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Ask Dr. Sophie :: Medicine & Neurolog...
Dr. Sophie :: Medicine & Neurology
Category: Medical
Satisfied Customers: 2951
Experience:  Neurologist :: Clinical Neurophysiologist :: University of California.
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My hands go numb when lying down. Why?

They are more numb in... Show More
They are more numb in the morning when I wake up. Once I begin moving they are fine. They do not hurt just a sensation of retaining water. But again, they are not swollen. I am a 56 year old female. I do not have diabetes or any other medical condition that I am aware of. I take no medications and am in excellent health. Please advise what I should be looking for.

Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Medical
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Dr. K., Doctor
Satisfied Customers: 2139
Experience: Board Certified primary care doctor.
replied 7 years ago.

Thanks for your question.
Can you tell me what part of your hand is numb? Thumb through pinky? Thumb through ring finger? Ring finger and pinky? Any pins and needles sensation? Any chest pain? Back pain?
How long has this been going on for?

Customer reply replied 7 years ago.

All of my fingers and fingers only. Both hands. Sometimes more in left hand and happening for 6 months or so. I have no chest pain or back pain. The numbness dissipates in minutes as I start moving around.

Dr. Sophie :: Medicine & Neurology, Doctor
Satisfied Customers: 2951
Experience: Neurologist :: Clinical Neurophysiologist :: University of California.
replied 7 years ago.

Does moving your neck in different directions provoke these symptoms at all?

Customer reply replied 7 years ago.

I don't think I have paid attention to this thought. As I move my neck at this time I don't feel anything in my hands. The thought provokes interest because it is only when I lie down that the symptoms occur.

Dr. Sophie :: Medicine & Neurology, Doctor replied 7 years ago.

If you find that different neck positions, perhaps under different circumstances such as resting/napping, lead to these symptoms it would be prudent to evaluate your cervical spine for signs of osteoarhritis that can produce this type of hand numbness on one or both sides.
Having said that, the most likely cause for your nocturnal hand numbness is carpal tunnel syndrome, or CTS, due to median nerve being squeezed at the wrist. Symptoms are often first present at night.
In many patients with CTS the symptoms of numbness (and often tingling) are present in all fingers. Another possibility is that your ulnar is involved as well, although that is less likely.
You should be evaluated by a neurologist and have an EMG (nerve) study, especially if the numbness gets more frequent or last longer.
In the meantime, you can try elevating your arm on the pillow at night. If symptoms persist, you can consider getting a wrist splint for night use.

Customer reply replied 7 years ago.

Carpel Tunnel does not make sense to me because the symptom began at the very same time in both hands. What is the possibility of this happening if its in my wrist? I had an EMG earlier in the year which showed minor nerve damage in my left elbow. Also had all the heart tests at the same time which were all perfect. Do you think there might be a nerve being pinched in my neck that would affect both hands? I would really like to rule out anything serious or life threatening.

Dr. Sophie :: Medicine & Neurology, Doctor replied 7 years ago.

I had patients who presented with CTS symptoms (due to CTS) that started on both sides all at the same time and I had patients which had symptoms on the other side come on years later.
I doubt nocturnal hand numbness on both sides would be at all related to cardiac causes.
It is, however, possible that during the night because of how you sleep, there is pressure on the lower cervical nerve roots in your spine. Once your neck is in the upright position, the numbness subsides. You may try different pillows to see if this simple step will make things better.
It is not life-threatening to have mild wear-and-tear changes in your neck which many people acquire as early as their 20s. I would, however, recommend that you have cervical spine imaging if these symptoms are persistent.