All of us have had the “my leg / hand has fallen asleep” experience. This “sleeping” experience mostly occurs if you cut off blood supply to a particular body part by applying pressure for a long time. That is the reason why you have numbness and tingling in your hand if you sleep on it for long. This numbness and tingling is absolutely normal and goes away within minutes, but if you have a similar experience at random, the reason could be a medical condition. Paresthesia, also known as numbness and tingling of the hands and legs, has multiple causes, but some of this can be controlled with physiotherapy.
There are multiple causes for the tingling sensation and numbness felt in the hands and fingers. The most common cause is carpal tunnel syndrome, a type of nerve compression. Repeated motion in an unnatural position which puts abnormal stress on your hand causes microscopic tears. These tears in ligaments and muscles later swell up and later cause nerve compression. The ulnar nerve which passes through our hand and forearm can get trapped during accidents or falls and cause numbness. There are various other causes like diabetes, alcoholism, poor circulation and more.
Treatment through physiotherapy
Treatment of paresthesia highly depends on the treatment of the underlying cause. If numbness has been primarily caused by a disease, treatment of this disease will ease it out. Due to low blood circulation, physiotherapy has proved to be effective in treating paresthesia.
Nerve gliding exercises are used extensively in treating numbness and tingling of the hands. It prevents nerve damage by facilitating circulation and nerve movement.
Nerve Gliding Sequence
The first position in the sequence is to make a loose fist with your thumb outside, covering the folded fingers. This improves circulation and relieves tension. The second position involves opening your fist with the all the fingers held straight up, pointing to the ceiling. Now, gently move the palm backwards as much as possible without discomfort. This is the third position. Hold for a few seconds. Now, extend the thumb away from the hand while still keeping it in this hyperextended position. This is the fourth position; hold it for several seconds without discomfort. Now, change the position of your hand by extending it even further, so that the palm now faces the ceiling. This is called supination and it will generate a minor pull along the wrist and the muscles extending from your thumb to the wrist. For the last position, you will have to put pressure on the extended thumb with a finger from the other hand, pulling it downwards. This sequence can be repeated 3-5 times in a set.
Paresthesia can be caused due to blood circulation problems and so a therapeutic massage could be beneficial in reviving blood-flow to the hands. Massages improve blood-flow through external stimulation of the circulatory system and lymphatic fluids.
Make sure the massage and exercises are performed under the supervision of a professional therapist, to gain most out of your therapy sessions.