What Causes Burning & Numbness of the Hand?


Numbness and burning in the hand can be painful and debilitating. In recent years, carpal tunnel syndrome was thought to be the most common cause of these symptoms. However, many other neurological conditions can cause burning and numbness in the hand.

Ulnar Nerve Compression

Localized compression on a nerve (compression neuropathy) is a cause of numbness in the hands and fingers. The pressure can come from a variety of causes such as injury, enlarged blood vessels, cysts, spurs and muscles that have thickened. This type of compression neuropathy can often require surgery to relieve the pressure from the nerve.

Diseases of the Central Nervous System

Several diseases of the central nervous system may cause numbness, burning and tingling of the hand. These include diabetes and multiple sclerosis. Alcoholism, advancing age and poisoning from metals are also causes of these symptoms.


Certain medications may cause burning and numbness of the extremities. This is common with cancer treatment drugs, such as chemotherapy. These symptoms are most often temporary and usually subside after treatment has ended.

Nerves Compressed in the Cervical Spine

Nerves compressed in the cervical spine (the neck) may result in numbness and burning of the arms and hands. If the nerves are compressed in two areas, such as the neck and arm, doctors refer to it as a "double crush." This may occur because when a nerve is compressed, it becomes even more at risk for compression elsewhere.


Describing to your doctor the pattern of numbness and burning will help him determine whether your symptoms are coming from a nerve, a disease, medications or injury. Your doctor may order an MRI or X-rays, nerve tests, and blood tests to help him make the correct diagnosis. A correct diagnosis is key to resolving these symptoms, enabling you to return to an active life.

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