ZocdocAnswersWhy do I feel numbness on the back of my hand?

Question

Why do I feel numbness on the back of my hand?

Last night while working on the computer, the knuckle above my middle finger became numb. What is strange is that the finger below it, the rest of my knuckles, and the palm area below the knuckle is perfectly fine and I am not experiencing any pain or tingling, the area just became numb. I have waited 24 hours and the numbness still persists. It is not a circulation problem because when I press on the skin, the area becomes pale and then returns to normal skin color indicating blood is flowing to it. Could something be wrong with my radial nerve? How long should I wait before seeing a doctor? Could this be related to a problem with my cervical nerves (specifically, could my C7 nerve be pinched)?

Answer

Paresthesia - or the feeling of numbness in a part of the body - is a common medical complaint. You should see a medical professional for a thorough evaluation and may want to discuss the topics below. Numbness as you describe is most often caused by injury to a nerve. Nerves can be located in the brain itself, in the spinal cord, or traveling throughout the rest of the body (e.g. your arms and legs). It is important to understand where the nerve damage is occurring to decide on the best possible treatment. In your case it is possible damage to the spinal cord could be causing your symptoms. It is also possible that damage to the nerve outside the spinal cord is causing you to lose feeling in the finger. There a number of tests that can be performed to better find the location of your injury. Two major ones include an MRI of the spinal cord and something called an EMG or electromyograph. It may be helpful to discuss these tests with your doctor. Your condition can only be diagnosed by seeing a doctor in person. I would recommend seeing your general doctor or a neurologist for further evaluation. If your symptoms persist, I would see them as soon as possible.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.