Numbness in Hands

Numbness in your hands can mean many things. You need to think about how often and when it happens, how long it lasts and what other symptoms you might have. Your healthcare provider can help you find out what could be causing your hand numbness and then help you find the best way to treat it.


What is numbness in hands?

Numbness in your hands is an irregular feeling that can be a symptom of many different conditions. Another name for this is paresthesia. You can also have tingling along with numbness in your hands, something you might call “pins and needles.”


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Possible Causes

What are the most common causes of numbness in hands?

Numbness in your hands can be a symptom of many causes, which run from mild and temporary to serious medical conditions. The most common cause is damage or compression of the nerves in your hand. Maybe you slept too long in one position, or leaned on your elbows for too long. Maybe you have a lump or bump that’s putting pressure on your nerves.

Other causes of numbness in your hands from nerve issues include:

  • Nerve damage in your hands, arms or neck.
  • A herniated disc that puts pressure on your spinal nerves.
  • Nerve pressure caused by tumors, infection or enlarged blood vessels.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome, a common condition that affects the nerves in your wrist. This often happens when people use their hands and wrists for repetitive motions at work.
  • Ulnar nerve compression from bending or leaning on your elbows for too long.

Your hands can go numb from other diseases, including:

Other causes may include:

What tests will your healthcare provider do to determine the cause of your hand numbness?

Your healthcare provider will begin your examination by taking a medical history to find out how long your hands have been numb and other possible symptoms.

They may perform several tests to determine the cause, including:

Your provider conducts tests to rule out serious causes like tumors and strokes. These include:

Once your healthcare provider determines the cause of your hand numbness, they’ll speak with you about the best way to treat the underlying condition of this symptom.


Care and Treatment

How is numbness in hands treated?

Treatment for numbness in your hands will depend on what’s causing it.

For instance, if medication is causing numbness in your hands, your provider may be able to switch it to another type of drug. Or, if you have something that can be stopped with medication, like an infection, your provider will prescribe it.

If you have a vitamin or mineral deficiency, your provider may suggest a change to the foods you eat and/or taking some type of supplement.

Some treatments may be surgical procedures. You might need a procedure if you have a tumor, a back problem or carpal tunnel syndrome.

Your provider may suggest you see other healthcare specialists for treatment, like those who practice neurology, rheumatology, surgery or pain management.

What can I do at home to treat numb hands?

You may be able to use some home remedies to treat hand numbness, including:

  • Taking over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers, like ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
  • Wearing splints on your hands as recommended.
  • Using heat or cold therapy.
  • Resting your hands if you use them for repeated tasks.
  • Doing exercises that help your hands get stronger.

What are the possible complications or risks of not treating numb hands?

If your hands are numb because of something minor or temporary, you might not have any complications. If your hands are numb because of a more serious reason, you’ll need treatment for the underlying cause.

Can numbness in your hands be prevented?

You may be able to prevent numbness in your hands from certain causes. You can:

  • Do your best to manage chronic conditions, like diabetes or high blood pressure.
  • Take breaks if you use your hands for repeated tasks.
  • Have regular medical exams and tests.


When To Call the Doctor

When should hand numbness be treated by a healthcare provider?

You may wonder when you should worry about hand numbness. If numbness in your hands lasts for more than a few hours, or if you notice that it comes and goes, you should seek prompt medical attention. It could be a sign of a serious medical condition.

It’s especially important to seek medical attention if your hands are numb and you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Numbness in other parts of your body.
  • Paralysis.
  • Confusion.
  • Dizziness.
  • Slurred speech.
  • Loss of bowel and/or bladder control.
  • Rash.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

You’ve probably woken up and found that your hand or arm is numb because you slept soundly in one position all night. Maybe tingling — that ‘pins and needles’ feeling or burning follows the numbness. If this happens once in a while, you’re not likely to worry. If hand numbness happens more often and if it occurs with other symptoms, make an appointment with a healthcare provider. They’ll help you find out why your hand is numb and what to do next.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed on 08/16/2023.

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