Why You Keep Waking Up With Pins and Needles in Your Hands

Why You Keep Waking Up With Pins and Needles in Your Hands

That tingling sensation in your hands and fingers when you get out of bed could be caused by your sleeping position — or another condition in your hand or wrist.

Have you ever woken up but feel as if your hand has fallen asleep? Most likely the condition, termed medically as paresthesia, is due to your sleeping position. Lying in bed in a way that compresses the nerves in your arm can temporarily block blood flow to the hand and fingers, causing that feeling of “pins and needles” and numbness in your hands and fingers.

The sensation diminishes once the nerves are no longer squeezed. Changing your sleeping position also helps prevent daily bouts of paresthesia. But if you switch sleeping positions and the numbness in the hands and fingers continues, you may have an underlying condition causing the symptoms. For an exact diagnosis, you’ll need to visit a hand specialist.

What’s Causing Your Pins and Needles

For most, pins and needles in the hands and fingers upon waking is only an occasional annoyance. Persistent, all-day numbness, however, may indicate other medical conditions that require treatment. Here are a few that might be the source of your hand and finger pain:

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Common among office workers who type all day, carpal tunnel syndrome refers to an inflammation of the median nerve that runs down the arm to the wrist and hand. The repetitive motion of typing stresses the median nerve in the narrow carpal tunnel passageway, leading to pain and numbness in the hands and wrist. Symptoms may be worse at night if you bend your wrist while sleeping.

Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy. According to the American Diabetes Association, about half of people with diabetes have nerve damage caused by high amounts of insulin and fats in the bloodstream. The peripheral nervous system bears the brunt of this damage. Your nervous system relays signals between the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. When nerves in the peripheral nervous systems are impaired, you may feel tingling, numbness, and pain in your hands and fingers.

Ganglion Cyst. Non-cancerous, fluid-filled bumps on the tendons of the wrist, hand, or fingers are known as ganglion cysts. These cysts usually don’t cause pain or numbness, but can if the lump irritates a nerve. Treatment methods range from draining fluid from the cyst to surgical removal of a cyst on the finger. Warm compresses pressed on the cyst and pain medications are at-home therapies you can try, as well.

Cervical Spondylosis. The spinal discs in your neck wear down as you age, which narrows the space in your cervical spine. The subsequent reaction is nerve compression that causes pins and needles and numbness in the arms and hands.

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS). Like cervical spondylosis, thoracic outlet syndrome compresses the nerves in the lower neck and upper chest area. Numbness in the forearm, hand, and fingers are characteristic of TOS.

A physical exam, imaging tests (X-ray, MRI), and a nerve function analysis can pinpoint the cause of your hand and finger numbness and tingling. Your doctor will further want to know your health status, any chronic conditions you may have, and medications you take. Treatment depends on the underlying condition. Diabetes-related peripheral neuropathy can be controlled by medication, for example. 

Other conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome are treated initially with physical therapy, hand splints to relieve pressure on the median nerve, and pain reducers. In some instances, surgery may be needed to ease the painful nerve compression caused by carpal tunnel syndrome or ganglion cysts. Such procedures are reserved for times when non-surgical intervention doesn’t alleviate discomfort.

Don’t Live With Hand and Finger Pain

Persistent tingling, numbness, and pain in your hand and fingers could be a sign of an underlying disorder. At the Florida Hand Center, we treat many conditions of the hand and fingers, including carpal tunnel syndrome and ganglion cysts. We’ll do a thorough diagnostic review and recommend therapies to restore the full function of your hands and fingers. Contact us today for an appointment.