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The Doctors Lounge - Neurology Answers

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Back to Neurology Answers List

Forum Name: Neurology Topics

Question: Finger numbness with swelling


hack1459 - Fri Feb 18, 2005 6:23 pm

I am 25 years old and since January 10th have had major swelling, centerally located in my hands. I just assumed that it was an allergic reaction to something that I was being exposed to, however, since the 15th of feb. I have lost feeling in the tips of my middle and ring fingers on both hands. The swelling is still present and in the mornings, I cannot close my hands without pain and tightness. I had prelinimary blood work done, and it came back with me being healthy. My primary physician is aware of the numbness and has taken another sample of my blood for further testing.

What concerns me the most, is the possiblity of permanent loss of feeling. Is there a single cause for this swelling and numbness? Any direction or insite will be most helpful.
Dr. Pradeep Bhandari - Sun Sep 24, 2006 2:12 pm

You may be suffering from a condition called ‘Carpal tunnel syndrome’. It is a painful disorder of the wrist and hand.

The carpal tunnel is a narrow tunnel formed by the bones and other tissues of your wrist. This tunnel normally protects your median nerve. The median nerve gives you feeling in your thumb, and index, middle and ring fingers. But when other tissues in the carpal tunnel, such as ligaments and tendons, get swollen or inflamed, they press against the median nerve. That pressure can make part of your hand hurt or feel numb.

Symptoms include:
Numbness or tingling in hand and fingers. This may be felt most in the thumb, and index and middle fingers.
Pain in wrist, palm or forearm.
More numbness or pain at night than during the day. The pain may be so bad it wakes you up. You may shake or rub your hand to get relief.
More pain as you use your hand or wrist more such as when driving
Trouble gripping objects
Weakness in your thumb
If you're a woman, more pain before the period, in the last few months of pregnancy or in the first few months after delivery. This is because you may retain fluids at these times.
If the carpal tunnel syndrome isn't caused by another medical problem, the treatment may begin by asking you to rest your wrist or change how you use your hand.

Your doctor may also ask you to wear a splint on your wrist. The splint keeps your wrist from moving but lets your hand do most of what it normally does. A splint can help ease the pain of carpal tunnel syndrome, especially at night.

Putting ice on your wrist, massaging the area and doing stretching exercises of the wrist may help too. Tips on easing carpal tunnel syndrome include:

Prop up your arm with pillows when you lie down.
Avoid using your hand too much.
Find a new way to use your hand by using a different tool.
Try to use the other hand more often.
Avoid bending your wrists down for long periods.

Anti-inflammatory medicines such as Ibuprofen or ASA to help ease the discomfort of carpal tunnel syndrome. A shot in your carpal tunnel with a drug such as cortisone may be necessary too. This may help stop the swelling and inflammation and ease the pain. But the relief may not last. If you get carpal tunnel syndrome while you're pregnant, your doctor may not treat it with medicine unless the pain gets very bad. Carpal tunnel syndrome that happens during pregnancy usually goes away with childbirth.

In some cases, surgery is needed to make the symptoms go away. The surgery involves cutting the ligament that may be pressing on your median nerve. You'll usually get back the normal use of your wrist and hand within a few weeks to months after surgery.

Doing the hand, wrist and finger exercises that your doctor asks you to do after surgery is important. This means you can play a big part in how well your surgery turns out.

Carpal tunnel syndrome may be prevented by watching your health and the way you use your hands, you can lower your risk of getting carpal tunnel syndrome. Many products you can buy - such as wrist rests - are supposed to ease symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. Some people may have less pain and numbness after using these products. For others, symptoms may get worse. No one has proved that these products really prevent wrist problems.

I hope the information is useful.

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