You are sitting across from your best friend at your regular Saturday afternoon coffee shop, but while she goes on about the date that she had on Friday night, you drop your hand discreetly below the table to shake the tingles. A few minutes later, you do the same but this time because your hand feels numb from the wrist down. Your friend notices this and asks you about you, and you shrug it off blaming the copious number of legal briefs you had to type up that week.

But later, when you are alone, you think back to that excuse, and you realize your hand has been tingling or going numb for a while now, and that your typing increased only this week. Well, your hands are trying to tell you something!

No, we are not talking about the old adage about money coming in or going out here! Just like a firm or limp handshake can reveal hints about your personality, and your nail beds can tell about your general state of health, your hands can give you plenty of clues regarding the current state of various organs or parts of your body.

A certain weakness in your hands, especially in your fingers, is normal to experience if you have been doing strenuous yoga or exercise, or if you have been lifting heavy weights. These symptoms are also quite common. Thus, many of us tend to brush it off as an annoying feeling. However, recurring episodes of tingling or numbness may be a sign of an internal issue with a different part of your body.

We’ve put together a handy guide of what the tingling or numbness could mean. Have a read and make an appointment with your general physician to discuss your symptoms further. In most cases, most of these symptoms are benign, but wouldn’t you rather rule out any serious causes than just repeatedly shrug off your symptoms?

1. FIVE FOR FIGHTING

If the pads and surfaces of your fingers are tingling, this could be a sign of extreme tiredness or fatigue. This usually comes from strenuous manual work, such as lifting heavy weights. This is because when you lift heavy weights, the nerves at the base of your palm and the apex of your wrist feel the stress more than usual. Upon consultation with your doctor, you may even take prescribed pain medication. However, a good night’s sleep and a visit to a reputed masseuse should fix this.

2. L FOR LEFT, V FOR VITAMINS

If the recurring episodes of tingling are on the fingers of your left hand, this could signal a vitamin deficiency. You may also experience the sensations on your left leg. Your doctor may do blood tests to check for vitamins deficiency, and prescribe an appropriate dose for you. Ask your doctor to recommend a reputed nutritionist who can suggest the right foods that will up your vitamin intake.

3. RIGHT HAND HAS GONE AWOL

Numbness in the tips of your right-hand fingers often indicates loss of or weak blood circulation and can be caused by injuries or be symptomatic of cardiovascular diseases. This is a more serious concern and should be checked immediately. Your healthcare team will suggest exercises such as stretching, walking or low-paced jogging to enhance the performance of your blood vessels.

4. TINGLE ALL THE WAY

If the tingling sensations start from your legs and go all the way up to your arms, you might need to be checked for diabetes. As the world’s fastest growing chronic condition, this is an important concern for adults and children alike. As our diets include more processed foods and lifestyles become more sedentary, an increasing portion of the global population is falling prey to diabetes. It is a treatable and manageable condition, so a change in nutrition and strict exercise regimes should accompany doctor-prescribed medication.

5. WATCH YOUR BACK

Issues with the spine often manifest themselves as trouble in the small finger of the left hand. To avoid stress to the nerves located around your spine, join exercise classes that focus on the strengthening and lengthening of the spine, such as yoga. Spinal concerns are a common issue today, thanks to our sedentary lifestyles and work cultures.

6. NO LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL

This is perhaps the most frequently heard of diagnosis when you experience tingling and numbness in the hands. This is caused when the person performs iterative actions for consistently long periods. Common victims include cashiers, bank clerks, and typists. Numbness due to carpal tunnel syndrome is often felt in the index and middle fingers and the thumbs. Frequent rotating of the wrists to loosen the nerves, and simple stretches can help with pain management.

7. DON’T PUFF AWAY YOUR LIFE

As if the world needed another scare to quit smoking! In the long term, excess levels of nicotine in the system deplete the levels of minerals. This then leads to numbness in fingers, but can also cause numbness in the entire arm. Although this condition, called Buerger’s Disease, affects smokers primarily, watch your symptoms and inform your doctor.

Your hands are constantly at work. They connect you to most things that keep you going. And if your hands are telling you something is not right, you got to take them seriously. Keep a check on those two magicians. And yes, handle them with care!

Sources and References:

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