What causes tingling fingers?

Tingling fingers can be a symptom of a wide variety of diseases, disorders or conditions that either restrict blood flow or cause injury to the nerves. Temporary tingling can be due to any activity that causes prolonged pressure on a nerve or nerves, such as fine motor activities (drawing), repetitive motion, and sleeping the wrong way on your arm.

Tingling fingers can also be due to orthopedic conditions that compress a specific nerve. Tingling and numbness of both the pinky finger and the ring finger together can be a sign of entrapment or compression of the ulnar nerve in the arm due to problems with the shoulder, elbow, or wrist joint. Index finger tingling and numbness, along with abnormal sensations in the thumb and long (middle) finger, can be due to problems with the median nerve, such as carpal tunnel syndrome.

In some cases, tingling fingers can be a symptom of a serious or life-threatening condition that should be evaluated as soon as possible in an emergency setting.

Circulatory causes of tingling fingers

Tingling fingers can be caused by lack of blood flow due to such conditions as:

  • Frostbite or extremely cold temperatures

  • Peripheral artery disease (PAD, also called peripheral vascular disease, or PVD, which is a narrowing of arteries due to a buildup of fat and cholesterol on the artery walls, which limits blood flow to the extremities)

  • Raynaud’s disease or phenomenon (Raynaud's disease is a disorder that narrows blood vessels in the fingers and toes and has no known cause. Raynaud's phenomenon is the same disorder but due to an underlying condition; this can be associated with scleroderma in certain cases)

Orthopedic causes of tingling fingers

Tingling fingers may also be caused by moderate to serious orthopedic conditions that can lead to spinal or peripheral nerve damage, including:

  • Broken finger affecting a nerve

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome

  • Cervical spondylosis (degenerative disk disease in the neck)

  • Herniated disk

  • Neck injury

  • Nerve entrapment or compression such as the ulnar nerve in the arm

Neurological causes of tingling fingers

Tingling fingers caused by nerve injury or damage may be due to such conditions as:

  • Alcoholism

  • Diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage due to high blood sugar levels associated with diabetes)

  • Heavy metal poisoning such as lead poisoning

  • Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)

  • Multiple sclerosis (disease that affects the brain and spinal cord)

  • Neuroma in the finger

  • Peripheral neuropathy (disorder of the peripheral nerves)

  • Spinal cord injury or tumor

  • Stroke

  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (a disorder in which the body attacks its own healthy cells and tissues)

  • Transverse myelitis (neurological disorder causing inflammation of the spinal cord)

  • Vitamin B12 deficiency

Questions for diagnosing the cause of tingling fingers

To diagnose your condition, your doctor or licensed health care practitioner will most likely ask you several questions related to the tingling sensation including:

  • Which fingers are tingling?

  • Is the palm or back side of the hand affected?

  • When did the tingling start?

  • How long does the tingling last?

  • Are there any activities that trigger the tingling sensation?

  • Are you experiencing other sensations, such as pain, burning or itchiness?

What are the potential complications of tingling fingers?

Although tingling in the fingers is rarely due to a serious disorder, the various causes of tingling fingers can be associated with potential complications related to permanent nerve damage. It is important to contact your health care provider when you experience any kind of persistent tingling or other unusual sensations or symptoms. Once the underlying cause is diagnosed, it is important to follow the treatment plan outlined by your health care provider to reduce your risk of potential complications related to tingling fingers, such as:

  • Amputation

  • Chronic pain

  • Disability

  • Loss of strength

  • Paralysis

  • Permanent loss of sensation

References:

  1. Numbness and tingling. Medline Plus, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. , http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003206.htm.
  2. Ulnar nerve entrapment. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00069.
INTRODUCTION

What is tingling fingers?

Tingling fingers is an abnormal condition in which you feel a prickling sensation in your fingers. Tingling is also a type of paresthesia. A paresthesia is a burning or prickling sensation often described as pins-and-needles. Paresthesias may or may not be accompanied by pain.

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SYMPTOMS

What other symptoms might occur with tingling fingers?

Tingling fingers may also accompany numbness, pain, and a variety of other symptoms depending on the underlying cause and the affected nerve. Tingling due to a body-wide disease such as diabetes may include numbness in your fingers and toes. Tingling and numbness are often related symptoms of the same condition. Any associated symptoms can help your doctor make a diagnosis.

Sy... Read more about tingling fingerssymptoms

Medical Reviewer: Cynthia Haines, MD Last Annual Review Date: Aug 11, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Brain and Nerves, Diabetic Neuropathy