What Causes Numbness in Fingers?

A person holds their hands in front of a computer screen.
  • Numbness in your fingers could be caused by several conditions, including those that affect the nerves in the body.

  • There are various treatment options available for finger numbness, but this will depend on the condition you are diagnosed with.

  • It’s important to seek medical attention if you experience numb fingers, as it could indicate nerve damage.

What is Finger Numbness?

Numbness in fingers can feel different from person to person.

However, finger numbness is generally a loss of sensation or a tingling feeling in the fingers. This numbness and tingling may even spread to your hands.

Numbness can also occur individually in your middle finger, pinky finger, or ring finger.

It may feel like your fingers or hands have ‘fallen asleep,’ resulting in grip weakness, which makes it challenging to hold different objects.

Additionally, it can also be difficult to move numb fingers.

It’s important to note that numbness in your fingers could be caused by a variety of conditions, including:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Arthritis
  • Nerve damage
  • Compression neuropathy

Causes of Numb or Tingling Fingers

There are several causes of numbness in the fingers, and it’s important to see a health care provider who can perform a physical exam to determine the source of the issue.

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS)

This is a condition that affects the hand and wrist. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve — a nerve that connects the forearm to the hand — becomes compressed.

The narrow passage that the median nerve passes through is called the carpal tunnel.

The main carpal tunnel symptoms are numbness, tingling, or weakness in the fingers and hands, particularly in the thumb, index, and middle fingers.

These symptoms can also cause pain that spreads up the arm.

How do you develop carpal tunnel syndrome?

Usually, carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by repetitive motions — like typing, sewing, or writing — which causes something called overuse injuries.

Certain medical conditions can also be the underlying cause of carpal tunnel, such as diabetes, hypothyroidism, and arthritis.

An arm is outstretched and the fingers are curled.

Peripheral neuropathy

This is a health condition caused by damage to a person’s peripheral nervous system (PNS), which comprises the main nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord.

This nerve damage can prevent your nerves from functioning normally. One of the symptoms of impaired nerve function includes finger and hand numbness. Other symptoms include:

  • Weak or twitchy muscles
  • Burning or shooting pain in the affected area
  • Sensitivity to touch
  • Changes in blood pressure

Peripheral neuropathy can be caused by:

  • Diabetes
  • Diabetic neuropathy
  • Alcoholism or excessive alcohol consumption
  • Bacterial and viral infections like Lyme disease and HIV/AIDS
  • Toxin exposure, such as alcohol and industrial chemicals
  • Hereditary disorders like Porphyria or Tangier disease
  • Injury

Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation in the joints which can lead to pain and numbness in the fingers.

When rheumatoid arthritis spreads to the nerves that control sensation in the fingers, it can compress them and cause numbness and tingling.

This type of arthritis includes other symptoms depending on how long you have had the condition and its severity.

What are the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis?

The following symptoms could indicate that you have RA:

  • Joint pain and stiffness
  • Swelling of the joints
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Some or complete loss of joint function.

Nerve compression

When a nerve in the body becomes compressed or pinched by its surrounding tissue, bones, and ligaments, it can lead to symptoms like numbness in certain areas, including the fingers.

This is called compression neuropathy and if left untreated, nerve compression can lead to permanent nerve damage.

What are the symptoms of nerve compression?

Typically, nerve compression symptoms start out as pain in a specific area. Additional symptoms include:

  • Weakness in the affected area
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Changes in sensation
  • Loss of reflexes or reduced range of motion
  • Swelling in the affected area

Myofascial pain syndrome (MPS)

This condition is a type of chronic pain disorder that affects the fascia, the connective tissue that surrounds the muscles.

MPS is caused when a trigger point — small areas of a muscle — becomes tight and tender.

Trigger points in the neck, shoulder, or arm muscles can make your fingers numb as the nerves become irritated or compressed.

A man in a blue tee shirt holds his fingers and clenches his face in pain.

What are the symptoms of myofascial pain syndrome?

Other than numb fingers, symptoms of MPS include:

  • Pain and tenderness in the muscles
  • Limited range of motion that affects the ability to perform daily tasks
  • Sleep disturbances due to discomfort and pain
  • Headaches
  • Mood disorders such as depression and anxiety

Treatment Options for Numbness in Fingers

Some of the treatments your doctor may prescribe include:

  • Steroid injections to reduce swelling and pain
  • A surgical procedure called cubital tunnel release
  • Wearing a wrist brace
  • Using a mouse pad with a built-in wrist rest
  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy

Where Can I Learn More About Numbness in Fingers?

We understand that you may be worried if you experience numb fingers.

Book a telehealth consultation with LifeMD to get treatment and peace of mind — all from the comfort of your own home.

LifeMD makes it easy to stay on top of your health because talking to a doctor, filling your prescriptions, getting your labs done—and more—are all easy and cost-effective. Come discover a healthcare solution built around you and your life.

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This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Consult a healthcare professional or call a doctor in the case of a medical emergency.

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