Are you experiencing an abnormal tingling sensation in the tips of your fingers? Read and know all about the causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of Tingling fingers.
What are Tingling fingers?
It is an unusual condition that is characterized by pricking sensations in the fingers of a person. It is often described as a “pins-and-needles” sensation. The condition may or may not be accompanied by painful symptoms.
Tingling fingers Symptoms
Tingling or pricking sensations in the finger are the most primary discomforts experienced by a patient of this condition. In some cases, the sensation may also be accompanied by other discomforts like:
- Tingling in the toes
- Muscular spasms
- Coldness in fingers
- Burning sensation
- Sensitivity to touch
- Pain in fingers, arms, hands or neck
In acute cases, tingling sensations may arise along with other serious symptoms that may indicate the presence of some complicated condition. Such symptoms include:
- Breathing difficulties
- Walking difficulties
- Changes in or loss of vision
- Temporary loss of consciousness
- Short-term mental confusion
- Sudden, acute headaches
- Slurred speech
Tingling fingers Causes
The condition may arise due to a number of varied causes, such as:
These include conditions that result in lack of adequate flow of blood to the fingers, such as:
Exposure to extremely cold temperatures may cause destruction of tissue (frostbite). This is characterized by discomforts like tingling and blistering. In later stages, the condition may develop into gangrene.
Peripheral artery disease (PAD)
Also known as Peripheral Vascular Disease, the condition results in a constriction (narrowing) of the arteries due to an accumulation of cholesterol and fat in the walls of the artery. This reduces flow of blood to the extremities.
It is a rare disease that leads to a narrowing of the blood vessels located in the fingers and toes. In some cases, it can be related with Scleroderma, an autoimmune disorder affecting the connective tissues and blood vessels.
However, keeping the hand for an extended duration above the level of the heart can also prevent adequate flow of blood. This can cause circulatory problems and cause tingling sensations along with other difficulties like numbness and partial paralysis of the raised hand in a matter of minutes. This is usually harmless and resolves within a short time.
The problem can also occur due to orthopedic conditions that range from mild to severe and may result in peripheral or spinal nerve damage. These include:
Carpal tunnel syndrome
It is a painful condition that results from a nerve compression in the carpal tunnel, a passage in the wrist through which the flexor muscles and nerves of the hands go through. Apart from tingling, the condition also leads to weakness and discomfort in the fingers and hands characterized by numbness or burning and tingling sensations.
It is a degenerative disease of the disc in the neck.
Tingling sensations may also arise due to neck injury, compression of a nerve in the arm (such as entrapment of the ulnar nerve), broken finger or herniated disk.
Pins-and-needles in fingers may also be caused due to damage or injury to the nerves present in the fingers, occurring as a result of:
It is a type of nerve damage occurring as a result of high levels of blood sugar associated with diabetes.
It is a glandular disease caused by inadequate production of thyroid hormones from an abnormally underactive thyroid gland.
It is a severe condition marked by sudden unconsciousness occurring due to the occlusion or rupture of a blood vessel resulting in lack of oxygen in the brain.
It is a disease characterized by damage of the peripheral nerves, caused either by disorders affecting the nerves, trauma to the nerves or as side-effects of systemic disorder.
Systemic lupus erythematosus
It is a disease in which the immune system of the human body turns against its own healthy tissues and cells.
This is a neurological condition that leads to a swelling or infection of the spinal cord.
It is a chronic progressive nervous condition that involves loss of myelin sheath in the region surrounding some nerve fibers. It mainly affects the spinal cord and the brain.
Tingling fingers Diagnosis
The diagnosis of this condition can include:
It involves testing the sensitivity of a particular arm. A minor dermatome surgery can disclose the exact nerves that are involved.
Medical imaging studies can also be useful. CT and MRI scans can display soft tissues, such as tumors. X-ray imaging can help reveal a broken arm bone or arthritis in the neck spine. Myelography can display problems like narrowed spinal canal or herniated disc.
EMG as well as nerve conduction studies can display the type of nerve damage. These tests, along with imaging, are important for assessment of the degree of brachial plexus injury.
Blood examination can help in the detection of diabetes and also identify abnormalities in the level of minerals like magnesium, sodium, potassium and calcium. Any abnormalities in the amount of Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, serum levels of sugar, sex hormones and thyroxine should also be analyzed.
Cold simulation test
It can reveal Raynaud’s phenomenon or disease.
Tingling fingers Treatment
The treatment of this condition aims at finding out the underlying disease that is the cause of tingling in fingers. Treatment also depends on curing or alleviating the intensity of individual symptoms produced due to the disease.
If the problem arises due to a pinched nerve, treatment usually involves proving rest to the area. Analgesics (pain-relieving medications) may be used to reduce painful symptoms originating due to nerve compression. Doctors often use corticosteroid injections to reduce inflammation in the spot.
Abnormal tingling occurring due to an underlying Carpal tunnel syndrome may be managed with either open or closed release of the endoscopic nerve. Splints as well as physical therapy can be used as supportive treatment. If wrist splints fail to provide relief, steroid shots can be administered inside the carpel tunnel to reduce localized inflammation. In some cases, a minor local surgery may be performed to make a tiny slit (less than 2 cm) inside the wrist. Following operation, the ceiling of the carpel tunnel is cut through to create more space so that pressure on the median nerve can be relaxed. Although healing is rapid, several months of nerve constriction may take quite a few weeks to resolve completely. Surprisingly, strength and functions of an injured wrist are not impaired in any way.
The treatment options for finger tingling can differ based on the type of the symptoms and underlying cause. Some of the common options include:
- Non-steroidal anti-rheumatic drugs – Antidepressants or analgesic medicines like ibuprofen (an NSAID) can be effective in relieving symptoms like pain and swelling.
- Topical ointments – Ointments like capsaicin can help alleviate burning and tingling sensations on a temporary basis.
- Physical therapy – It can be effective when arteries, muscles, bones or tendons are involved. Physiotherapists can cure patients with special workouts for each form of nerve disorder.
If patients suffer from tingling sensations after an injury, it may be necessary to rest and immobilize the shoulder, neck, wrist, elbow or the entire arm. Rest is also necessary in cases where joint movements lead to nerve irritation, as in Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or Ulnar Nerve Entrapment.
Tingling fingers Complications
The condition rarely arises due to a severe disease. However, the various underlying causes of this disorder can be related with possible complications associated to permanent damage of nerves. This is why patients experiencing persistent tingling sensations or any other associated symptoms should contact their health care provider. When the underlying cause is detected, health care providers can devise the appropriate treatment plan to minimize the risk of possible associated complications. These include:
- Loss of strength
- Chronic pain
- Permanent loss of sensation
Tingling fingers Prevention
Tingling sensations in the fingers and hand can be avoided by following certain general preventive measures, such as:
- Avoiding putting the arm over the back of chair to avoid permanent trauma of brachial plexus
- Avoiding sleeping or lying down with arms on the pillow or with the hand under the head
- Avoiding use of mechanical screwdrivers
- Taking elbows off the desk from time to time, while working on a computer
- Wearing warm gloves during low temperature conditions
If you are occasionally experiencing tingling sensations or numbness in your fingers, immediately consult a professional medical care provider for diagnosis and treatment. Treatment is particularly important if you are experiencing other difficulties like mental confusion, slurred speech or weakness. Persistent tingling sensations in fingers can also be a cause for worry. These could be signs of some more serious problems and it is essential for you to seek early medical attention to make a faster recovery.