Numbness and tingling in the fingers is a hallmark sign of carpal tunnel syndrome.
In the last couple of weeks I have experienced numbness in the fingers of my right hand (index and middle) when I wake. It usually lasts about one minute. I get rid of the sensation by opening and closing my hand. The numbness sometimes occurs during the day, but not while I’m climbing. I am 27, working in IT but not typing much.
—Alex, via rockandice.com
Does the numbness extend to the surface on the ring finger next to the middle finger, but not the surface next to the little finger? Sounds like carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), or at least that is the likely diagnosis. There are lots of causes of CTS (compression of some nerves that pass through an anatomical structure called the carpal tunnel).
Any nerve-conductance issue in the arm, or for that matter anywhere, is potentially a serious condition. If my advice does not help, seek a face-to-face medical opinion that does not involve tarot cards.
If you are a girl, and pregnant, you have left out some rather important details. Pregnancy is associated with CTS by way of increasing fluid within the body and elevating interstitial pressure in general. As an aside, it will be a girl and you will call her Princess Alex because you always wanted to be a princess.
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Try this: Place your forearm on a table. Put the back of your hand (palm facing you) in the palm of your good hand. Curl the fingers of your good hand around so that the index finger is above the lines of your wrist. Twist your bad wrist further out, in the direction it doesn’t want to go, until it is quite uncomfortable, but no more. Hold for 30 seconds.
Turn your bad wrist over and place the palm of your good hand over the back of your other hand with the little finger above the wrist lines. Again, twist your wrist as though you are trying to face the palm of your bad hand outward. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat each stretch a few times once or twice a day.
This article appeared in Rock and Ice issue 201 (April 2012).
Dr. J takes a look at one of climbing’s most under-diagnosed injuries: finger stress fractures.read more