Index Finger Numbness: Causes and Treatments

Numbness is often accompanied by a tingling and prickling sensation in the fingers. Sometimes, it can feel as burning sensation as well. It can lead to a loss of hand strength or even inability to pick up things. Finger numbness ranges from an occasional problem which can be quite annoying to a serious problem which affects your daily life. When it comes to finger numbness treatment, usually conservative treatment is available. How about numbness of the index finger?

What Can Cause Index Finger Numbness?

1. Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a medical condition characterized by swollen and painful joints in the body. The condition is typically symmetrical, meaning that both hands are affected. The joints are swollen, tender, red, warm and painful to touch. Numbness of index finger is also possible.

2. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

The median nerve enters the hand through the tunnel on your wrist. As the tunnel gets narrowed, the nerve gets compressed, leading to a numbness of the index finger as well as the thumb and middle finger. Usually, this finger numbness gets worse at night. In severe cases of carpal tunnel syndrome, muscle weakness of the hand can occur.

3. Cervical Radiculopathy

Cervical radiculopathy occurs as a result of cervical spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease affecting the cervical part of the spine or a cervical herniated disk. This medical condition is commonly known as a pinched nerve. Cervical radiculopathy is characterized by a compression and inflammation of the nerves of your neck, which innervates your hands and fingers as well.

4. Reynaud’s Disease

One of the causes of index finger numbness is Reynaud’s disease. This disease can cause a certain level of numbness in cases of stressful situations or when being exposure to cold. In this condition, the small blood vessels of your hands become narrower, limiting blood circulation.

Reynaud’s disease is more common among women than men. From the five fingers of the hand, the index finger, the middle finger and the ring finger are commonly affected. In general, the thumb is not affected.

5. Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy

Diabetic neuropathy is a long-term complication of diabetes. Due to persistently high levels of glucose in the blood, the blood vessels throughout the human body get damaged. The damage progresses as diabetes progresses.  

Numbness and a tingling sensation of the hands, affecting the index finger as well, are symptoms of diabetic peripheral neuropathy. This long-term complication of diabetes affects the feet too. Other signs and symptoms include a sensation as wearing gloves or feeling extreme cold or hot to your hands and feet.

Less common causes of index finger numbness include:

  • Vitamin B12 deficiency
  • HIV
  • AIDS
  • Syphilis
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Guillain-Barre syndrome
  • Amyloidosis
  • Ganglion cysts
  • Lyme’s disease
  • Leprosy
  • Sjogren’s syndrome
  • Vasculitis
  • Stroke
  • Fractures of the wrist and hand
  • Medications side effects
  • Alcohol abuse, etc.

When to See a Doctor

A tingling and a numbness sensation can sometimes present as a medical emergency. This is especially true in cases of a stroke when immediate medical help is required. When experiencing one or more of the following symptoms, call emergency:

  • Severe headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Sudden weakness
  • Paralysis
  • Difficulties breathing
  • Numbness of your hands and fingers
  • Slurred speech, etc.

You should also see your doctor in any case when finger numbness affects your daily life and prevents you from doing simple daily life activities.

How Is Index Finger Numbness Treated?

Treatment depends on its underlying cause. 

  • In cases of diabetic neuropathy, maintaining normal levels of glucose in the blood is necessary. You should eat a healthy diet as well as monitor your blood sugar levels on a daily basis. Medications are often prescribed which will help keep your blood glucose levels to their normal range. By balancing your blood glucose levels well, you will prevent or postpone the onset of diabetic peripheral neuropathy in the first place.
  • In cases of nerve compression, certain medications, physical therapy, and even surgery can help resolve the problem.
  • In cases of vitamin B12 deficiency, vitamin supplements will compensate any vitamin deficiency.

Some other simple methods which can help you resolve the finger numbness as well as a tingling or burning sensation of your fingers include:

  • Massage your hands and fingers in order to increase blood circulation. You can gently massage them in warm water.
  • Exercise regularly in order to improve the circulation, not just to your hands and fingers but also to your entire body.
  • Keep your hands and fingers elevated, as this way you will promote blood flow and circulation.
  • Cold compresses as well as warm compresses on the fingers can help reduce the burning and numbing sensation of the fingers, including index finger numbness.
  • Yoga, meditation, and other breathing exercises will help you eliminate stress.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages.
  • Protect yourself, including your hands and fingers from extreme weather conditions.