What are the Most Common Causes of Hand Pain and Numbness?

Article Details
  • Written By: Marisa O'Connor
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 14 November 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article
Free Widgets for your Site/Blog
The gonorrhea bacterium is the strongest known organism; it can pull the equivalent of 100,000 times its weight.  more...

December 6 ,  1877 :  Edison demonstrated the first sound recording.  more...

The most common cause of hand pain and numbness is nerve compression. The compression may be acute due to a sitting or sleeping position, or it could be chronic. Chronic pain and numbness can be caused by repetitive stress injuries, a growth in the wrist or hand, or a disease affecting the nerve tissue. Carpel tunnel syndrome, entrapment of the ulnar nerve, and peripheral neuropathy are examples of disorders that cause numbness and pain in the hand.

Many people have experienced a pinched nerve, and when this happens to the hand, it's often described as the hand falling asleep. The nerve compression is often accompanied by vein compression, limiting blood flow, and can usually be corrected by shifting position, causing a pins-and-needles sensation as the feeling is restored to the hand. Unfortunately, not all nerve compression is so easily remedied.

A very common cause of hand pain and numbness is carpal tunnel syndrome. The carpal tunnel is the space in the wrist where the nerves, ligaments, and tendons pass from the arm to the hand. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when tissue in this space becomes inflamed and presses against the median nerve. Nerve tissue is very sensitive, and when it is compressed, it can cause pain and numbness.


The median nerve is what connects the thumb and first three fingers to the central nervous system. This allows the brain to control movement and feel sensations in the hand. The injury to the nerve occurs in the wrist, but the brain recognizes it in the hand. Carpal tunnel syndrome is most often caused by repeated hand and wrist movements, such as typing, but it can also be caused by a wrist injury, like a fracture. Diabetes, arthritis, and even pregnancy can also lead to carpal tunnel syndrome.

A less common cause of hand pain and numbness is entrapment of the ulnar nerve, also located in the wrist. The ulnar nerve controls movement and feeling in the last three fingers of the hand. These symptoms are typically caused by a foreign growth, such as a cyst or aneurism, that compresses the ulnar nerve tissue. The condition is most often caused by repetitive trauma, like from using a jackhammer. Arthritis, diabetes, and alcoholism are linked to an increased likelihood of developing nerve compression.

Peripheral neuropathy is another common cause of pain and numbness. This term describes disorders affecting the peripheral nervous system, which consists of the network of nerves that feed information to the spinal cord and brain, also called the central nervous system. It may be caused by diseased nerves or another illness. Alcoholism, arthritis, and nutritional deficiencies can all cause peripheral neuropathy, but the most common cause is diabetes.

Pain and numbness in the hand may also be an indicator of a serious medical condition. Tingling, numbness, and pain in the left hand and arm are symptoms of a heart attack, although this condition is often also accompanied by other symptoms. Individuals who are experiencing these symptoms should contact a medical professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.


You might also Like


Discuss this Article

Post 3

@fify-- That's difficult to know without seeing a doctor. It could be that you just strained your hand and wrist due to typing. Long-term repetitive movements can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. But if the pain and numbness goes away after several days of rest, it's probably a minor strain.

I recommend putting ice on the area. You can also use a pain-relieving cream. If the doctor diagnosis it as a sprain, you may have to wear a wrist splint for a while. And if you don't have one already, please get a wrist rest for your keyboard. A lot of times, hand pain and numbness occurs because of the unnatural position of the hands and wrist during typing. Using a wrist rest can prevent this issue as it supports the hands.

Post 2

My wrists have been paining terribly for the past few days. I do work on a computer but I had never experienced something like this before. Does this mean that I have carpal tunnel syndrome?

Post 1

I wake up with hand pain and numbness almost daily. I just sleep in the wrong position. I always wake up side ways with my arm under my body. Naturally, the pressure and weight of my body makes my arm and hand go numb. I always make sure to lay down on my back when I go to bed. But it doesn't make a difference, I again wake up side ways and with a numb hand.

Post your comments

Post Anonymously


forgot password?