"The tips of my fingers are constantly tingling and numb. Should I be worried?," a frequent reader writes. The simple answer is "Yes" and "No." Symptoms of finger numbness should not be ignored because it can be a sign of a serious untreated medical condition, and lead to permanent loss of sensation in fingers, chronic pain, and amputation; to name a few complications. However, in most cases, finger numbness is treatable and can be corrected before it gets serious.
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The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) notes that a person with Diabetes may develop nerve damage throughout the body, and some individuals will experience symptoms such as pain, tingling and numbness in their upper and lower limbs. Similarly, as anyone with Chronic Kidney Disease can tell you, nerve pain can be quite common for them as well. While approximately 60% to 70% of people with diabetes suffer from some type of Neuropathy (nerve damage), these numbers can be as high as 70% to 90% in patients with Chronic Kidney Disease. Symptoms of Neuropathy include nausea and vomiting, diarrhea or constipation, dizziness upon standing, and a feeling of general weakness. If this describes you then talk to your Physician as soon as possible so that you can take corrective action.
On the other hand, you may not experience any of the symptoms described above, but still you are losing the feeling in your fingertips. If this is the case, it may be that your potassium levels are out of balance. Due to diet restrictions, Chronic Kidney Disease patients (particularly those on Dialysis) are at risk of having low potassium levels (Hypokalemia) which may cause loss of sensation in your limbs. Diuretics or laxatives can also greatly deplete potassium levels. Likewise, high potassium (Hyperkalemia) or Anemia may cause the previously outlined symptoms in those with Kidney Disease and/or Diabetes. Again, the best thing for you to do is discuss the matter with your Physician because Hypokalemia, Hyperkalemia, and Anemia are all directly connected to serious heart events (heart failure, heart attack and stroke).
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Now if you have seen your Lab Result numbers and they are all in the appropriate range, and your blood sugar is not an issue, you may be suffering Carpal Tunnel. That is numbness, tingling, weakness, and other problems in your hand because of pressure on the median nerve in your wrist. There can be many causes for the disorder from diabetes and obesity, to poor typing habits. But the end result is about the same: there is pressure or compression on the median nerve which leads to numbness in the hand. In severe cases you will need surgery. By-and-large, however, there are safe finger, hand, and forearm exercises that you can discuss with your Healthcare Team to relive pain from Carpal Tunnel.
Go ahead and grab some paper to write down these three possible problems (nerve damage, potassium, and Carpal Tunnel) which may be causing your finger numbness. Take this to your next Doctor's appointment to share your concerns with your Physician. If you found this article useful, go to your Facebook Page right now and "Like" the KidneyBuzz Fan Page so you do not miss ANY of the breaking news and information that we publish every day!
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Larkin, Scott. "How to Interpret Numbness in the Tips of the Fingers." EHow. Demand Media
"Tingling Fingers - Persistent." Http://www.healthgrades.com/. Health Grades, Inc.
"Low Potassium and Numbness." LIVESTRONG.COM. LIVESTRONG.COM.
"Loss of Fingertip Sensation Can Indicate Progression of Type 2 Diabetes." Http://www.diabetesincontrol.com/. Diabetes In Control.