Numbness in the finger
In the case of numbness in the finger, a sensory disorder leads to decreased sensory perception in this area. Sensitive stimuli from this skin area are no longer transmitted to the brain. This is why this skin area feels “numb” to the patient.
Sometimes there is also an uncomfortable tingling sensation. Then there is a malfunction of the nerves. In this case, only contradicting stimuli are passed on to the brain.
Numbness is often temporary, but in some cases it is permanent. It depends on the cause.
A numb feeling in the finger can have many different causes. Therefore, depending on the cause, it can also occur with a wide variety of accompanying symptoms.
Alarm signs are numbness that occurs together with speech or vision disorders. Sudden symptoms of paralysis and severe headaches are also warm signals. These accompanying symptoms are indications of serious neurological diseases such as stroke, cerebral haemorrhage or multiple sclerosis.
Neck pain as an accompanying symptom indicates a herniated disc in the area of the cervical spine.
If an unpleasant tingling sensation occurs at night in addition to the numbness, a carpal tunnel syndrome is suspected.
If pain or abnormal sensations in the legs are symptoms of the patient, a polyneuropathy is more likely.
You can read more detailed information on this topic here: Numbness in the hand
Pain is a typical symptom accompanying numbness in the finger. On the one hand, numbness occurs more often after cuts or bruises. In the context of these injuries, pain is quite normal accompanying symptoms.
The pain does not always have to occur in the area of the fingers or the hand. Theoretically, pain in the entire course of the nerve is conceivable. The sensitive nerves, after they arise from the spinal cord of the cervical spine, pull along the arm into the hand and fingers. If the nerve is injured at one point, the pain can be felt as a shooting, burning pain along the nerve. So numbness in the finger can be accompanied by arm pain.
Back pain is a particularly common accompanying symptom. They are mostly located in the cervical spine area. Here the spinal nerves arise from the spinal cord segments.
If a herniated disc presses on part of the nerves, the patient suffers not only from back pain but also from numbness of the fingers. Should this be the case, an orthopedic surgeon should be consulted as soon as possible. Often this can be treated conservatively with pain relievers, heat application, and physical therapy. Sometimes, however, the disc tissue that injures the nerve has to be removed in an operation.
Inflammation can also play a role when it comes to numbness in the finger.
For one thing, the nerve itself can be inflamed. This would be typical for the clinical picture of multiple sclerosis, for example. Here, in the context of an autoimmune disease, inflammation centers repeatedly occur in the central nervous system.
However, inflammation can occur anywhere in the body. They damage the tissues around them. If an inflammation occurs in the area of the finger or on the hand that is not treated in time, it can ultimately also damage the nerves running there.
Causes of numbness in the finger
There are numerous causes of numbness in the finger.
It is usually a nerve disorder. This can occur along the entire course of the nerve from the brain to the finger.
Causes of numbness in the fingers that are in the central nervous system - brain and spinal cord - are diseases such as multiple sclerosis or a stroke.
A herniated disc can also press on the spinal cord or compress part of the spinal nerve around the spine.
In carpal tunnel syndrome, the nerve is only damaged at wrist level. Again, numbness in the finger is the result.
Other causes of a nerve disorder are polyneuropathy or a vitamin B 12 deficiency.
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome causes the median nerve on the wrist to become narrowed. This damages the nerve fibers. Actually, the nerve should supply the thumb, index finger and middle finger sensitively. However, if the nerve is pinched between the carpal bones and the overlying carpal ligament, it can no longer perform this function.
The result is numbness in these fingers. A tingling sensation in the affected fingers at night is also typical.
In pronounced cases, the nerve then has to be "freed" in a surgical procedure.
You can find more on this topic on our website Carpal tunnel syndrome
Numbness in the finger from a cut
A cutaneous nerve can be injured even with a superficial cut. The sensitive nerve endings of the skin are relatively superficial. If they are injured, they will feel numb. Usually this is only the case in the area of the cut.
In the case of deeper cuts, however, the entire nerve can be injured or, in the worst case, even severed. Then the numbness usually spreads over a whole or several fingers.
Numbness in the finger after being bruised
Numbness in the finger is also conceivable when the hand is crushed. Tissue is injured by the pinching. Not only connective tissue and muscles are damaged, but also the nerves in this area. If nerve fibers are damaged by pressure, they can no longer properly transmit stimuli. An area from which it no longer receives any sensitive stimuli then appears to the brain as "deaf".
However, the numbness usually improves after a bruise. Often at least the skin area becomes significantly smaller because surrounding nerve fibers take over part of the innervation.
Numbness of the finger in multiple sclerosis
A numb feeling in the finger can always be a sign of multiple sclerosis or, in the case of a known MS illness, indicate a new flare-up. Multiple sclerosis is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the central nervous system. Ultimately, the causes have not been fully researched, but it is assumed that it is an autoimmune disease. The symptoms are very diverse. In addition to visual disturbances and paralysis, this also includes sensory disturbances such as numbness.
