Tingling and numbness in the hands can be a nuisance. It can distract you during the day and may even make it hard to perform work that requires either fine motor or strong use of your hands. In some cases, tingling and numbness can get worse if left untreated, so it’s important to identify the cause and decide if treatment is necessary. Here are some of the more common causes of tingling and numbness in your hands.
Diabetes is the most common cause of nerve damage in the body and may account for about 30% of all cases of persistent tingling and numbness in the hands. Diabetic neuropathy occurs because high blood sugar levels can damage the nerves. Often, this condition occurs in people who don’t know they’re diabetic and don’t know that their blood sugar levels are high. Diabetic neuropathy is often the first sign of diabetes. It usually affects the feet first before it begins to affect the hands.
Carpal tunnel occurs when the median nerve becomes trapped in the narrow circle of bones in the wrist that it passes through. Carpal tunnel is often caused by overwork or irritation of the muscles around the wrist, causing them to swell, putting pressure on the sheath that surrounds the nerves. This puts pressure on the nerve itself, partly cutting off the sensation. As the nerve itself becomes irritated, it can swell up, too, leading to worsening tingling and numbness.
Tingling and numbness from the carpal tunnel are felt in the thumb, index finger, and middle finger. Oftentimes carpal tunnel can happen from simply working without taking a break. Overworked hands can then lead to carpal tunnel. If you’re working longer hours now that you work from home, still remember to get up and take a break and stretch your arms and hands. Working extra hours and staring at screens can also cause headaches.