Numb Hand

The times they are a-changin’.

This post seems to be older than 12 years—a long time on the internet. It might be outdated.

This post is for those of you who in the medical field, know someone in the medical field, or enjoy the medical field (even if you aren’t in it).

Starting last Friday (about 6 days now), the back of my left hand has been numb. The feeling is markedly different than if I had hit my funny bone. I would not describe the feeling as a tingling or pin pricking. It is similar in feeling to when the dermis is numbed with Emla Cream. There is little or no pain associated with it and there was no history to indicate why this might happen. The only other symptom is an on-again/off-again pain in my elbow.

I had a similar experience with the same hand over the summer, so this is the second time this has happened. In my previous experience, it resolved it self in a few days.

Taking ibuprofen has not had any discernable effect.

The area highlighted within the red region are where I notice the numbness. The area highlighted within the yellow region is where it feels the most numb.

Source: Henry Gray (1825–1861). Anatomy of the Human Body. 1918. The mucous sheaths of the tendons on the back of the wrist.
Click image to embiggen.

I’ve been to the health center to see a doctor. She has no idea what it could be and recommend that I go see a neurologist. I was somehow able to setup an appointment to see a neurologist tomorrow, so that’s what I’ll be doing in the morning.


27 thoughts on “Numb Hand”

  1. Sounds like pinched nerves to me. (You should listen to me because I have extensive neurological training and experience. :-P) I get numbness in my hands all the time but it goes away within a few hours. Visiting the doctor is probably a good idea.

  2. My money (if I had any) would be on carpal tunnel, but more information is needed. Does anything make it better or worse? Does it seem to be worse during certain times of day? Does the numbness wax and wane, or is it constant? How long ago did you begin to notice the tingling? Do you remember what you were doing when you noticed it? Has the tingling spread since you first noticed it? When you say “little to no pain”, how would you rank the pain you do feel, on a scale of 0-10 where 0 is no pain at all and 10 is the worst pain imaginable? Do you have any symptoms in the opposite hand? Any dizziness? Headache? Nausea? Vomiting? How’s your eyesight? Hearing? Any family history of heart disease? This is fun (for me, at least)! Oh, but seriously, go to a real provider to get it checked out.

  3. Check your blood pressure in both arms! That will tell you if it’s a circulatory issue or not. Well, if you keeled over, that would be a definite clue, too. But that would have happened already. So it’s nervous. Do you have allergies? Are you taking any meds? Ok, I’m going to stop.

  4. @Audrey:

    That was my first guess too. However, the doctor at the health center doesn’t think it’s a pinched nerve because the numbness doesn’t radiate down my arm, it’s just a localized area on my hand.

  5. @Amelie:

    Nothing I’ve tried seems to affect it. It’s a pretty constant feeling and it doesn’t seem change appreciably. I notice the numbness (I would not describe it as a tingling) on Friday, but I don’t remember what I was doing. I was exercising that morning, but I don’t think it’s related.The numbness hasn’t spread. I’d rate the pain at a 2 or 3. No symptoms on the right hand whatsoever. No dizziness, no headache, no nausea, no vomiting, eyesight and hearing is fine. No family history of heart disease. No allergies. I am taking meds, but I’ve been on then for a quite a while now.

    P.S. Great to see your still alive and kicking! What are you up to these days?

  6. Pingback: Andrew Ferguson dot NET » Numb Hand: Update

  7. well……..numb hand. i fell asleep at my comptuer a few days ago.. i woke about 2rs later leaning heavily on my right hand.. since the i have had pin n needles down my forearm…worse on the back of my hand.. i can support my weight on my wrist ie do push ups etc…but cant spread my fingers or move my wrist back… i went to local hospital but they seemed to do everything but look at my hand. its been 4 days now…i have a little more feeling and i am able to pick up a coffee cup now…….any suggestions what exercise may help???? kinda scary wen ur fine…..then wake up…and half movement in one hand is gone.

  8. oh yeah……..almost forgot………my wrist was sure bent over a long way and a long time…..while sleeping

  9. I don’t know if you found anything out about what you were experiencing, but I have the exact same thing except on the back of my right hand (The skin only appear to be numb). The only other feeling that I have that I think is connected to it is if I flex my hand forward while stretching I get a very sharp pain in the ligaments where the numbness appears to be. Let me know if the came to any conclusions.

