Living in Minnesota I think it is safe to say that everybody has experienced cold and numb hands during the frigid winters. While cold weather can make your hands and fingers numb, there could be another underlying cause for the lack of sensation. Fortunately, there are ways to determine whether the cold is the culprit or if it’s something else.
When it comes to cold weather, our hands become cold and numb because of decreased blood flow. Our bodies must maintain a very precise internal body temperature to survive. A fluctuation of even a few degrees can have terrible consequences.
One way to regulate that temperature is altering how much blood flows to our hands and feet. Blood vessels in our hands and feet are closer to the skin and further away from our heart. Because of this, blood flowing to our extremities cools down. If our body gets too hot, more blood travels to our extremities, if we are too cold, less blood will travel.
This lack of blood flow is what causes the numbness we feel. The numbness will generally be felt in all fingers and in both hands. The numbness will also go away once we are in a warmer environment. Numbness from cold weather is a natural occurrence and will happen to everybody if the temperature is low enough.
The second type of numbness is not a normal occurrence and should not be taken lightly. Whereas numbness from the cold is a vascular (blood flow) problem, a more serious form of numbness can be caused by your nervous system.
Numbness of this nature can occur in any environment and at any time. Usually, it will only present in a couple of fingers and only one hand. However, if fingers on both hands present with this numbness then it is an even more serious condition.
There could be a tingling, stabbing, or burning sensation associated with the numbness or it could be completely numb (true numbness).
How could your nervous system cause something like this to happen? Well, your nervous system controls all sensation in every part of your body. When these nerves become irritated or impinged they will start to send out weak or altered signals. Different nerves control different parts of the body so if the nerves going to your hands are irritated it could cause a weak signal. That weak signal is what causes the numbness.
Typically, the nerves that cause numbness in your hands come from the base of your neck.
Our society has a trend of worsening neck and upper back problems because of how much time we spend at computers or on mobile devices. The hunched-over, looking-down position these activities require put a lot of strain on our neck which in turn causes damage to the nerves over time. Below I will give some advice on how to prevent this problem from happening but having numbness in your hands from a nerve problem can’t be fixed on its own.
Here are some tips on how to prevent the damage which causes numbness in your hands:
- Hold your phone directly in front of you so you aren’t looking down at it.
- When at a computer, make sure the monitor is set high enough that you can look straight ahead and not at a downward angle.
- Get up from your desk and move around at least once every hour making sure to move your head in all directions as well.
I want to emphasize once again that if you are already experiencing these problems, the tips listed above will not make the issue go away. Most likely, these symptoms are caused by a significant problem with the nerves leaving your neck and traveling to your hands.
If you or someone you know can relate to this and want to find out if you have a problem with your nervous system, please contact us at Exuberance Chiropractic & Wellness Center. You can also check this out if you have other questions regarding your spine and nervous system.