Experiencing pain or numbness in the hands can be a nerve-racking experience. While there are a variety of issues that may cause one to feel like they are losing strength or grip in their hands, many might not realize this sensation could be correlated to the spine and central nervous system. Pain or numbness in the hands can be a result of poor posture. As many Americans continue to work from home, a poorly-designed work station with less-than-ideal ergonomics, can put too much pressure on the spine, resulting in a pinched nerve, nerve entrapment, or even a herniated disc. Therefore, it’s important to understand the ways in which spinal issues may result in hand weakness or pain, and how to prevent them from occurring.
Most people experience radiculopathy, commonly known as a pinched nerve, at some point in life. As a nerve enters or exits the spine it may be ‘pinched’ and squeezed by swelling around the spine or by pressure from the bone or joints. A pinched nerve may be caused by or made worse by poor posture. Sitting or standing with an incorrect posture for extended periods puts unnecessary stress on the body, which may damage the spine and muscles, leading to a pinched nerve. A pinched nerve typically results in pain or weakness of the arm or leg. If the nerve is located at the level of the cervical spine, it may also cause hand weakness because the cervical spine controls our hands.
A herniated disc in the upper part of the spine can produce pain and/or weakness of the muscles of the hand. If the ruptured disc is not pressing on a nerve there may be mild or even no symptoms at all, however, if the disc is pressing on a nerve, it can result in feelings of weakness or numbness in the hands. In some cases, a herniated disc can lead to spinal cord compression. Spinal cord compression is caused by any condition that puts pressure on your spinal cord. Symptoms of spinal cord compression can develop quickly or slowly, depending on the cause. Injuries may cause immediate symptoms, while poor posture may cause a more gradual development. For more on how poor posture relates to back pain, read our earlier blog Posture and Back Pain.
Ulnar Nerve Entrapment of Elbow
Ulnar nerve entrapment of the elbow, also known as cubital tunnel syndrome, begins at the spinal cord in the neck and runs down the arm into the hand. This very long nerve can become compressed, or entrapped. Entrapment often happens in the cubital tunnel, which is the narrow passage at the inside of the elbow. Leaning on the elbow for long periods of time can put pressure on the ulnar nerve inside the cubital tunnel. Symptoms include numbness and tingling of the hand and fingers, sometimes leading to weakness and even muscle wasting in the hand.
As previously mentioned, proper posture is critical. You may need to change how you’re sitting or standing to relieve pain from a pinched nerve. For more information on an ergonomic workstation, read our earlier blog Working from Home Ergonomics. A standing workstation promotes mobility and standing, all three of which can help prevent and treat a pinched nerve. It’s also important to rest and avoid activity that exacerbates the pain. While gentle stretching can help relieve spinal pressure, too deep of a stretch can make the pain worse. At Divine Spine Yorba Linda, our spine specialists can help you treat and prevent back pain. For more tips or if you experience a loss of strength or grip in your hands, contact Divine Spine Yorba Linda today. Our chiropractic office is open and operating safely during the COVID-19 pandemic. We offer posture correction, as well as relief from numbness, tingling, pain, and weakness in your hands.