    1. I have exactly the same thing as you Amanda. I have had it now for about
      6 weeks. I went to the doctor yesterday and he just said it would eventually go
      away, so I am hoping it will.

  10. I have almost the same sensation on the back of my left hand. I too, had a similar experience about a year ago. I remember that it felt like I had rubber band around my wrist. This time, I notice the sensation the most when I am washing my hands and run my right hand over the back of my left hand. It doesn’t seem to be going away this time and has been present for a couple of months. I have not seen a doctor about it yet. I’m very interested to know what you find out about your numbness.

  11. I woke up this morning with the same areas of numbness on the back of my right hand. It feels like I slept on it wrong but the numbness isn’t going away like it normally should. I’ll update if it goes away or I get some input from the medical field. This is very strange that there are other people who also have had this same region go numb for no apparent reason.

    1. I just waited and eventually the feeling came back into my hand. It was quite gradual. Just wait it out and it will come back in most cases I think.

  12. The numbness in my left hand seems to be getting better since my posting to this site in January. I hardly ever notice it now. I still don’t know what caused it.

  13. For about 1 week now, I have had the EXACT numbness in the back of my left hand and I’m not exactly sure why it’s happening. I am a massage therapist though, so I’m first to wonder if it’s overuse. I’m wondering if Andrew Ferguson found out anything at the neurologist by now or not… please email me back at if you have. Starting to get concerned about this! Thanks!

    1. Thanks Andrew! This is exactly the same strange numbness I started feeling 2 days ago, when I became ill with a head cold. I’ve never felt anything like this and wondered if it was the signs of a pending stroke. Thank you for sharing about the physical therapy and I will follow up with it and notify you if it resolves after PT.

      happy holidays from NYC

  14. Hi.. This evening my left hand started feeling numb just like you described. Appreciate if you cud share what you doc says is the cause. .. Thanks

    1. Hey Khoo, my doctor said it will resolve itself. So far it hasn’t and I’m learning to accept it. On some days it’s more numb than others. I can tell you this, I noticed it began happening after two key things: 1) I stopped lifting weights regularly, and 2) after a 2 week head cold I went through. I’ll post if I find a solution.

      1. Hi Eddie, funny that you should mention the cold.,I had also just recovered from a bout of flu. I rock climb abt 1x per week but not been regular for a few weeks.

        1. Hey Khoo, my numbness has gone a way. I have been doing light calisthenics for these past 2 weeks but just this past weekend, my numbness is gone! I posted an explanation at the bottom of this blog. 🙂

  15. Woke up with back of right hand numb, as well as numbness in the wrist and
    middle finger. Feeling like it is related to elbow as I fell asleep on it and it hurts a bit…any input…anybody get relief ? Or did it resolve with time ?

    1. Hey Kathleen,

      Six months ago, I had the same problem. It never went away until this past Sunday. This is the only variable that I can see had any impact. On Saturday I pretty much soaked all day in a clean, free flowing river (Delaware River). I was also in it during and after the lightning storm. The next day, the numbness was gone. I can’t explain exactly what it was but this is the only variable that I can tell you helped me. Was it the river? Was it walking on algae covered river stones? Was it walking along the river’s rich sandy shore line? I’m a vegetarian and eat very healthy. No alcohol, no drugs. I’m a pretty happy go lucky person so I can only isolate my numbness going away to something that happened when I was in free flowing Delaware River.

  16. Hi All,
    I woke up 2 days ago with the same numbness on the top of my left hand. I hadn’t been to the gym in some weeks and 3 days ago decided to get back into it. I worked out chest, shoulders, and traps. I felt fine that evening and didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary. However the next morning i woke up with this strange numbness on the top of my left hand. I’m guessing that I may have pulled a ligament or maybe damaged a nerve somehow. I’m going to give it a few more days and then go to the doc if it doesn’t get better. Its a very strange sensation and at first my wife though i was having a stroke. Lets see what happens…

  17. Today I was driving home from the gym and the back of my left hand went numb for about 3 minutes, it came back to life then went numb again for a few minutes. I wonder if it has anything to do with the pre and post workout formulas I take, there full of caffeine.

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