June 2, 2012

Staten Island Chiropractor Dr. Victor Dolan Explains Why Your Thumb Gets Numb

Do you have numbness in your thumb?

Numbness and tingling are usually symptoms of nerve irritation or injury.

The nerves in your hand are very long.  Five nerves begin at the spinal cord in your neck and divide into the three main nerves that provide power and sensation to your hand.

These three nerves are called:

o  Median Nerve
o  Ulnar Nerve
o  Radial Nerve

Your nerves are the pathways that move neural impulses from your brain and spinal cord to your hand.  Your nerve impulses tell your muscles to move, help control circulation and provide sensations to your body.

A nerve injury in your neck can cause symptoms down your arm and all the way to your thumb.

Nerves that travel down your arm pass through and around bones and through tight tunnels and grooves, and through ligamentous arches and other tight passages in your body which can cause friction or compression to your nerves.

When you have a Numb Thumb it could be an indication of a condition such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, or it could be just a temporary discomfort that will improve with rest and proper care.

The best way to relieve Numb Thumb is to identify where the pain is coming from become aware of how you use your thumbs, and then you can modify your habits.

Using Your Phone

If you are a frequent texter determine if the source of your Numb Thumb lies in your texting behavior.  Texting can cause Repetitive Strain Injury in your thumbs when you constantly use your thumbs to press the keys of your phone.  Purchase a touch-screen phone so that you can use your fingertips instead of your thumbs to type messages.

Using Your Laptop

If you use a laptop your built-in touchpad may be irritating your Numb Thumb.  Instead, use an ergonomically-shaped mouse designed to be comfortable to your hand.

Your Bowling Ball

Bowling can contribute to your Numb Thumb discomfort.  Bevel the edge of your bowling ball's thumb hole so the sharp edge doesn't press against the nerves of your thumb.

Using Your Tools

You may develop Numb Thumb if you hold tools such as saws, screwdrivers and wrenches for long periods of time.  Ergonomically-shaped hand tools designed with comfort grips will help relieve your Numb Thumb.

Numb Thumb Symptoms

Numbness and tingling in your thumb, index finger, middle finger and/or part of your ring finger may be evidence that you have a compression or irritation of the Median Nerve which can cause:

o  Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
o  Pronator Teres Syndrome

Numbness and tingling in your ring finger and small finger may be evidence that you have a compression or irritation of the Ulnar Nerve which can cause:

o  Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
o  Guyons Canal Compression

Numbness and tingling over the back of the hand  may be evidence that you have a compression or irritation of the Radial Nerve which can cause:

o  Radial Tunnel Syndrome

Numbness and tingling in the forearm or upper arm may be evidence that you have a compression or irritation of the nerves where they branch at the neck which can cause:

o  Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
o  Double Crush Injury

Note that a nerve that is compromised in one area of your body such as your neck may impair the function of your nerve throughout its entire length so that compressions can occur in other locations of your body along the length of that nerve and this is called a Double Crush Injury.

Exercises for Your Numb Thumb

Exercises can help relieve some of the pain and discomfort of Numb Thumb.

Exercise One:  The Joystick

Move your thumb around in a circle to the right five times, and then to the left five times.  Then flex your thumb up and down as if you are pressing a joystick for a count of ten.

Exercise Two:  The Thumb Stretch

Hold your hand in front of you with your palm facing outward.  With your other hand pull your Numb Thumb down and back.  Hold the stretch for a count of ten.

Repeat these exercises as often as you need to give relief to your Numb Thumb.

Professional Healthcare

If your Numb Thumb symptoms last longer than a day or so you should seek the advice of a healthcare professional.

Let the healthcare practitioner know:

o  how often your pain occurs
o  how long it lasts
o  which activities make your pain worse

Show the healthcare practioner:

o  how you move your arm
o  how your pain responds to touch
o  areas of swelling and tenderness
o  muscular weakness

Certain tests and procedures may be needed:

X-Rays to rule out a fracture or arthritis
Blood Tests to rule out rheumatoid or thyroid abnormalities
Nerve Conduction Velocity (NCV) exams to locate the areas of nerve compression
Electromyograms (EMG) to find indications of nerve damage
MRI or CT Scans to find even more detailed information about your Numb Thumb

With greater knowledge about your Numb Thumb, and the help of your healthcare professional, you should soon be pain-free.