Ask a doc: ‘Why are my fingers tingling and what can I do to stop it?’

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Tingling fingers can be uncomfortable and somewhat of a nuisance, especially if this interferes with your daily activities or interrupts your sleep.

Individuals describe tingling as a “pins and needles” sensation, similar to when fingers fall asleep after leaning on an elbow too long, Kerry Levin, M.D., chair of the department of neurology at Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, told Fox News Digital. 

Here’s a deeper dive. 

What are some causes of the condition?

There are many possible causes of tingling fingers. 

In some cases, the condition can stem from an isolated incident. 

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“It can occur with anxiety or leaning on a body part too long,” said Levin, who is also a fellow of the American Academy of Neurology. 

“These symptoms go away by themselves when the trigger goes away.”

Tingling fingers

Tingling fingers can be uncomfortable and somewhat of a nuisance, especially if this interferes with your daily activities or interrupts sleep. (iStock)

Beyond an isolated occurrence, the most common neurological causes are carpal tunnel syndrome, ulnar nerve compression at the elbow, or a pinched nerve in the neck, according to the doctor.

When a nerve is compressed or damaged, it interrupts signals along the nerve from the skin up to the brain. 

Those signals can then register as pain or uncomfortable sensations, according to Levin.

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The most common cause of tingling fingers is usually carpal tunnel, according to Jesus Lizarzaburu, M.D., a family physician at TPMG Grafton Family Medicine in Yorktown, Virginia.

“Doing something repetitive with your wrists and hands can lead to inflammation of the nerve through the carpal tunnel, which is a fixed space in that specific area,” he told Fox News Digital. 

“As the nerve swells, the pressure on the nerve itself increases, which makes the tingling worse.”

Man with tingling fingers

When a nerve is compressed or damaged, it interrupts signals along the nerve from the skin up to the brain. Those signals can then register as pain or uncomfortable sensations. (iStock)

Additional medical reasons can also cause tingling fingers. 

The condition can result from poorly controlled diabetes, which may cause damage to the nerves and lead to a condition called diabetic neuropathy, noted Lizarzaburu. 

This usually affects the feet first and the hands later.

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Another potential cause is deficiency in vitamins B12, B6 or E, which can affect nerve function and cause tingling, the doctor said.

Infection or inflammation in conditions such as Lyme disease, shingles or inflammation of the nerves (neuritis) can also be culprits.

Treatments to alleviate tingling

There are some measures you can take to manage the tingling in your fingers, according to experts.

One is to pay attention to the motions that led to the tingling and try to avoid the triggering event.

Maintaining a healthy weight and staying active can also help, Lizarzaburu said.

Woman at doctor

Once a diagnosis is made, there may be treatment available for the specific cause of the tingling in the fingers. (iStock)

Doctors also recommend staying hydrated by drinking water regularly.

It’s also important to manage existing health conditions. 

“If you do have diabetes, be sure to manage it through diet and proper medication provided by your family physician,” Lizarzaburu recommended.

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For issues like carpal tunnel syndrome, performing stretching exercises, getting physical therapy or wearing wrist splints overnight are good initial treatment options, the doctor said. 

If symptoms persist, surgery may be necessary in some cases.

When should you see a doctor?

Symptoms that are brief and infrequent are usually not worrisome, Levin said. 

wrist pain

Carpal tunnel syndrome is one of the most common neurological causes of tingling fingers. (iStock)

If symptoms are getting worse — or are heightened by coughing, straining or with neck or arm movement — this could signal a neurological problem that needs to be checked, the doctor advised.

Aside from a thorough physical examination, the medical provider may opt to perform MRI imaging or electrical nerve testing. 

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Once a diagnosis is made, there may be treatment available for the specific cause, such as exercises for a pinched nerve in the neck or a wrist splint for carpal tunnel syndrome, Levin noted.

If conservative treatments aren’t effective, surgery may provide relief, he added.

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