You can find more about this clinical picture on our website multiple sclerosis
Numbness in the finger with a herniated disc of the cervical spine
A herniated disc in the cervical spine can also cause numbness. The nerves that are responsible for the sensitivity of the individual fingers come from the cervical plexus. This starts from the spinal nerves of the spinal cord in the area of the cervical spine. If the nerve fibers in this area are e.g. Damaged by a herniated disc, this leads to a feeling of numbness in the area of the fingers or even the whole hand. Especially in combination with pain radiating from the neck, numbness is typical for a herniated disc of the cervical spine.
More about this on our website: Is numbness indicative of a herniated disc ?, numbness in the arm
Numbness in the finger with polyneuropathy
A polyneuropathy damages the peripheral nervous system. So the nerves outside the brain and spinal cord are affected. Typical symptoms are sensitivity disorders such as tingling or numbness. They mainly occur in the legs. Numbness in the fingers is less often caused by polyneuropathy. But it ultimately depends on which nerves are damaged by the disease. The causes of polyneuropathy are extremely diverse. They range from alcohol to diabetes mellitus to a vitamin B12 deficiency.
More on this topic on our website: Polyneuropathy
Numbness in the finger due to vitamin B12 deficiency
Vitamin B12 is the most important vitamin for a healthy nervous system. If the body lacks vitamin B12, disorders in the nervous system can occur. Vitamin B12 is important for a stable myelin sheath. This is a fatty layer of myelin that surrounds a nerve fiber. Only if the myelin sheath is intact can the nerve carry out its function, the transmission of stimuli, without errors. Therefore, a vitamin B12 deficiency also leads to numbness and painful tingling.
More on this topic on our website: Vitamin B12 deficiency
First of all, the anamnesis is important for the diagnosis.The patient reports numbness in the finger. Then the doctor will ask about other accompanying symptoms and existing neurological or orthopedic concomitant diseases. This is a better way to narrow down the cause of the numbness.
The anamnesis is followed by a physical examination. The doctor examines the hand and checks for injuries or carpal tunnel syndrome.
A short neurological examination should also be carried out to determine whether there are other accompanying neurological symptoms.
This enables the doctor to decide relatively well which causes are possible and which further diagnostic measures should be taken.
Numbness in the finger has a wide variety of causes. The treatment of numbness, however, always depends on its cause. It is therefore essential to first find the exact cause of the numbness. Depending on the cause, targeted therapy must then be started.
One possible cause of numbness in the finger is multiple sclerosis. This inflammatory autoimmune disease is initially always treated with cortisone preparations in the acute episode. In order to stop the progression of the disease, there are now numerous modern drugs that influence the immune system.
Herniated discs in the cervical spine are treated by an orthopedic surgeon with pain relievers, acupuncture, or injection therapy. In serious cases, surgery may also be necessary. This is then carried out by a neurosurgeon.
In the case of a suspected diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome, treatment can initially be conservative with care. If this does not help, surgery can be considered.
If the numbness occurs as part of an injury to the hand, the hand surgeon is the first point of contact. Depending on the extent of the injury, he will treat the wound accordingly.
Which doctor treats numbness in the finger?
The causes of numbness in the finger are very heterogeneous and diverse. This also applies to treatment. It is therefore advisable to first consult your family doctor (general practitioner) if you feel numb in your finger. This is the quickest way to decide with which doctor the patient concerned is best looked after.
In general, the neurologist is the right contact for sensitivity disorders. However, if these are caused by a herniated disc or carpal tunnel syndrome, it is the orthopedic surgeon.
Also read the article: The sensitivity disorder.
The duration of numbness can vary widely. Most of the time, numbness in the finger is temporary and short-lived.
However, the symptoms can persist permanently if the underlying diseases are not treated promptly and adequately. This applies to almost all causes of multiple sclerosis, a herniated disc on the cervical spine and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Only in the case of injuries do you have a good spontaneous healing tendency if the nerve has not been completely severed.
Since numbness in the finger can have many different causes, it is very difficult to make general statements about the prognosis. Like treatment, the prognosis depends on the cause.
For example, multiple sclerosis is a chronic disease. A cure is not possible. However, their course can be delayed with medication. The prognosis of carpal tunnel syndrome is much better. If you don't wait too long before the operation, the symptoms will disappear completely after the operation.
Numbness of the finger during pregnancy
During pregnancy, there is increased fluid retention in the arms and legs. The wrists can also be affected. This often results in the median nerve in the carpal tunnel becoming narrowed.
The pregnant women then complain of numbness in the thumb, index and middle fingers and tingling pain. These complaints mainly occur towards the end of pregnancy and are made easier by strong weight gain. In most cases, however, the symptoms are not severe enough to require surgery.
Numbness in the finger after sleeping
Numbness in the fingers after sleeping is not uncommon. It often happens that the nerve is damaged by pressure at some point in its course, during night sleep. This usually happens through an uncomfortable sleeping position. After getting up, the nerve is relieved of pressure immediately, so the numbness usually disappears on its own after a short time.
So numbness after sleeping is not uncommon. If they persist or occur frequently, it still makes sense to consult a doctor.