Numbness entails a loss of sensation in any part of the body. Hands aren't an exception. However, having numb hands when you wake up in the morning isn't a common symptom in healthy individuals. It can involve one hand or both hands.
In some circumstances, numbness may not be the only symptom. It is normally accompanied by other symptoms such as burning sensation, pin and needles, tingling sensation and electric shock-like sensation.
Sometimes, you may feel your hands become weak and uncoordinated.
Should you worry about this strange feeling?
There are several causes of numb hands in the morning. Anything that compromises the blood supply to the nerves of your hands can cause numbness. In some conditions, compression to the nerves of the hands will make you lose sensation in your hands.
Below, are the most common causes of numb hands in the morning:
- this happens following nerve damage. It can be due to infections, side effects of medications, etc. This condition can manifest as tingling/prickling sensations in the affected hand. It is usually associated with increased sensitivity to touch. The hands may become painful and weak.
Carpel Tunnel Syndrome
- this is another condition that can present with tingling sensations. It is one of the causes of numb hands in the morning. This occurs when there is compression of the nerve that pierces the wrist to supply parts of your palm. The nerve called median nerve. This can be caused by underlying comorbidities like hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes, thyroid gland dysfunction and autoimmune diseases.
Carpel tunnel syndrome may occur also during pregnancy and in individuals who have sustained injuries to the wrist or bone fracture.
Injury to the ulnar nerve
- apart from median nerve, the ulnar nerve also plays important role in nerve supply. It goes from the brachial plexus and runs downwards to the arm and the forearm. This nerve is at risk of damage in individuals who involve themselves in sports like baseball, tennis or golf which needs a lot of grasping. When involved in injuries, trauma to the ulnar nerve which passes medially to the elbow joint can happen.
Like in an elbow joint dislocation or when bones forming the elbow joint get fractured. Injury to ulnar nerve also present as numb hands in the morning.
- this is also known to cause numb hands. However, it occurs in patients known to have diabetes. In fact, diabetes has devastating effects on the nerves and vasculatures in different parts of the body. When these nerves are exposed to elevated blood sugars for a longer duration, may undergo deterioration. The blood vessels in diabetic people are also said to undergo changes that reduce their ability to carry oxygen and nutrients to the nerves.
This poses further insult to the nerves. The nerves lose their function causing the loss of sensation. These individuals will present with numbness among many other symptoms.
Vitamin B12 deficiency
- vitamin B12 helps in blood cells and DNA formation. It is one of the nutrients whose deficiency may present as numbness of the hands. It is common in individuals who strictly feed on vegetables. Since they do not eat animal meat which is rich in vitamin B12, such people are prone to its deficiency. Vitamin B12 deficiency is also common in individuals who take an excessive amount of alcohol.
It is also in diseases of the stomach and intestine like atrophic gastritis, celiac disease and Crohn's disease that hinder its absorption to the circulation.
Injury to the brachial plexus
- this is a group of nerves that give branches from the neck, running to the arm, the forearm, wrist, and hands. It is rare for someone to get brachial plexus nerve injury. However, in situations like when there is over outstretching of the upper limbs or accidents like falling on an outstretched hand, injury to the brachial plexus may happen.
Additionally, underlying conditions like inflammation or tumors may cause compression to these nerves, rendering them malfunction. This also will present with the loss of sensations (numbness) of the hands.
If you feel numbness in your hands when you wake up in the morning, that might entail one of the above causes. It's important to see your doctor whenever this happens. You might need a thorough neurological examination or a blood test to check levels of sugar in your blood. In fact, management of this condition will need to be individualized. The management can be as simple as taking vitamin B12 supplements in case of vitamin B12 deficiency or having electrical nerve stimulation treatment
You might want also to perform imaging studies like X-ray to check for any fracture or a Doppler ultrasound for any perfusion problems.