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A 49-year-old male asked:

Do i have nerve damage because my hand feels numb? im a 45 year old male of average height and weight. a week ago, i fell a sleep with my right hand behind the back of my head. i woke up in the middle of the night and my arm was numb with no feeling. wit

1 doctor answer1 doctor weighed in
Dr. Herbert Krob
Neurology 29 years experience
Nerves : Nerves can get pinched by sleeping in funny positions, and this can result in temporary (and sometimes longer-lasting) numbness and weakness. A google search for the term "saturday night palsy" will reveal a "textbook example" of a not-so-common, but very well-recognized, nerve compression syndrome (in this case, of the radial nerve). Also, one of the contributing factors of carpal tunnel syndrome (pinching of the median nerve) may be hand position during sleep. Other things can also cause numbness of the hands. Determining the cause involves a careful physical examination (which most doctors should be able to perform, but many cannot or do not), and sometimes requires special tests (including electrodiagnostic testing -- see my health guide at the link below) which probably get done more often than necessary. Left undiagnosed and untreated, hand numbness can get worse, can become associated with weakness, and eventually cause inability to use the hands. Indications that a doctor is qualified to diagnose the causes of hand numbness include board certification (such as by the american board of psychiatry and neurology and the american board of electrodiagnostic medicine). It is also a good idea to ensure that the board certified physician is the one who actually performs the examination, rather than a physician extender (pa or other) who is merely supervised by the physician. A thorough examination for hand numbness includes checking the strength of the major movements at each joint in the affected limb (fingers, wrists, elbows, shoulders, in this case), checking sensation in the entire affected limb up to and including the neck, checking reflexes at several points (forearms and both sides of the elbows at least), and checking coordination. This should be in addition to a general examination of the other limbs and major organs. For more information, check: http://patients.Aan.Com/disorders/ http://www.Aanem.Org/education/patient-resources/common-disorders.Aspx.

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Last updated Jul 23, 2018

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