Why have my fingers gone numb? It may not just be the cold weather

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The temperature has dropped noticeably over the last couple of weeks and Christmas is nearing close, which means it is officially glove season. Nippy fingers are normal in this weather, but numb fingers aren’t always just a symptom of cold weather. Sometimes numb fingers are a sign you have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Express.co.uk chatted to Raj Bhatia, consultant hand and wrist surgeon from Harley Hands Surgery, to find out everything you need to know about numb fingers in the winter and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

With the festive period upon us and the weather turning colder, numb fingers can be a common and temporary occurrence even when wearing gloves.

According to consultant hand and wrist surgeon, Raj Bhatia, this is simply because your body shuts down the small blood vessels called capillaries in your fingers in order to preserve heat and to retain your core temperature.

However, it is important to be aware of other conditions that cause numb fingers such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

The most common condition that causes numb fingers is called Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

Mr Bhatia said: “This condition is caused by the compression of a nerve that runs into the wrist underneath a thick ligament.

“With Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, you may experience numbness and tingling commonly in the thumb, index and middle fingers.”

The NHS lists the following four sensations as the main symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome include:

  • an ache or pain in your fingers, hand or arm
  • numb hands
  • tingling or pins and needles
  • a weak thumb or difficulty gripping

The symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome often start slowly and come and go, they probably won’t come on suddenly.

Mr Bhatia added: “The symptoms can be worse at night causing disturbed sleep.

“In the daytime, certain activities that involve flexing the wrist such as brushing your hair, holding a book, cycling and driving can trigger symptoms.

“You may have difficulty pinching and can drop things as you cannot feel objects you are holding, and the inability to do up buttons is a common complaint.”

It’s really important to recognise Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and not pass it off as numb fingers due to cold weather because early treatment is key with this condition.

Mr Bhatia said: “Left untreated, the symptoms will deteriorate and can even lead to weakness in your thumb caused by loss of muscles in the palm that control your thumb.”

The good news is that this condition can be easily treated in the early stages.

The expert said: “Wrist splints can reduce symptoms at night and steroid injection into the wrist can alleviate symptoms.

“Should the symptoms recur then surgery is successful in over 95 percent of cases.

“The surgery is performed under local anaesthetic and involves cutting the fibrous band over the nerve to reduce the pressure in your wrist and allow the nerve to recover.

“The operation takes no more than 15 minutes to perform and recovery is often rapid.”

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