How to get the right diagnosis for numb fingers?

Numb fingers can have many underlying causes like rheumatoid arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, cervical radiculopathy or other disorders. Often, one may mistaken for the other and the wrong treatment is delivered. So, before starting any treatment schedule for treating numb fingers it is important to diagnose the underlying cause first.

numb fingers

A common misdiagnosis

Some of the common disorders that lead to numbness in fingers are discussed here:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome: Here the median nerve entering the palm through the wrist tunnel is com-promised resulting in numbness in the thumb, middle and index fingers.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome

  • Cervical radiculopathy: If a nerve exiting your neck towards the hand gets irritated at the point of exit due to compression or inflammatory conditions, it may result in numbing the fingers of the hand. Cervical radiculopathy may result from a number of conditions like cervical degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis or cervical herniated disc. The symptoms of this disease are similar to that of the carpal tunnel syndrome affecting the same areas of thumb, middle and index fingers.
  • Cervical radiculopathy

  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA): An autoimmune disorder characterized by painful, swollen joints, RA can actually lead to carpal tunnel syndrome if the tendons in the wrist undergo inflammation.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)

Besides these common causes of finger numbness, a number of other disorders, injuries and traumas may lead to numbness in the fingers. They are:

Causes of finger numbness

Neurological causes: diabetic neuropathy, stroke, alcoholism, lead poisoning, hypothyroidism, peripheral neuropathy, spinal cord injury or tumour, etc.

Circulatory causes: Peripheral artery disease, frostbite, Renaud’s syndrome

Orthopaedic causes: Cervical spondylosis, bone fractures, neck injuries

Other causes: Trauma to the hand, snake bites, beriberi, poisoning, malnutrition, rabies, Guillain-Barre syndrome,etc.

Getting an accurate diagnosis

Once you visit a specialized physician like the Los Angeles pain management doctors, with a complaint of finger numbness, your physician will ask you a few questions to build your case history. The most important questions usually asked are:

  • Which region of your fingers are feeling numb?
  • When did the numbness start?
  • Is the feeling chronic or acute?
  • Are you engaged in any activities that may result in finger numbness?
  • Are there any accompanying symptoms like pain, itchiness or burning?

After noting your medical history, the physician may physically inspect your fingers and other areas for signs and symptoms of disease. To confirm a diagnosis, however, further tests need to be performed. Some of the common tests recommended for numb fingers are:

  • Nerve conduction velocity tests. This study can help confirm or eliminate carpal tunnel syndrome as the underlying cause of numb fingers.
  • Imaging studies like X-rays, MRI and CT scans which may help confirm cervical radiculopathy.
  • Electromyography
  • Nerve Biopsy
  • Blood tests

Since the causes of finger numbness are many, an accurate diagnosis becomes a difficult task. Only specialized doctors like Los Angeles pain management doctors, who are trained to diagnose and treat conditions like finger numbness, will be able to deal with your case quickly and efficiently. Do not ignore finger numbness and visit a doctor as soon as possible to detect the underlying cause.