Nerve damage in hand: How to spot the signs

Nerve damage in hand can be temporary or permanent. But when it does happen, your skin feels numb and you might feel muscle weakness. Let's check out the signs of nerve damage in hand.
Nerve damage in hand
Know the signs of nerve damage in your hand. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Natalia Ningthoujam Published: 1 Sep 2023, 10:30 am IST
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Sometimes, our arms and hands suffer from a stabbing pain or numbness. It gets so painful that even making a fist or wringing out a wet towel seem like a difficult task. It may be due to nerve damage in hand. Looking for the underlying cause is very important. Accordingly, the doctor will suggest whether you need physiotherapy or any other treatment. But first, take a look at the signs of nerve damage in hand before you move on to the treatment.

What is nerve damage?

We call it nerve damage, but doctors use the term peripheral neuropathy, which is a condition that occurs when there is damage or dysfunction in the nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord. Nerves have a very important role when it comes to transmitting signals between the brain, spinal cord and the rest of the body, explains Dr Vikas Gupta, Director – Orthopaedics and Head – Hand and Shoulder Surgery, Max Smart Super Speciality Hospital, Saket, Delhi. When there is nerve damage, it can disrupt these signals and lead to a variety of symptoms.

Nerve damage in hands can cause tingling feeling. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

Nerve damage can have various causes, including injury, trauma, infections, autoimmune diseases, metabolic disorders and genetic conditions. Diabetes is a common cause of nerve damage, known as diabetic neuropathy.

In the hands, two most common causes of external injury are external pressure on nerve medically termed as compressive neuropathy, and physical injury from sharp object.

Signs of nerve damage in hand

When it comes to hand, here are some signs of nerve damage, which can be temporary or permanent.

1. Loss of sensation or numbness

A common sign of nerve injury is the loss of sensation or a feeling of numbness in the affected area. A specific spot might be affected or can even extend over a larger region.

2. Tingling

Nerve damage in hand can feel like there is a tingling or “pins and needles” sensation in the affected area. This sensation may come and go.

3. Muscle weakness or paralysis

Nerve injuries can lead to muscle weakness or even complete paralysis, Dr Gupta tells Health Shots. This can make it hard to move or control the muscles in the affected area.

4. Changes in reflexes

Nerve injuries can affect reflexes, causing them to become exaggerated, diminished or completely absent. When a doctor will test reflexes, he or she will tap or strike certain areas on the body and observe the response.

Hand grip
Nerve injuries can affect reflexes. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

5. Burning sensation

Some nerve injuries can cause shooting pain, burning or a sharp, electrical-like sensation in the affected area. This pain may be intermittent or continuous and can range from mild to severe.

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Treatment for nerve damage in hand

Physiotherapy is often suggested to help with nerve injury cases. That’s because it provides pain management techniques, improves range of motion, strengthens muscles, enhances balance and coordination. Physiotherapists use various exercises and techniques to promote nerve regeneration, alleviate pain, restore function and improve overall quality of life. They play a very important role in the rehabilitation process, helping people regain mobility and more.

But there are other treatments also that depend on the underlying cause and the extent of the damage. It may include medications to manage pain and other symptoms, lifestyle modifications and addressing the underlying condition. In old neglected cases, nerve damage may be irreversible. In such cases, the goal of the treatment is to prevent further progression and manage symptoms so that the quality of life doesn’t get affected.

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About the Author

Natalia Ningthoujam has written on various subjects - from music to films and fashion to lifestyle - as a journalist in her career that started in 2010. After getting stories from the crime scene, police headquarters, and conducting interviews with celebrities, she is now writing on health and wellness which has become her focus area. ...Read More

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