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  #1  
Old 09-04-2012, 08:44 AM
not what you'd expect not what you'd expect is offline
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Why does my right hand go numb and what can I do about it?

I'm having problems with my right hand going numb at night. It's very painful and wakes me from sleep. It takes about 20 minutes of being upright before the pain will ease.

Back when I had good insurance, I was tested for Carpo Tunnel, but scored low for that.

What other condition might cause this and what might I do to ease it?

Thank you.
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  #2  
Old 09-04-2012, 09:00 AM
gotpasswords gotpasswords is offline
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If it's not carpal tunnel syndrome, it might be nerve compression at your neck. Broadly speaking, your hand is "driven" by three nerves - radial, median and ulnar. If it's an all-over numbness, the trouble may be with the median nerve. If the numbness is more on the thumb side, that would be the radial and the other side (eg: the little finger) is controlled by the ulnar nerve.

You could try a firmer or thicker pillow with the idea that your head is sinking down too much and is bending your neck too far, especially if you sleep on your side.
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  #3  
Old 09-04-2012, 09:10 AM
tdn tdn is offline
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I've been getting the same thing with my left pinky and sometimes ring finger. Not at night, but all day. I think that it's the way I lie on my couch. After being away for three days, it feels better.

Are you sleeping on your arm funny?
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  #4  
Old 09-04-2012, 09:14 AM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is online now
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Cervical radiculopathy (what gotpasswords said), CRPS, or possibly some type of compartment syndrome. The latter would usually be the result of some kind of trauma, though.
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  #5  
Old 09-04-2012, 09:24 AM
sandra_nz sandra_nz is offline
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I have a habit of sleeping with my fist curled into a ball and pointing down onto my wrist. This can leave me with a tingly hand when I wake, is it possible you're doing something similar in your sleep?
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  #6  
Old 09-04-2012, 09:28 AM
CairoCarol CairoCarol is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tdn View Post

Are you sleeping on your arm funny?
I had symptoms similar to the OP and that was the reason - I dunno why, but my right arm naturally gravitates to an unrealistic position behind my head while I sleep. For years I'd wake up with a numb arm, lift it and move it to a better position with my other arm, and think "this can't be good, my whole arm is numb...someday I'm gonna have a problem because of this weird sleep position."

I did eventually get frozen shoulder, so I was right. The good thing about frozen shoulder is that I was physically incapable of putting my arm in the harmful position, which helped train me out of it. (Now that I'm all better, I still gravitate to the odd position, but not as often.)

Apologies if this has no relevance to the OP.
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  #7  
Old 09-04-2012, 03:10 PM
control-z control-z is offline
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How about some yoga or stretching exercises, get the muscles stretched and blood flowing? I think a lot of us don't use our bodies enough with our office jobs and easy chairs at home.
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  #8  
Old 09-04-2012, 07:00 PM
Digital is the new Analog Digital is the new Analog is online now
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I sleep in different positions on my bed than I do when napping on my sofa, just because of the way the cushioning works. Do you have anything like that, so you can do an experiment and see if your symptom goes away when you force a change?

-D/a
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  #9  
Old 09-04-2012, 07:22 PM
not what you'd expect not what you'd expect is offline
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Oh for crying out loud, of course it's carpal. I plead extreme fatigue and lack of sleep. Sheesh.

Overuse of my arm/hand is what has triggered it in the past. I'm thinking this may be because of my new job description, which is much more physical, but there isn't much I can do about that.

Are there any treatments for this condition? I may be forced to try to sleep sitting up.

Thanks gotpasswords. I have tried the pillow from the sofa, but it was no help. I do sleep on my side though, so maybe I'm sleeping on my arm too much.

edited to add: D/A, it happens on my sofa too. It seems to be any position that isn't upright.

Last edited by not what you'd expect; 09-04-2012 at 07:24 PM..
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  #10  
Old 09-04-2012, 07:50 PM
Crafter_Man Crafter_Man is offline
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Are you sure it's carpal? Does it get worse when you position your head in certain ways? In other words, do some neck exercises (touch chin to left shoulder, touch chin to right shoulder, look straight up, look straight up and try to touch your ear to your shoulder, etc.) and see if any of the movements make it worse.
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  #11  
Old 09-04-2012, 07:52 PM
Crafter_Man Crafter_Man is offline
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I also had this happen to me. In my case it was a pinched nerve in the neck.

