Hand numbness can happen due to multiple reasons like poor sleeping position, conditions like cervical or diabetes, or certain vitamin deficiencies. Get to know its causes, and ways to cure it.

You must have noticed several times that you wake up with with your hands feeling numb. It can be an unsettling feeling, especially if that happens persistently. Multiple factors can be responsible for numbness in your hands or a “pins and needles” sensation as you wake up from sleep. At times, your sleeping position during the whole night could be a major reason for numbness. However, in other cases, hand numbness could be an indication of issues like nerve damage, nutritional deficiencies, injury, or underlying health conditions.

Whatever the cause, you should always be aware of the reasons for hand numbness, and understand ways to cure it.

What is numbness?

Numbness is a loss of sensation. Sensations are carried by nerves. Our nerves are of two types – sensory and motor. Sensory nerves carry the sensation from the periphery, that means from the skin to the brain. For instance, when you touch something cold, your sensory nerves in the skin signal the brain that the object is cold hence you stay away from it.

In case you suffer from a problem or condition, these sensory nerves get damaged, and you suffer from numbness. Initially, it starts with irritation, but if it continues for long then the nerves get damaged. In the irritation phase, you will feel more of a tingling or prickling sensation which is a warning sign. If this continues, you will start experiencing numbness, explains consultant neurologist Dr Kaustubh Mahajan.

Motor nerves, as the name suggests, are responsible for all voluntary skeletal and somatic movement such as movement of the legs or arms.

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Get to know everything about hand numbness after sleep and ways to cure it. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Causes of hand numbness

Anything that affects the nerves in the form of compression, damage, swelling, or toxicity can cause numbness. Compression is caused due to sleeping in one position for prolonged hours. Damage caused to the nerves is because of any injury. Swelling is a result of nerve toxicity which is mostly due to uncontrolled sugar or alcohol intake which acts as toxins to nerves, especially for people with diabetes, tells the expert.

1. Cervical spondylitis

Cervical spondylitis happens due to age-related decline or damage of the discs and joints in the neck. At times, normal wear and tear on the spine can narrow down the spinal canal. From the spinal canal, the spinal cord and nerve roots travel across to reach the entire body. When these nerve roots get compressed, you may experience hand and finger numbness, tingling, or weakness. Other symptoms of this condition include:

• Muscle spasms in the neck
• Headaches
• Grinding sound while turning your back
• Weakness in the hands or legs

2. Peripheral neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy is a condition happening due to damage caused to the nerves surrounding your brain and neck. Some types of this condition can sometimes lead to occasional hand numbness and tingling, while others can cause permanent nerve damage. Depending on how much the nerves are affected, this condition can also cause:

• Loss of sensation in the fingers or hands
• Inability to perform motor skills
• Sharp pains

3. Deficiency of vitamin B12

To maintain optimal nerve health, your body needs vitamin B12. A deficiency of this vitamin can lead to nerve problems in the hands and wrist, leading to hand numbness and other neurological symptoms like:

• Tiredness
• Weakness
• Issues with co-ordination like walking

hand numbness
You should keep a check on vitamin B12 levels to avoid hand numbness. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

4. Diabetes

When diabetes is not attended to seriously, it can lead to nerve damage throughout the body, a condition also called diabetic neuropathy. People suffering from this often develop nerve damage in the hands and feet, which further leads to numbness, tingling, and pain that aggravates at night. Keeping your blood sugar levels under check with a healthy diet and medications can help avoid diabetes-related nerve damage.

5. Side effects of certain medications

Some medications, such as chemotherapy drugs, heart and blood pressure medicines, and some antibiotics can wreck the nerve cells, leading to hand numbness during sleep. Other accompanying signs include:

• Burning sensation
• Loss of balance
• Weakness

6. Certain sleep positions

Sleeping in certain positions for long is one of the leading causes of hand numbness. Sleeping by keeping your hand or arm tucked under your body or pillow, sleeping with your elbows or wrist bent, or having your arms above your head can lead to nerve compression. This can hamper your blood circulation, leading to hand numbness or prickling sensation.

Try resolving this issue by changing your sleep position. The best position is to sleep by keeping your arms beside your body to avoid issues like hand numbness.

When to worry about hand numbness?

When there is persistent numbness that starts off as a prickling or tingling sensation, it means that the damage has continued, and the nerve has progressed from irritation to numbness.

If you wake up from sleeping in one position for very long, then that could also be a major reason for hand numbness. With slight jerking or shaking your hands for a while, that numbness can go away. But, if that numbness persists for long enough, then you have to seek help from a neurologist, says the expert.

He further adds, “If the numbness is associated with weakness in hands like if things are falling from your hands or your hands have become clumsy or you are unable to even sign properly using your hands, then it is a red flag. In such cases, understand that the nerve damage is serious”.

How to treat hand numbness?

The treatment of hand numbness usually depends on the cause of hand numbness. If it is due to a certain medical condition, then it might not be always preventable. Surgery should always be your last resort only when your numbness symptoms are interfering with your everyday life activities. However, certain lifestyle modifications can help reduce hand numbness while sleeping. Some of the right ways to treat hand numbness include:

• Keep your neck and spine in alignment while asleep
• Avoid those sleep positions that pressurize your hands or wrist
• Always choose to sleep on your side
• Make sure to not lay your arms under your pillow or body
• Wear a wristband that helps stabilize your wrist while you are sleeping
• Practice certain arm or wrist stretches before going to bed
• Follow a certain treatment plan for your health conditions that are causing hand numbness like diabetes and diabetes
• Lower down your dosage of medications that are causing hand numbness
• Stay in touch with healthcare professionals if your symptoms worsen
• Also, take medications that help curb swelling or inflammation to reduce your numbness symptoms

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