Last reviewed by Dr. Raj MD on January 12th, 2022.
What do numb fingertips mean?
This is when a person has a loss of sensation in their fingertips. It is something that has happened to everyone at sometime in their lives and it could be anything from being exposed to the cold to having an underlying medical condition. Usually it will go away in a little bit so it is not something that a person needs to be worried about.
Numb Fingertips Causes
There are many different reasons that a person can have numb fingertips. Some of these causes can include:
- Being exposed to the cold such as cold temperatures or cold water.
- Rigorous exercises such as running or endurance training. This is usually because when you are doing exercises that make maximum use of the muscles in your legs your body will naturally increase the blood flow to these areas while decreasing the blood flow to your fingertips. Not having a sufficient blood supply to your fingertips can cause them to feel numb.
- Continual typing or any activity that causes a person to use their wrists and hands extensively causing carpal tunnel syndrome. This is caused by the median nerve that goes through the narrow carpal tunnel that could become inflamed because of the pressure on this nerve.
- An underlying medical condition that is usually accompanied by symptoms of that medical condition.
- Some type of pressure application on a nerve like a pinched nerve. The nerve in your fingertip does not function right and causes you feel as if there are pins and needles in the fingertip. A person can have a pinched nerve for many different reasons such as arthritis, injury that cause swelling in your bone canal, carpal tunnel, etc.
Frostbite which is when your fingers are exposed to extreme cold temperatures for a long period of time and your blood vessels start to constrict to help prevent the lost of heat which in turn lowers the blood supply to the exposed fingertips.
Vitamin B6 Supplements
Taking too many vitamin B6 supplements and causing toxicity in your body. The overdose can cause damage to your sensory nerves.
Having diabetic neuropathy because of the inability to keep your blood sugar under control, which can affect your peripheral nerves. When your blood sugar is not controlled for a long period of time it can prevent having adequate blood flow to the nerves of your body.
Having Raynaud’s disease which is a rare disease and causes the blood vessels in your fingers to become narrow due to spasms and restricts the proper flow of blood to your fingertips.
Having Buerger’s disease of which the exact cause if not known. It is thought that trigger factor of this disease is smoking. If you have this rare disease your blood vessels begin to continually swell and become blocked with blood clots.
Having peripheral neuropathy which is when your peripheral nerves are not functioning right. There are so many different causes that no one cause can be singled out as to causing the numb fingertips.
There could be other causes such as having a stroke, multiple sclerosis, having a nutritional deficiency, panic attacks, injury, and others.
Numb Fingertips Treatment
If you are not sure what caused the numb fingertips you need to find out before any treatment can be started. In many cases it is advisable to restrict the movement of the hand that has the numb fingertips but this may not always be feasible. You can also apply an ice pack to help increase the blood flow to your fingertips. Other treatments may include:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome – you can take anti-inflammatory medications or have injections of corticosteroid. Your physician may want to splint the affected hand or have you wear a brace. If it continues you may have to have surgery to release the pressure from your median nerve.
- Raynaud’s diseases – there is medication that can help relax your blood vessels in order to increase your blood flow to your fingertips.
- Buerger’s disease – there is no treatment if this is the cause except for stopping smoking.
- Diabetic neuropathy – the treatment is to get your blood sugars under control.
- If there is a nutritional deficiency you will need to make a change in your lifestyle and diet.
- If it is due to frostbite or exposure to cold water or cold weather you need to warm up your fingertips slowly to get the blood flowing properly.
If the numb fingertips cause pain, is consistent, or happens frequently for no apparent reason you should visit your physician to find out the cause and get the proper treatment.