurs when the median nerve, which runs through your wrist, becomes compressed or irritated due to repetitive hand movements.

Raynaud's disease

Raynaud's disease is a condition that affects blood circulation to your extremities, including your fingers. In response to cold temperatures or stress, blood vessels in the fingers can constrict. This leads to both numbness as well as changes in your skin color. 

When to worry about numbness in your fingers 

While occasional finger numbness isn’t cause for concern (especially if it’s related to poor posture or keeping your hands in an odd position that restricts blood flow), there are situations when you should seek medical attention:

The numbness is persistent 

If numbness in your fingers persists or frequently recurs without an obvious cause, it could be a sign of an underlying medical condition. Don’t ignore chronic numbness, which may indicate nerve damage, vascular issues, or neurological problems.

Other symptoms accompany your numbness

If symptoms like weakness, loss of coordination, pain, or changes in vision, speech, or consciousness accompany finger numbness, seek immediate medical attention. These could be signs of a more serious neurological condition like stroke.

Your numbness appeared after an injury

If your finger numbness follows a trauma or injury, it's essential to get it evaluated. Injuries, including sports injuries, can damage nerves or blood vessels and lead to long-term issues if not treated promptly. 

You’re experiencing numbness in multiple extremities

Numbness affecting your fingers and other body parts, such as your legs or toes, may indicate a systemic issue that requires urgent medical assessment.

What happens next?

While occasional finger numbness often resolves with simple measures, never ignore persistent or concerning symptoms. The first step in finding relief is pinpointing the cause of your numbness. 

When you arrive for your evaluation, your Sequoia Institute for Surgical Services provider conducts a comprehensive exam, reviews your symptoms and medical history, orders diagnostic tests and imaging to diagnose any underlying conditions, and recommends the most suitable course of action for your situation. 

Depending on the cause of your numbness, you may benefit from:

  • Lifestyle modifications to improve posture
  • Medication
  • Wrist bracing (in the case of carpal tunnel syndrome)
  • Surgery to treat carpal tunnel syndrome or repair damaged tissues that compress nerves
  • Physical therapy 

Numbness in your fingers, hand, or wrist can be disconcerting, but know that our team of specialists are experts in diagnosing and treating issues in your hands and fingers. Call the location of your choice or book your appointment online to explore your treatment options.