I tried neck exercises, but they didn't do much good. So I hit the gym and started lift weights, with emphasis on upper body muscles. This included lots of military presses.

At first the numbness got worse. But I kept lifting anyway. And then it went away. I believe my weight-lifting regime is what fixed the problem.
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  #12  
Old 09-04-2012, 08:40 PM
not what you'd expect not what you'd expect is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crafter_Man View Post
Are you sure it's carpal? Does it get worse when you position your head in certain ways? In other words, do some neck exercises (touch chin to left shoulder, touch chin to right shoulder, look straight up, look straight up and try to touch your ear to your shoulder, etc.) and see if any of the movements make it worse.

No, I don't think it's carpal tunnel Crafter Man. I was referring to my brain fade in my first post with that comment.

Thanks for the suggestions.
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  #13  
Old 09-04-2012, 08:58 PM
Askance Askance is offline
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You almost certainly have a problem in your neck or shoulder area. Thoracic outlet syndrome is one possibility; my partner has rotator cuff issues and her arms used to both go numb at night. She's since had surgery on one shoulder to relieve that, which apart from cleaning up the torn tendons etc also enlarged the hole the nerve goes through and that shoulder is fine in that respect now. She's probably going to have to have the other one done shortly.
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  #14  
Old 09-05-2012, 01:32 AM
Becky2844 Becky2844 is offline
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Originally Posted by tdn View Post
I've been getting the same thing with my left pinky and sometimes ring finger. Not at night, but all day. I think that it's the way I lie on my couch. After being away for three days, it feels better.

Are you sleeping on your arm funny?
tdn, you might want to get that looked at. I had the same thing for a few months and then Bam! seemed like overnight my pinkie and ring finger had curled down toward my palm and I now have very little strength in my thumb and index finger. It's a pinched nerve (damage to the ulnar nerve) and the doctor said it will take many months to resolve itself because I let it go so long. He told me a couple things I could do to not aggrevate it, like don't prop/lay my arm on the desk. (Now I lay my forearm across a folded handtowel at the edge or rest it in my lap.) My left hand is pretty useless for now (I can't even cut meat.) The only other recourse is surgery.

not what you'd expect, because I learned you don't mess around with nerve trauma and try to tough it out, I'd say see a doctor before it gets worse.
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  #15  
Old 09-05-2012, 12:32 PM
phreesh phreesh is offline
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I also suffered from numbness in my hands from an odd sleeping position, so that may be your problem.

If it's work-related, a stretching and rest regime for the affected area may help.

I'd see a physiotherapist for professional advice.
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  #16  
Old 09-05-2012, 12:37 PM
HoneyBadgerDC HoneyBadgerDC is offline
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Neck compression. Neck surgery corrected this in my left hand and arm but r/s is not bad enough to warrant surgery et. Seems to be aggravated when I spend too much time on computer then when I lay down it acts up.
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  #17  
Old 09-05-2012, 04:24 PM
rhubarbarin rhubarbarin is offline
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Impingement of nerves and/or peripheral neuropathy. I have both (impingement which leads to tendonitis in my shoulders, neuropathy in my feet). In both cases it comes and goes, there are various triggers; thankfully mine is not usually very painful.

Definitely worth consulting doctors if possible.
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  #18  
Old 09-05-2012, 04:48 PM
Kevbo Kevbo is offline
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Try having your other hand take care of itself, lose a little weight, and maybe put on some makeup once in a while.
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  #19  
Old 09-05-2012, 05:14 PM
snowthx snowthx is offline
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Originally Posted by not what you'd expect View Post
I'm having problems with my right hand going numb at night. It's very painful and wakes me from sleep. It takes about 20 minutes of being upright before the pain will ease.
I know it may be hard, but you should try to stop what you are doing, lest you suffer blindness, or a hairy palm.

Sorry, I could not resist any longer.

In all seriousness, I had a pinched nerve in my shoulder area, probably one of the nerves gotpasswords suggested. I complained to my doctor, and he sent me to a physical therapist. Several ultrasound sessions later (yes the same ultrasound that is used on pregnant ladies), and the muscle that was pinching the nerve relaxed, and the numbness in my fingers subsided. Mine was not occupational, but recreational - my cycling neck position evidently strained muscles in my upper back. I have since changed my riding posture and have not had the problem since.

