People Overlook Hand Numbness, But It’s a Serious Symptom

Most people associate hand numbness with carpal tunnel syndrome, and it is certainly true that this symptom is one of the manifestations of this disease. However, this seemingly-harmless symptom can actually point to various, often very dangerous, diseases. Sometimes, hand numbness can even be an early sign of a medical emergency. Therefore, it is certainly useful to know the less-known causes of hand numbness, which is what we discuss in this article.

We also have a dedicated article on carpal tunnel symptom, its prevention and treatment, which you can access via the following link: What To Do About Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

1. Diabetic Neuropathy

This is a type of nerve damage that occurs in some patients suffering from diabetes. High blood glucose levels can damage nerves throughout the body, but, most often, it affects nerves in the extremities.
Causes Of Hand Numbness Diabetic Neuropathy
Nerve damage manifests itself in the form of tingling, loss of sensation and control, pain and numbness in the hands and feet. Diabetic neuropathy is considered a serious complication of diabetes and, in severe and untreated forms, it can even require amputation.
Luckily, a regular maintenance of blood sugar levels can usually prevent the development of diabetic neuropathy completely.

2. Brachial Plexus Injury

Hand numbness may indicate an injury of a set of nerves in your shoulder called the brachial plexus. These nerves (pictured below) connect your spinal cord to your shoulder, arm and hand, and an injury in one of these nerves can be quite disabling.
Causes Of Hand Numbness Brachial Plexus Injury
Brachial plexus injuries are more common than you might think:
  • They are known as stingers or burners in the sports world, and contact sports athletes get them a lot.
  • Babies can suffer from an injured brachial plexus during birth.
  • Inflammation and tumors, too, compress and disturb the brachial plexus.
These injuries usually heal completely or in part, but it takes time and avoidance of further damage, though sensation in some parts of the arm and hand may never fully recover.

3. Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Something as trivial as a vitamin B12 deficiency can cause peripheral neuropathy, a nerve damage in your extremities.
Causes Of Hand Numbness Vitamin B12 Deficiency
We have written about the health benefits of B12, of which there are many, but a lack of this essential vitamin in our daily intake can lead to pernicious anemia, which affects the functioning of neurons, usually starting from the extremities.
This is only one symptom of the deficiency, others include:
  • Headaches
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • A bright red smooth tongue.

Vitamin B12 deficiency is a serious chronic condition that, in most cases, can be easily treated with supplements.

4. Ganglion Cysts

These non cancerous tumors can develop along the joints of your wrists and hands, as well as ankles and feet, although it is fairly rare. These cysts vary in size, and they feel like a bead filled with fluid.
Causes Of Hand Numbness Ganglion Cysts
Depending on their size and location, they can press on the nerve and interfere with movement. This can be painful, and can cause numbness in the hand, which likely means that the cyst will have to be removed or drained by a professional.

5. Lyme Disease

We wrote a whole article on Lyme disease, which you can read here. Let us just mention that this medical condition is transmitted to humans through tick bites.
Causes Of Hand Numbness Lyme disease
Lyme disease is on the rise worldwide, and it is dangerous because many people don’t even suspect they have it until it’s too late, as it can cause severe nerve damage and heart problems.
Still, if you catch the disease early, patients can recover completely. Numbness in the hands can be a sign of developing Lyme disease.

6. Raynaud’s disease

To put it simply, patients with Raynaud’s syndrome can suddenly have very poor blood circulation in the hands. The cause varies from person to person, with anything from cold temperatures to stress being capable of causing an episode.
Causes Of Hand Numbness Raynaud’s disease
During an episode, a person fingers (or toes) suddenly turns white. After a few minutes, the person loses sensation in the area and the affected region turns blue and cold, and numb, which means that the blood circulation was cut off from that area.
Mild episodes subside on their own, but more severe cases can be dangerous if not treated, as the tissues in the affected area may start deteriorating and amputation may be necessary to prevent further damage of the healthy tissue.

7. Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

You have nothing to fear if you experience numbness or weakness in the hands after a long day of typing or work that requires a lot of small motor movements, but recurring numbness is never a good sign.
Causes Of Hand Numbness Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
If you find that regular hand numbness and weakness is accompanied by tremors, migraines, a lack of coordination and confusion, you have to see a doctor, as it may indicate MS.
Unfortunately, this disease is still incurable, but doctors learned to manage the progression of the symptoms, which can really improve the quality of life of MS sufferers.

8. Cervical Disk Degeneration

With age, the cartilage disks that prevent our vertebrae from rubbing and affecting each other wear down. These disks are made of a gel-like substance, which gradually lose water and do a worse job at preventing friction and trauma of the nerves.
Causes Of Hand Numbness Cervical Disk Degeneration
This process is called disk degeneration, and the disease linked to it is called degenerative disc disease. Among the symptoms of this disease in the cervical area are radiating pain in the arm, as well as loss of sensation in the hands.
Factors like smoking, lack of exercise, obesity and genetic predisposition can make the disks wear down faster, with people as young as 20 now experiencing the first signs, according to some sources.

9. Paraneoplastic Syndromes

Causes Of Hand Numbness Paraneoplastic Syndromes
Admittedly not very common, these syndromes are a side-effect of fighting cancer. Paraneoplastic syndromes can affect any system, but it most commonly attacks the nervous system.
In these cases, your immune system attacks any nerve in the nervous system, the brain, or the spinal cord, but it commonly affects peripheral nerves and causes neuropathic symptoms, among which is loss of sensation. With time, the symptoms may improve, but some patients experience residual effects.

10. Fibromyalgia

Causes Of Hand Numbness Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is a difficult condition to live with or treat, as the causes are unknown, though professionals believe that both psychological and biological factors may influence the progression of the disease. It is also more common in women than in men.
Most known for the tender points, which cause constant pain to the patient (shown in the picture above), this condition has many other manifestations, with the symptoms following being just a few common ones:
  • hand numbness
  • fatigue
  • restlessness
  • trouble falling asleep
  • anxiety
  • depression.
We discuss this condition and its treatments in detail in a detailed article, follow the link The Symptoms and Treatments of Fibromyalgia to read it.

11. Stroke

Causes Of Hand Numbness Stroke
One of the early signs of stroke can be sudden-onset hand numbness, often accompanied by the inability to lift the affected hand.
It also needs to be noted that usually affects only one side of the body.
The possibility of stroke is a medical emergency, and if you experience these symptoms, along with other stroke symptoms, which you can learn to identify here, don’t hesitate and go to the emergency room.
The earlier you get a treatment, the more likely you are to recover without any major disability.
Disclaimer: If you experience recurring hand numbness, please turn to your doctor, who will be able to diagnose you. The facts in this article are provided for informative purposes only.
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