Can you get neuropathy in your hands?

by Martin Rutherford, D.C.

Dr. Gates: So in today’s question we have, “Can you get neuropathy in your hands?”

The question is yes, but we’re gonna go through some nuances, because we anticipate a lot of you out there are googling your symptoms, you see numbness and tingling in your hands. Neuropathy probably popped up and you are wondering if that’s the cause of your symptoms. It can be, but we want to be really specific in making sure we can kinda guide you down the right path so you have good information here.

So, Dr. Rutherford’s gonna talk about his clinical experience in interviewing patients who present to our clinic with these exact symptoms.

Dr. Rutherford: Yeah, it’s a good question. I do the intakes for all the patients. I evaluate the patients, try to determine what type of a diagnosis there might be there. And also, is this patient gonna be a good patient for our model of care?

So, you’re kinda listening carefully for little nuances. I must say, it’s not that often that somebody comes in and says, “I’ve got numbness and tingling in my fingers or my hands. And I saw you online for peripheral neuropathy and I came in.” But people do, do that.

And in general, you can, as Dr. Gates says, you can get peripheral neuropathy in your hands. But, I’ll usually start digging. Sometimes I’ll find that the patient does indeed have some symptoms in their feet that they are not connecting, believe it or not. Dr. Gates is gonna cover that a little bit farther, that’s a little bit more common.

There are specific entities that can cause peripheral neuropathy in the hands. But for the most part, I find that these folks are coming in with numbness and tingling in their hands that are being caused from another condition that someone has told them is peripheral neuropathy. Or they’re frustrated because they went to the doctor, and the doctor told them that it was peripheral neuropathy. Or the doctor told them it was nothing.

And so the patient did exactly what you’re doing. They started looking online and they started trying to come out with the answer themselves. And peripheral neuropathy simply means abnormal nerve function in the peripheral nerves, meaning hands and feet. And they come to the conclusion they have peripheral neuropathy.

So, for a little bit more specific clarity on that, let’s talk about what actually can cause peripheral neuropathy in the fingers. And then, what happens way more frequently is the other diagnoses that are mistaken for peripheral neuropathy causing numbness and tingling in the fingers.

Dr. Gates: So usually if you have peripheral neuropathy, it’s gonna start in your feet, work its way up to your knees, and then it can start to involve the hands. So if you’re googling this question and that’s the case for you, then that’s a common peripheral neuropathy pattern.

If it just started in your hands, there are a few selective forms of peripheral neuropathy. One is lead exposure, for example, will cause like muscle weakness particularly in the hands. However, most neuropathies start primarily down in the feet.

And when people present to our clinic with what we term “bilateral,” so both hands having numbness and tingling and/or burning, maybe some weakness, frequently the first thing I’m thinking is a bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome. So the nerve that goes through the carpal tunnel, as most of you are aware, can become impinged upon. Usually if it’s both sides, it’s not as much a problem with typing, usually there’s some other metabolic cause, like hypothyroidism is the most common one. Other autoimmune diseases, even diabetes itself can cause that presentation, independent on problems in the feet.

Also, you have to consider, does the person have a problem in their neck? Because frequently, nerves can get impinged upon in the neck due to arthritis or disc bulging, and that can affect all the nerves going into the hands. So those are the most frequent presentations we see, even spinal cord entrapment in the neck can manifest with people having tingling in the hands.

So you really need a full history, you need a full diagnosis, a full work-up, a full examination to really delineate out what is causing the numbness and tingling in your hands. And in our experience, it takes longer than 5 to 10 minutes to do that.

Did you wanna add anything else to this?

Dr. Rutherford: No. No, I think that covers it.

Dr. Gates: So, this is Dr. Martin Rutherford, certified functional medicine practitioner, also a chiropractor. I’m Dr. Randall Gates, board certified chiropractic neurologist, also a chiropractor. We appreciate you watching, and you can go to powerhealthtalk.com. If you have any more questions on peripheral neuropathy, neuropathy mimics, just type in peripheral neuropathy into the search tab, and you’ll see lots of videos with lots of references. Okay, thanks for watching.

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