Nighttime tingling of hands may be sign of compression neuropathy

August 15, 2012

Topic: hand doctors

Tingling of the hands or wrist may be a sign of compression neuropathy.

When people lie asleep in the same position for a long time, it is common for their arms or hands to feel as if they were on "pins-and-needles." This is due to compression of the the median and ulnar nerves that run along the limbs. However, if these sensations last longer than they should, they may indicate a need to consult hand doctors.

"If you can relieve the tingling by shaking or rubbing your hands for a few minutes, that's a good sign; it means you don't have permanent nerve damage," wrote Celeste Robb-Nicholson, M.D., editor in chief of Harvard Women's Health Watch.

She added that heavy and repetitive work, as well as diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, may also have an impact.

Chronic nerve problems may be caused by compression neuropathies such as carpal tunnel syndrome or cubital tunnel syndrome, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). In the former, the tissues that surround the median nerve in the wrist swell and cause pressure. The latter occurs in the elbow, and may become more likely among people who sustain fractures or dislocations in the area.

Robb-Nicholson suggested that people who are uncertain of their condition consult a doctor.

Surgery may be needed if conservative treatments, such as splints or medication, don't work, according to the AAOS.

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