I concur with the others - go see a doctor to validate what is causing it, and see what can be done. A friend wears wrist braces (the in-line skating variety) at night to prevent the curling of the wrist and associated pain, if that is the problem.

Good luck!
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  #20  
Old 09-06-2012, 06:34 AM
not what you'd expect not what you'd expect is offline
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I'm not fat!

But my health insurance is inadequate and I work 7 days a week, so I was kinda hoping for some home remedies.
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  #21  
Old 09-06-2012, 06:56 AM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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I must be a terrible person because I was certain this thread would already be full of certain... advice about the use of alternate hands.

Hope you get better, NWYE. It's really unlikely you can get a home remedy for something that sounds like a complex circulatory problem.
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  #22  
Old 09-06-2012, 03:59 PM
ShallowEnd ShallowEnd is offline
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Mine was caused by work, but I never felt it there. My back muscles were getting too strong, and my chest muscles were getting weaker and 3 drs thought it was carpal. But, I tested low for carpal, so confusion ensued.

I went to a PT and in the general checking over, he found my heart rate was going down with my arm in a certain position. The PT showed me exercises, I did them at home on my own time and am now symptom free.

You may get no or very little free time, but many PT/Dr. offices have at least one day a week with different hours, you really should go see someone before you decide what it is.

During this, I read a lot about sleep positions, but have no clue how you make yourself sleep differently.

Here's another Doper with similar http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/...d.php?t=662882 Iggy's post, sorry.

Last edited by ShallowEnd; 09-06-2012 at 04:00 PM.. Reason: bad linkage
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  #23  
Old 09-06-2012, 04:30 PM
The Great Sun Jester The Great Sun Jester is offline
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Originally Posted by not what you'd expect View Post
I'm not fat!
I think Kevbo was alluding to how to reignite right hand's passion for left hand. Sort of a surreal humorous allusion to the long-term effects of spouses that get too comfortable with one another. If that's not what he meant, then I should probably look into lithium because I thought it was kinda clever.


Oh...and CTS or radiculopathy caused by degenerative cervical stenosis. Maybe thoracic outlet syndrome, but probably not.
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  #24  
Old 09-06-2012, 05:55 PM
HoneyBadgerDC HoneyBadgerDC is offline
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You can take advantage of that numb right hand, masturbate while it is numb and it will feel like someone else is doing it.
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  #25  
Old 09-07-2012, 05:25 AM
not what you'd expect not what you'd expect is offline
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You guys! :shakes left fist at you cause the right one hurts:

Thanks John Mace, I guess I'm going to have to break down and get to a doctor.
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  #26  
Old 09-07-2012, 02:44 PM
cynyc cynyc is offline
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I'm here to cure you.

Know any in-line skater or have those wrist guards in the house? Sleep in it. Or get one at the pharm if you must. They hold your hand up toward the wrist.

Much of a beer drinker? Start loading up on those vitamins they wanted to put into ale in the UK. B6-B12-Folic Acid? It's 2 out of 3 of those. Look it up.


Disclaimer: I am not a doctor etc blah blah.
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  #27  
Old 09-07-2012, 03:38 PM
Mama Zappa Mama Zappa is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snowthx View Post
...
I concur with the others - go see a doctor to validate what is causing it, and see what can be done. A friend wears wrist braces (the in-line skating variety) at night to prevent the curling of the wrist and associated pain, if that is the problem.

Good luck!
Concur on checking with the doctor, but in the interim, get some wrist braces to wear while sleeping. Not necessarily in-line skating type (though that was my go-to when I developed pregnancy-related carpal tunnel - hey, I had 'em already), as those aren't going to be as comfortable - but they do help keep the hand in a neutral position. Something like this, maybe. At the very least, these aren't too expensive and will give you some data for when you do see a doctor.
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  #28  
Old 09-07-2012, 03:46 PM
Lasciel Lasciel is offline
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If you do sleep in a wrist brace, make sure it's not on too tightly when you go to bed - you don't want to add restricted circulation to your problems.
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  #29  
Old 09-08-2012, 12:34 AM
nynurse309 nynurse309 is offline
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HI

Sounds like a pinched nerve.
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