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Five Common Causes Of Hand Numbness

Hand Specialist Singapore

There are many different conditions that can cause numbness in your hands. Most hand specialists in Singapore have seen hand numbness in patients as a result of nerve problems and even nutritional deficiencies. While some of these conditions are serious, others are not a cause for concern.


The most common reasons for numbness in hands are peripheral nerve compression in conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome, systemic disease, as well as acute trauma. However, if the condition is serious, a person will tend to experience other symptoms accompanying the numbness. As such, it is advisable to seek professional advice from a hand or wrist specialist in Singapore so that they can provide you with the ideal treatment option. 


Here, we share five common causes of hand numbness. 


Common Causes Of Hand Numbness


1. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome


carpal tunnel syndrome singapore

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a condition that happens when a person does repeated movements with his/her hand and wrist, such as typing or crocheting. The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway running through the centre of your wrist, and in the centre of it is the median nerve. This nerve supplies feeling to your fingers like the thumb, index, middle, and a part of the ring finger. 


Performing repetitive motions squeezes and puts pressure on your median nerve, as such you may experience pain, numbness, and tingling in your affected hand or wrist. While the symptoms may be bearable initially, CTS usually worsens over time. Hence, seeing a hand or wrist specialist for early diagnosis and treatment to avoid exacerbation. If your CTS is not serious, then your hand specialist may recommend you to wear a wrist splint or to cut down on certain activities at least till the inflammation subsides. Only under certain circumstances will the doctor recommend surgery as a treatment option. 


Read more: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome


2. Cubital Tunnel Syndrome


The ulnar nerve is a nerve that runs from your neck to the pinky side of your hand and it’s responsible for certain hand movements and function. As the ulnar nerve is not protected by any bones or muscles, injuries tend to be more common. For instance, when you hit your elbow against something hard, you tend to experience a feeling of shock – this pain that you feel comes from the ulnar nerve. 


When this nerve becomes compressed or overstretched at the inner side of your elbow, this condition is known as cubital tunnel syndrome.


Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

Source: Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute


Cubital tunnel syndrome can result in symptoms such as hand numbness and tingling especially in both the ring and pinky fingers. In some cases, you may also experience pain in your forearm as well as weakness in your hands when your elbow is bent.


The main goal of treatment for cubital tunnel syndrome is to alleviate the pain and numbing sensation. Thus, hands or wrists specialists in Singapore often recommend conservative treatment options to treat the symptoms. Only when muscle weakness or wasting is present, will they recommend surgery as a treatment option. 


3. Guyon’s Canal Syndrome


Also known as ulnar tunnel syndrome, this is a condition that affects the wrist. It happens when the ulnar nerve running through the space referred to as Guyon’s canal is compressed. 


Guyon's canal syndrome

Source: Mobile Physiotherapy Clinic


Though the symptoms of ulnar tunnel syndrome can take some time to develop, they can also get progressively worse over time. As the ulnar nerve is compressed, the symptoms of ulnar tunnel syndrome tend to affect the hand, wrist, and little finger. These can include: 


  • Pain and weakness
  • Numbness and tingling sensation especially in both the little and ring fingers
  • Inability to hold or grasp onto things with the affected hand. 


One of the common causes of ulnar tunnel syndrome is the development of a ganglion. Ganglion cysts are usually benign and it is characterised as a fluid-filled lump forming on the joint of your wrist. Besides ganglion cysts, ulnar tunnel syndrome can also be caused by repetitive trauma or pressure to the hand. 


As most ulnar tunnel syndrome seen by hand specialists in Singapore are caused by ganglions or cysts, surgery is most often the recommended treatment option. However, if your ulnar tunnel syndrome is caused by repetitive trauma, then the hand specialist may prescribe you with pain relievers or massage therapies to provide temporary relief. 


4. Cervical Spondylosis


Cervical spondylosis is a general term referring to age-related wear and tear affecting the spinal discs in your neck. Signs of osteoarthritis tend to develop when these spinal discs dehydrate and shrink, hence it may result in the development of bony projections along the edges of your discs. These bony projections are known as bone spurs. Generally, cervical spondylosis is a very common condition that worsens with age. 


cervical spondylosis

Source: Himalayan Yoga Academy


Most people do not experience any symptoms from cervical spondylosis. Sometimes, cervical spondylosis results in the narrowing of space needed by your spinal cord and nerves to pass through to the rest of your body. Hence, if these spinal cord or nerve roots become pinched, you may experience symptoms such as:


  • Tingling, numbness, and weakness in your hands, legs, or feet
  • Lack of coordination and difficulty walking


It is advisable to seek the medical attention of a doctor or hand specialist in Singapore if you experience sudden onset of numbness or weakness in your hands. While the treatment for cervical spondylosis often depends on the severity of your signs and symptoms, the main goal of it is to relieve pain and help you maintain your usual activities. Some treatment options include oral medications and physical therapy; only when conservative treatment fails, or if your condition worsens, will the doctor recommend surgery.


5. Peripheral Nerve Injury


The peripheral nerves in your body send messages from your brain and spinal cord to help you perform different actions. For instance, if you sense that something is hot to the touch, your peripheral nerves will send a message to your brain and then hand to retract it from the hot object.


Having a nerve injury affects your brain’s ability to communicate with your muscles and organs. As the peripheral nerves are made of fibres called axons and insulated by surrounding tissues, they are fragile and can be easily damaged. 


There are usually three causes of peripheral nerve injury: 


  • Injury from an accident, such as a fall can stretch, compress, crush, or even cut the nerves. 
  • Medical conditions like diabetes and carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Autoimmune diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis


The symptoms of peripheral nerve injuries often range from mild to severe ones that can limit your mobility. It is advisable to see a hand specialist as soon as possible if you experience weakness, tingling, numbness, or even a total loss of feeling in a limb. A nerve injury has a better chance at healing if it is not cut, however if the nerve has been completely severed, it may be difficult to treat, and sometimes your hand specialist will recommend surgery as a treatment option. 


peripheral nerve injury



Seek medical attention as soon as possible if the numbness in your hand does not go away within a few days or if it spreads to other parts of your body. By visiting a hand specialist as soon as possible, you’ll have a higher chance of recovering and resuming your normal routine.


Reach out to our hand specialist, Dr Jacqueline, at Advanced Hand Centre today to find out about the treatment options available for your condition.