Numbness in the Wrist

Fact Checked

iGeorge Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Wrist numbness can be caused by a variety of problems, some of which can be simple to fix with lifestyle changes and others that require therapy or medications. If your wrists are frequently numb, get checked by your doctor as soon as possible to address the root of the problem and boost your chances of healing thoroughly.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome, which occurs when a nerve in your wrist gets compressed, is a common cause of numbness, tingling, burning, aching and weakness in your wrist, according to MedlinePlus. Carpal tunnel syndrome can also cause these symptoms in your fingers and thumb and pain may radiate as far up as your elbow. You may develop carpal tunnel syndrome if you do repetitive movements such as typing, playing piano, writing or playing racquetball. You are also at an increased risk of carpal tunnel syndrome if you are overweight, have diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis, or if you experience hormonal changes with pregnancy, menopause, premenstrual syndrome or an underactive thyroid.

Many Other Causes

Carpal tunnel isn’t the only cause of numbness in the wrist. You may also experience wrist numbness if you injure a nerve in your wrist, have pressure on a nerve in your spine or have a lack of blood supply to that area of your body, according to MedlinePlus. Health problems such as multiple sclerosis, migraines, a seizure disorder or a stroke can also lead to temporary or permanent numbness in the wrist. Vitamin deficiencies, insect bites and certain medications may also cause numbness.


Because wrist numbness may be caused by many conditions, the best way to get to the root of the problem is to get a formal diagnosis. Your doctor will gather a medical history and conduct a physical examination. If necessary, she may: take blood samples to check your levels of hormones, electrolytes, blood sugar, vitamins and any potential toxins; use imaging tests; and use nerve or cold stimulation test to check for conditions such as nerve damage or poor circulation. She may also request to extract fluid from your spine -– a procedure called a spinal tap or lumbar puncture -– if she thinks you could have a central nervous system disorder.


Your treatment plan will be specific to the underlying cause of your wrist numbness. For instance, your doctor may suggest that you team up with a physical therapist and do exercises to reduce carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms. Home care steps can also play a big role in relieving numbness. For example, you may need to alter your posture at your work desk or take breaks to relieve your wrist from the strain of repetitive movements. If your wrist problems were caused by an acute injury, you may need to apply ice and wear a splint. For other causes of wrist numbness, you may need vitamin supplements, prescription medications or a surgical procedure.