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Numbness on the thumb, feeling cold. Will it heal of its own?

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2005
Answered : 2308 Questions
I have numbness outside of left thumb, for past two months. It is persistent, I exercise daily, cardio and weight training, sit-ups push-ups. prior to numbness exposed to -30 - -40 degree outdoor temperatures, where hands got very cold one time. It is only in left thumb and strenght is not decreased. I do vitamins, not on any medications. Was hoping it would heal itself. If nerve damage due to isolation will it heal over time. Is my training a contributing factor.
Posted Mon, 11 Jun 2012 in General Health
Answered by Dr. Prasad 16 hours later


Thanks for the query.

I am a general physician associated with department of Neurology. As your query has been unattended for a while (which rarely happens on this forum), let me take this opportunity to answer it.

Peripheral numbness is caused by vascular, neurological, local causes and metabolic causes. As per your description, I shall consider a few possibilities.

1. Occasionally physical strain and strenuous physical exercise can cause cervical (spinal) nerve compressions (pinched nerve). 6th cervical nerve compression can cause numbness of the thumb and part forearm.

2. Central nerve pathology such as demyelination can lead to sensory disturbances such as yours.

3. Thermal injuries can lead to peripheral nerve injuries. Though you were exposed to extremely low temperature preceding this problem, the numbness you have is very, very unlikely to be related to thermal injuries. You would have developed local skin reactions / injuries if it were to be thermal injuries.
Presuming there were no such injuries, it is not possible to assume/relate your numbness to the low temperature exposure.

4. Diabetes, thyroid disturbances and next step which you need to do is consult a neurologist. He/she will be able to narrow down the possibilities by means of physical examination and relevant test such as blood (hemogram, blood sugar, vitamin B12 level, thyroid functions, etc), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of brain and cervical spine.

Symptoms would subside after correction of causative factor. This I presume should take another 2-3 months. Medications such as vitamin B12 supplements would be prescribed to fasten recovery. Steroid therapy is entailed in some cases.

In the meantime, avoiding strenuous physical exercises such as lifting weights and consuming plenty of fruits / vegetables will benefit you.

Hope I was able to address your concern. Let me know if you need any more assistance.

Wish you speedy recovery.

Best wishes
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