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.

Businesswoman reacts to pain in her wrists during a busy workdayDiabetes

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

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.

Ulnar Nerve Palsy

Ulnar nerve palsy, also called ulnar nerve entrapment, occurs when the ulnar nerve is being trapped and crushed. This most often occurs at the elbow and tends to be worse when you have your elbow flexed.

This causes tingling and numbness in your ring and pinky fingers. It can also cause tingling or numbness in the palm opposite the thumb.

Poor Circulation

If you don’t have good circulation, your nerves and other tissues aren’t getting the resources they need to function properly. As a result, you will feel numbness and weakness in the hands. This is most often transitory at first, associated with holding your hands above your heart, but it can become a chronic condition.

You would probably notice tingling related to poor circulation in your feet first, but not always. Test to see if tingling changes when you hold your hand up high or when lying down flat.

TMJ

Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) may seem like an unusual cause of tingling and numbness in your fingers, but the explanation is straightforward. When your jaw is imbalanced, the body attempts to restore balance by shifting the neck. The neck shift, in turn, can lead to imbalances in your spine or posture problems. This can cause the spine to pressure nerves as they’re leaving the spinal column or it can lead to thoracic outlet syndrome. After the nerves leave your spine, they bundle together in the brachial plexus, but after that, they have to pass between your collarbone and your first rib. This narrow space can be even more narrow if your collarbone is out of alignment, as can occur as a result of TMJ.

TMJ hand numbness is an uncommon cause of tingling or numbness in the hands, and it should only be suspected if you have other TMJ symptoms like frequent migraines. A lot of employers don’t take migraines seriously but they can be an indicator of a bigger picture going on like TMJ.

Vitamin Deficiencies

Our nerves depend on a steady supply of nutrients, and, unfortunately, many of us don’t get all the nutrients we need for healthy nerve function. Some common vitamin deficiencies that can lead to tingling in the hands include vitamin E, B1, B3 (niacin), B6, and B12 are all vital for nerve function.

Vitamin deficiencies that cause nerve damage are common in alcoholics, so some people want to define a separate category of alcoholic neuropathy.

No Cause

Unfortunately, about 30% of cases of numbness or tingling in the hands can’t be linked to any definitive cause. That doesn’t necessarily mean that there is no cause, but it’s possible that the cause just can’t be isolated or can’t be linked to its symptoms.

Do You Think TMJ Might Be Causing Your Numbness?

If you think that TMJ might be responsible for tingling and numbness in your hands, then TMJ treatment may help. Please call (803) 781-9090 today for an appointment with a Columbia, SC TMJ dentist at Smile Columbia Dentistry.