Have you ever been exercising and your hand starts to tingle and go numb? Do you wake up with one or both hands already numb? Do you have difficulty lifting overhead due to numbness in your hands? Do you sit at work and your hands tingle and go numb? These are very common reasons why people come to see us in our clinic.
Numbness and tingling is a big alarm for most people, as it should be. Experiencing numbness and tingling, either in the feet or in the hands is not something that should be ignored and it is recommended that you see a health care professional immediately. While I will discuss some of the possible causes of numbness and tingling, remember that you still need to have it properly diagnosed in order to be able to effectively treat it.
Your posture is most likely the culprit.
Numbness and tingling often has to do with posture-related issues. Is your head too far forward? Are your wrists in the correct position? Is your back too flat or too arched? Do you wear high heels/flip flops? These are many questions that we often ask to begin figuring out a diagnosis. Many of us answer yes to a lot of these questions or do not know the answer, which could set yourself up for a condition that could lead to numbness and/or tingling in your hand(s).
These symptoms are usually indicative of either a nerve issue or a circulatory issue. One of the most common causes we see of numbness and tingling is a herniated disc or a bulging disc in your neck, which are most often caused by poor posture. How we hold our phone, how we sit at our desks, how we exercise, how we sleep…all of these things contribute to herniating a disc. Many of us sit in a poor posture position for hours a day. Have you ever found yourself looking at the clock and find that it is two or three hours later and you are sitting in the same position? Notice how your arms are, how your neck is positioned. Most likely your shoulders are forward. This forward hunching of your shoulders causes your neck to be positioned in a posture that puts pressure on the discs. The longer you sit in this position, the worse the herniation can and will become.
Talking on the cell phone can be a real pain.
Another posture issues is talking on your cell phone. People do not realize how walking around with your phone to your ear can cause pain and numbness and tingling. Desk phones can cause the same issues as cell phones can; we just use our cell phones more so they are more often blamed. Holding the phone with your hand will cause your shoulders to elevate. If you want to do a quick test, try and push your shoulders down to the floor. Most of you will notice, whether you are on the phone or not, your shoulders will drop down a considerable amount. This is indicative of a problem. Having your shoulders elevated can cause herniated discs or muscle imbalances that can irritate the nerves, leading to numbness and tingling. In an ideal situation when you try to push your shoulders down they will not go down at all, they will be nice and relaxed already. The longer you keep your shoulders elevated the more the likelihood that you will develop numbness and tingling.
Posture issues are very easy to correct; they just take time and persistence. You will not fix your shoulders being elevated in a day. It took weeks, months and even years to get that way so it will take a long time for them to become relaxed where you won't have to think about it. If you set a reminder on your computer or have a companion who sees you often remind you to push your shoulders down, your muscles will become retrained and the likelihood of herniating a disc or creating a muscle imbalance will become far less.
The video below shows you a few activities that can be done during the day to help eliminate posture problems and therefore, help minimize the amount of risk to your body. These exercises are not something that should be done all at once, one time a day and then be done with them. Make sure to do them periodically throughout the day, as they are posture exercises and not lifting exercises. Reminding yourself to perform these exercises several times throughout the day will help retrain the muscles and reduce the possibility of numbness and tingling that will occur in your hand(s).
Do not ignore the numbness and tingling in your hands or feet because the majority of the time, it will not go away on its own. Make sure you address the issue with your health care provider. If you leave it untreated, it can lead to the loss of strength and many more severe problems. Understanding the root of the problem and getting a solid treatment plan in place will increase the odds that you will have a full recovery.