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We are familiar with the expression "my foot has fallen asleep". This sensation is caused by a change in the functioning of a sensory nerve and is known in medical circles as paresthesia. It can occur in any part of the body, but is most common in the fingers and feet. In the former, it may be associated with carpal tunnel syndrome, in the latter, diabetes or diabetic neuropathy may be the cause. This article will deal with tingling or numbness as it applies to these two conditions, although there are many other disorders that may produce this feeling.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a repetitive injury which causes the median nerve that enervates the hand to become compressed. Symptoms are pain, numbness and tingling in the fingers. Some people have difficulty grasping items and pain may radiate up into the arm. Women are more prone to this condition, possibly due to the anatomy of the hand. Forceful, repetitive movements such as is done by manual labour workers are usually to blame.
Splinting is usually the first line of treatment for this problem. The splint is worn at nights to keep the hand in a resting position, as most people bend their wrists during sleep and this puts additional stress on the nerve.
If splinting does not help, you may need surgery. Following surgery, physiotherapy is prescribed. Your physiotherapist will recommend that you avoid repetitive activities such as squeezing or pinching that put strain on the nerve. Exercises that stretch the wrist, and massage to get rid of scar tissue are vital in the treatment of this condition.
Diabetic neuropathy is characterised by loss of sensation in addition to tingling and numbness in the hands as well as the feet. Contractures and hammer toes usually result. Therapy serves to reduce pain, provide exercises to decrease the contractures and promote blood flow to the part. Physiotherapists also train patients to examine their feet for sores and blisters which can lead to amputation if left untreated.
Physiotherapy is an invaluable part of any treatment for tingling and numbness. If the advice and recommendations are carefully followed, you can find relief from these discomforts. Please see us if you have any such health concerns.
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