Harvard Men's Health Watch

Numb hand: Should you worry?

Ask the doctor

Q. My right hand goes numb when I open a can or use hand tools. Is this something I need to worry about? Do I have carpal tunnel syndrome?

A. The hand receives its sensory information from three different nerves, and irritation of any of them can lead to numbness. In the hand, numbness is often related to the way that the nerve is compressed or squeezed slightly when you bend your wrist, as happens when you open a can. Excess vibration or repetitive hand motion when you use tools may also cause numbness.

If the numbness quickly fades and you don't notice any hand weakness, you probably don't need to worry. Just pay attention to the activities that cause the numbness and try to alter, avoid, or limit that type of motion. You can also try doing some wrist stretches before activities. However, if the symptoms become persistent and interfere with your activities, you should talk to a doctor.

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