A herniated disc numb finger or fingers can be the result of a bulging disc in the cervical spine. In these cases, foraminal stenosis is usually the diagnostic conclusion, when a disc protrusion narrows the space through which the nerve root exits the central spinal canal. When a pinched nerve occurs, it can cause innervation problems for the fingers, potentially creating numbness over time.
This article will center on investigating compressive neuropathies in the neck which lead to numbness in one or more fingers. The role played by herniations will be defined in these case profiles and other potentially causative factors which may also create numbness in the hands will also be identified.
Paresthesia in the fingers is most commonly expressed as subjective numbness. This means that the finger or fingers are perceived to be numb, tingly and weak, but can still feel external stimuli, such as a pin prick. This is by far the most common symptomatic numbness pattern and usually drastically decreases the likelihood of an actual nerve compression syndrome.
True pinched nerves will usually cause the victim to suffer objective or complete numbness, so they will not feel anything, indicating a stronger possibility of a structural compression issue being to blame for the symptomatic expression. In the back and neck pain community, where misdiagnosis is rampant, do not be surprised if your finger numbness is linked mistakenly to a coincidental herniated disc in the neck or upper back.
Cervical herniated discs very commonly seen in both symptomatic and innocent varieties. They often do not cause any pain whatsoever and certainly do not typically enact the types of chronic symptoms usually blamed upon them.
Numbness in the fingers can result from muscular nerve compression issues in the neck and upper back, such as thoracic outlet syndrome. These soft tissue nerve compression syndromes typically involve the structures of the cervical plexus and/or brachial plexus.
Tumors, arthritis, spinal curvature and spondylolisthesis can also enact nerve compression in the cervical spine. Meanwhile, certain disease processes and ischemia can produce identical symptoms, including finger numbness, despite no compression actually occurring.
In a few instances, central canal stenosis may enact numb fingers, as well as a diversity of other symptoms in widespread locations. This can be caused exclusively by a herniated disc in extreme circumstances, but is more often the result of a combination of factors acting in unison, such as disc, bone, developmental and congenital narrowing contributors.
Some patients who endure finger numbness have a connection between the symptom and the type of work or hobbies they enjoy. Many are musicians or typists and some are laborers or precision skilled craftsmen. Regardless of the actual tasks involved, many patients report work-related symptomatic escalation.
Many enlightened doctors and therapists will take this into account, potentially dismissing a coincidental herniation as the source and focusing instead on repetitive motion as the cause. In these instances, other theories of pain will be considered, including tendonitis or carpal tunnel syndrome.
In other scenarios, the psychoemotional links between the activity and the pain can be the actual underlying source of symptoms. Once these are uncovered and banished with knowledge therapy, the patient returns to full function without pain or numbness, even though they still work and still have the herniated disc. This has been documented extensively in the literary contributions of Dr. John E. Sarno and other mindbody care providers.
Of course, some of these finger numbness syndromes may actually be sourced by true nerve compression which may or may not come from the disc itself. In cases where the diagnosis correlates and is confirmed by a neurologist, treatment for a herniated disc compressing a nerve is generally successful.