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It’s a strange sensation; all of a sudden your hand fell asleep! There may be a tingling feeling or a kind of pins-and-needles sensation. Sometimes the feeling is just in one hand, sometimes in both. What’s happening to me?

What’s happening to you may have many causes. In most cases, numbness or that “fell asleep” feeling all by itself doesn’t indicate a more serous problem such as stroke.

 

Possible Causes

There are many possible causes for hand numbness or tingling. They include pressure on nerves of the spine, such as a herniated disk; a neck or low back injury; shingles; poor blood supply to the brain, such as from frostbite; the use of certain medications; or just sitting or standing in the same position for a long time. A history of alcoholism can result in nerve damage to the hands as can a brachial plexus injury, which is a problem with the nerve network that sends signals from the spine to the arms, hands, and shoulders. Hand numbness can also be the result for people who have diabetes.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is also sometimes responsible for the numb hands feeling. The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway located on the palm side of your wrist. Its function is to protect the main nerve in your hand as well as the tendons that protect your fingers. When the nerve gets compressed, numbness and/or pain can result. With proper medical treatment, hand function can usually be restored.

 

Possible Treatment

If the numbness in your hand or hands is accompanied by weakness or paralysis or if you cannot control the movement of your hands, get medical attention immediately. Otherwise, if you have numbness or tingling with no obvious cause and any other unusual symptoms, see your doctor. At your office visit, the doctor will take your medical history and check your nervous system. You will probably be given a blood test and perhaps an imaging test, such as an angiogram, which looks inside blood vessels via x-rays and a special dye. Depending on what the tests show, your doctor may prescribe physical and occupational therapy in addition to stretching exercises, which may lessen or alleviate the loss of feeling in your hands.

At best,┬ánumbness in the hands┬áis more annoyance than a serious medical problem. However, if you have frequent “my hand fell asleep” sensations, see your doctor and pinpoint the cause.

 

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