Just about everyone knows the feeling of having numb feet or hands, and it’s not usually a big deal. Sometimes, this can happen from sitting or sleeping at the wrong angle, but other times, it is indicative of a deeper problem. If you find yourself frequently waking up with numb hands, you may wonder if this is something to worry about. In this blog, the orthopedic specialists at SPORT explain everything you need to know about waking up with numb hands.
At SPORT Orthopedics + Physical Therapy, we take great pride in our work and our treatment of patients. We understand that experiencing uncomfortable symptoms can be alarming, which is why we’re here to help pinpoint the source of your symptoms. Once we do this, we can start developing a personalized treatment plan that works for you. To schedule an appointment with us, please call our office at 469-200-2832 today.
Why Do People Wake Up With Numb Hands?
As we mentioned before, waking up with numb hands can be a sign of something serious, or it could result from an awkward sleeping position. If the sensation is a rarity, it’s likely nothing to worry about. However, if someone frequently experiences hand numbness or a tingling sensation, it may be time to look deeper.
In most cases, people experience numbness in their hands and extremities because of restricted blood circulation or because of an issue with the nerves. However, other cases arise from underlying health conditions. It can be difficult to distinguish one from the other, but speaking with a qualified orthopedic specialist can help.
First, we recommend that you spend a few minutes trying to wake your hands up by shaking them, massaging them, and flexing your hand muscles. If your numbness begins to subside, then a circulation issue is the likely culprit. However, if you still experience numbness or a tingling sensation, it may be time to seek treatment.
What Does Waking Up With Numb Hands Mean?
Especially when combined with other symptoms, numb hands can be a sign of restricted blood flow, nerve compression, nerve damage, and many other conditions. Let’s say, for example, that you fall asleep on your arm or with your wrist bent at an odd angle. Sleeping positions that restrict blood circulation or that pinch nerves can lead to waking up with numb hands.
This numbness can also result from alcohol abuse. Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol over long periods of time can cause nerve damage. Oftentimes, alcohol abuse combined with poor nutrition in one’s diet can lead to numbness, tingling, or nerve pain in the limbs.
Why Do My Hands Go Numb While Sleeping?
In this section, we outline the various conditions that can lead to waking up with numb hands. Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list. It is simply an outline of the most common causes of numb hands that we see.
Compression of the nerves that lead to the hands is one of the most common causes of numbness. The three major nerves that lead to the hands are the median nerve, radial nerve, and ulnar nerve. When one of these nerves is compressed, it can cause numbness and nerve pain in the affected hand.
Median Nerve Compression
The median nerve runs from the brachial plexus to the nerves in the muscles of the hand. One of the most common forms of median nerve entrapment is actually carpal tunnel syndrome.
Ulnar Nerve Compression
The ulnar nerve runs from the shoulder into the hand. It can become compressed from the way someone bends their elbow, wrist, or even near the collarbone. When ulnar nerve compression occurs at the elbow, this is known as cubital tunnel syndrome.
Radial Nerve Compression
The radial nerve runs from the side of the neck down to the hand. As it travels to the hand, it passes through a collection of muscles called the radial tunnel. When the radial nerve becomes compressed in the radial tunnel, the condition is called radial tunnel syndrome.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome often results from repetitive movements of the hands, trauma to the wrist, or obesity. Its most common symptoms are numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness. Luckily, carpal tunnel is very treatable as long as you begin treatment early enough. Many individuals can avoid surgical treatments by seeing a doctor as early as possible. For severe cases, however, a carpal tunnel release may be necessary.
As we age, the spinal discs in our neck endure regular wear and tear. Over time, this can lead to symptoms of osteoarthritis, bone spurs, and even bulging discs. These conditions can lead to a narrowing of the cervical spine space, which places pressure on the nerves. Pressure on the nerve roots can cause numb hands.
When one suffers from nerve damage in the peripheral nervous system, this is referred to as peripheral neuropathy. Because there are so many peripheral nerves, there are also many different types of peripheral neuropathy. Some of these types can lead to tingling, numb hands.
Diabetes is a chronic disease that can cause high blood sugar in the body. One common consequence of diabetes is nerve damage. In fact, approximately half of all individuals with diabetes mellitus will experience nerve damage or experience carpal tunnel syndrome. Nerve damage that results from diabetes is often called diabetic neuropathy. Common areas in which diabetics experience peripheral nerve damage include the feet, legs, hands, and arms.
A ganglion cyst is a type of lump that can grow along the tendons or joints in the wrists and hands. While they usually do not cause problems, they can compress nerves. When this happens, one can experience numbness and tingling in the hands. They may also interfere with the movement of your joints. Most ganglion cysts go away without treatment, but some require careful removal.
Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy is a condition that occurs in anywhere from 30 to 70% of people who undergo chemotherapy treatments. Certain drugs used in chemotherapy, as well as other medications, can result in peripheral neuropathy.
Even your sleeping posture can contribute to the numbness and tingling in your hands. For example, if someone sleeps in a way that places pressure on the nerves in their arms and hands, this is what causes the numb, tingling sensation. This can usually be alleviated by changing your sleeping posture.
Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS)
This is a group of conditions that can result from blood vessels or nerves in the torso becoming irritated, compressed, or injured. It can cause numbness in the forearm, hands, and fingers.
Certain other health conditions, particularly those affecting the peripheral or central nervous system, can also lead to numbness in the hands. Some of these conditions include the following.
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Lyme disease
- Multiple sclerosis
When Should I Worry About Hand Numbness?
If your numbness subsides after shaking and massaging your hands for a few minutes, you likely have nothing to worry about. If the numbness persists, spreads to other body parts, or if you have other symptoms alongside the numbness, we recommend calling your doctor immediately. Look out for the following symptoms.
- Numbness on both sides of the body
- Numbness begins suddenly
- Difficulty speaking
- Numbness comes and goes regularly
- Severe headaches
- Numbness seems related to certain repetitive tasks
How to Stop Numbness in Hands While Sleeping
If you struggle with carpal tunnel syndrome, peripheral neuropathy, thoracic outlet syndrome, cervical spondylosis, ulnar nerve entrapment, or another condition, we recommend the following tips to alleviate hand numbness while sleeping.
- Be sure to have a supportive mattress and pillow. Supporting your neck and shoulders will help reduce potential pressure points in those areas.
- Wear a wrist brace to keep the area stable while you sleep.
- Try not to sleep on your side with your arm underneath your pillow. This can lead to nerve compression.
- Keep your wrists straight, not flexed or bent, as you sleep. This reduces the chances of nerve compression.
- Try to stretch your hands and wrists before you go to sleep at night.
- Schedule a visit with your doctor to rule out any serious conditions, and to get professional medical advice on how to relieve hand and finger numbness.
Contact SPORT Orthopedics + Physical Therapy Today
If you’ve tried every home remedy to treat your hand numbness and nerve pain, but nothing seems to work, it may be time to speak with an orthopedic specialist. At SPORT Orthopedics + Physical Therapy, our professionals are dedicated to providing only the best orthopedic care in Dallas. Our team will pinpoint the source of your symptoms, develop a treatment plan that targets your issues, and work closely with you throughout the course of your treatment. We offer both surgical and nonsurgical options, as well as physical therapy. To schedule an appointment with us and get to the bottom of your condition, please call our office at 469-200-2832 today.