Sick and tired of waking with numb hands? Constantly having interrupted sleep? worried what your numb hands mean?
“Shoulder instability will irritate the nerves of the hand, as the nerves travel from the neck under the shoulder blade and in front of the shoulder before entering the arm.”
Waking in the night is one of life’s great frustration. To be woken in the middle of the night is annoying. Tired, days, lack of recovery, tossing whilst your partner happily lays there motionless with their eyes closed! Then having the experience of numb hands and worry on top of it as well!
If this happens occasionally, many will cope fine with it, however, when it happens a couple of times a night, nightly or even a couple of nights a week it quickly starts taking its toll on your overall health.
The big issue question is what’s causing the numbness?
Numbness or pins and needles is always concerning, and we all know that it’s not normal. If you have numbness at night occasionally, many will rationalize it as the way you were sleeping. But what if it happens most nights?
In simple terms, numbness and tingling are abnormal sensations due to altered neurology.
Finding the cause of the abnormal sensations can sometimes be complicated, but for most cases of hand numbness at night, there are key things that most commonly cause it.
Most people with wrist and hand issues immediately jump straight at the thought of carpal tunnel syndrome, which is the case for many with hand symptoms. But carpal tunnel syndrome has some very precise symptoms that don’t just show their head at night.
Interestingly, after being in practice for years and working with hundreds of people with hand issues, changes to the carpal tunnel in the wrist is not necessarily the most common cause of hand numbness I’ve seen in patients.
Surprisingly, the area we see that is the greatest contributor to hand numbness at night is actually the shoulder. The reason for this is that all the nerves and blood vessels that supply the hand pass from the neck across the shoulder before entering the hand.
If the support mechanisms for the shoulder are not functioning correctly when sleeping the nerves and blood vessels can be compressed and irritated causing your hand numbness.
Some of you may already be aware of this phenomenon and have learnt to avoid sleeping on a specific shoulder to reduce the numbness.
This is why it’s so important that numb hands at night is something you should never tolerate. Likewise, surgery for the wrist should always be your last point of call. Ensuring good function of the neck, shoulder, elbow and wrist often resolves most hand issues without the need for invasive therapies!
So, do you want a quick way to find out if your shoulder might be the cause of your hand numbness at night?
If so, I’ve listed a couple quick tests you can do which might help you to identify if your shoulder might be the root of your issues.
- Hand strength – with the help of a friend or partner, Pinch your thumb and little finger together as hard as you can. Have them try and open your fingers and see how much strength you have. Repeat the test laying on your side. Are you weaker?
- Nerve stress test – Bring your elbow up to shoulder level and rotate your wrist palm up. Get your friend to place one hand on your shoulder blade to stabilise the shoulder and with their other hand grasp the wrist and carefully draw the wrist back. Hold in this position for about a minute.
If you find you have problem with either test, then it’s possible you may have a shoulder issue affecting your hands.
If you want some help or advice, feel free to give me a call on (03) 9318 7758 or otherwise just message me, happy to have a chat.