Carpal tunnel syndrome? 3 foolproof tests to find causes of hand numbness - Be My Healer
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3 foolproof ways to find causes for your hand numbness and how to relieve it

hand numbness causes

Is your hand numbness becoming a concern? Is your hand numb all the time? Or does the numbness only happen when you get into certain position or activities?

The first thought people have when they have numbness or tingling in their hands often is, "Am I getting carpal tunnel syndrome?"

Maybe you are. More likely you aren't.

Our nerves exiting the spinal cord through the openings on our cervical spine, traveling between muscles, through ribs, through narrow tunnels and finally reaching our fingertips. They can be impinged, entrapped, tugged on, or rubbed on in many locations enroute. Carpal tunnel is the last stop of the "nerve abuse express", and is unfairly blamed for most hand and finger numbness symptoms.

Most of us experiencing hand numbness typically have more than one cause. If you experience increased hand numbness in more than one of following tests, you might have more than one site of nerve irritation. 

#1: Hand numbness when moving your head

Two ways you can narrow down the causes for hand numbness is through positioning your head in certain directions.

First, sit back and relax your arms and hands

cervical nerve impingement test

Tilt your head back, then bend it towards your numbing hand. Stay in this position for about 20- 30 seconds and return your head back up. If you experience increased numbness either during the head bend or as soon as you straighten your head, you are likely experiencing nerve irritation originated from your neck, or cervical spine.

scalene radiculopathy cause hand numbness

Tilt your head back, then band it away from your numbing hand. Stay in this position for about 20-30 seconds. Return your head back to straight. If you experience increased numbness through this movement at any point, you are likely experiencing nerve entrapment from neck muscles, the scalene muscles to be specific.

If your hand just became more numb with this little test, you can consider improving your posture. You can find safe and effective posture exercises in this post here. Neck stretches will help with posture and muscle stiffness. Skip the stretches that make the numbness worse

Getting a massage done on your neck and shoulders will also help to release tight and spasming muscles, decreasing nerve irritation. 

#2: Hand numbness when lifting your shoulder up

This is the most common cause for hand numbness in my treating experience. 

roos test TOS hand numbness

Raise your hands up over your head, elbows bend and pulled back, as if you are surrendering to arrest. Hold your hands in this way for about 30 seconds.

If one or both hands start to get numb, tingly, or cold, especially in the pinky finger, you are likely experiencing nerve entrapment in the front of your shoulder​. The most common tissues involved in this "crime" are the 1st rib and pec minor muscles. You may hear people refer to this condition as thoracic outlet syndrome, or TOS.

What to do if your hand numbness got worse with raised shoulders? I still highly recommend posture exercises and pectoralis muscles stretches. ​If you have a physically demanding job, you should also consider exercising your upper back and rotator cuff muscle.

The most immediate relief you can find is through visiting a health practitioner such as physical therapist, chiropractor or a massage therapist. They can help your body to release pressure and tension on the nerve tissue, thus experience fast relief. You still have to follow through on the exercises to prevent the numbness from returning, or worsening.

#3 Hand numbness when bending elbow

Another place that your nerves may be irritated is the inner side of your elbow. On the inner side of your elbow, there is a grove that the nerve has to travel through. This narrow passage can become a little too restricting for your nerve's liking, especially if you sleep with your elbow and wrist all curled up.

cubital tunnel compression hand numbness

Use your finger to tap on the inner side of your elbow, slightly up towards your armpit. Does it send a tingling and numbing sensation down your wrist? Does it feel tender and sore?

Do you sleep with your elbow and wrist fully curled up and wake up with severe hand numbness?

Bend your elbow all the way towards you and stay in that position for a few minutes. Do you experience worsening of your hand numbness?

If you can relate to two out of three above situations, you are likely experiencing cubital tunnel syndrome​.  You should try icing your inner elbow to control the irritation at the cubital tunnel. If your numbness is at its worse during sleep, you should consider wearing a elbow brace or night splint to bed to prevent wrist curling during sleep.

What does carpal tunnel syndrome feel like?

The carpal tunnel is located in the palm side of your wrist. These are typical symptoms of carpal tunnel swelling induced hand numbness:

carpal tunnel compression hand numbness
  • ​Numbness and tingling on the thumb half of hand
  • numbness becomes worse with curl up wrist all the way
  • In early stage, numbness may go away by shaking hand and wrist
  • Late stage, atrophy of hand muscles
  • Other body-part movements does not affect numbness in hand

Carpal tunnel syndrome can often be affected by other health issues such as diabetes, pregnancy, arthritis and smoking.

If you suspect carpal tunnel syndrome, you can use ice in the palm side of wrist to control swelling and irritation. Control repetitive hand activities and rest frequently. Wear a night splint for your wrist and get massaged on your forearm and hand. Gua Sha techniques can help open the​ fascia and collagen in the palm of hand.

These are the most common nerve irritation locations that cause finger and hand numbness.

What do you think? What have you found out​? Leave a comment for me below, or feel free to ask me any questions.

Thank you for reading, and I hope you find this post helpful.

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