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Why Are My Fingers Numb?

There are many reasons your fingers can be numb but today we’ll focus on just one. A problem in your spine. When you’re trying to figure out why your fingers are numb your spine probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind but it may just be the problem.

Why Are My Fingers Numb?

A numb feeling anywhere on your body usually indicates a nerve problem. When a nerve is damaged, compressed, or otherwise irritated it can lead to numbness.

why are my fingers numbRadiculopathy

When the irritated nerve is in the spine it can radiate out toward other areas of the body. This is called radiculopathy.

Cervical Radiculopathy

More specifically, when the nerve irritation occurs in the neck area of the spine, it is referred to as cervical radiculopathy. The term cervical is used to refer to the cervical, or uppermost, region of the spine.

» Check out our easy to read series on anatomy of the spine.

How Does Cervical Radiculopathy Cause Finger Numbness?

When we want to move our fingers or hands our brain sends that information to muscles in that area to move. But how do the signals travel from our brain to our hands? Through nerves. These nerves start at the base of the brain and travel down through the body inside the spine. In this way, the spine acts as a kind of “protector” for these sensitive cells.

Nerves exit the spine and travel to different areas of the body. So, nerves that control your leg movements travel all the way down the spine, exiting around your tailbone, and then run down each leg. The nerves that control your shoulders, arms, and hands run down through your neck and then exit the spine at the base of the neck. They then travel to each shoulder and down each arm to your fingertips.

Your spine is made up of bones (vertebrae) stacked on top of each other. Between each bone is a soft “disc” that acts as a shock absorber and allows the spine to bend and twist. It also helps maintain a space between the vertebrae.

When a disc is damaged, the spine is compressed, or a bone spur grows on one of the vertebrae, there’s a chance that nerves within, or exiting, the spinal canal can be irritated. If the irritated nerves travel down the spine, the effect can also be felt anywhere from the neck to the fingers.

Symptoms of Cervical Radiculopathy

Irritation or compression to nerves in the neck region can cause various symptoms, and not all are in the neck. They include:

  • neck pain
  • shoulder or upper back pain
  • arm and elbow pain or tingling
  • pain, tingling, and numbness in the hands or fingers
  • loss of arm or hand strength

For more information, read our article on cervical radiculitis.

How to Get Rid of Finger Numbness

If the numbness in your fingers is due to irritation of the nerves in your neck there can be several potential treatment methods. It’s best to review your condition with a doctor to determine the best course of action. If you live in the Capital or Adirondack Region of New York give us a call. We have offices in Saratoga Springs, Glens Falls, and Plattsburgh.

If you and your doctor develop a treatment plan for your condition it may include some of the following:

  • anti-inflammatory medication
  • prescription pain medication
  • physical therapy
  • exercise
  • behavioral changes (ie: posture, workplace ergonomics)
  • stretches
  • chiropractic treatment
  • injections

Some Other Potential Causes of Numbness in Fingers

We’ve reviewed finger numbness as a result of spine problems but there are other potential causes. Some include carpal tunnel syndrome, diabetes, Raynaud’s disease, arthritis, and more. If you’re experiencing numbness in your fingers it’s best to see a doctor before it gets worse or leads to permanent damage.




*Please Note: Information on this site or any recommended sites should not be used as a diagnosis or a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.
Blue Distinction Center for Spine Surgery