Many different conditions can cause numbness in the right hand, ranging from nerve problems to nutritional deficiencies. Some are serious while others are not a cause for concern.
Some of the most common reasons for numbness in the right hand are carpal tunnel syndrome, medication side effects, and acute trauma.
If the condition is serious, a person will usually have other symptoms accompanying the numbness.
This article reviews 23 conditions that may cause numbness in the right hand, their symptoms, and when to see a doctor.
The following are the more common causes of hand numbness:
Carpal tunnel syndrome
The motions put pressure on the median nerve, a major nerve in the hand. As the motions squeeze the nerve, the person experiences pain, numbness, and tingling in the wrist, hand, and sometimes arm.
Carpal tunnel syndrome usually gets worse over time, so seeing a doctor for diagnosis and treatment early can help avoid serious issues.
Most doctors will have a person wear a wrist splint or cut down on certain activities until the inflammation subsides.
Medication side effects
The medication may have a toxic effect on the myelin sheath or the axon of the nerves, causing damage and interfering with nerve signals.
Types of drugs that list neuropathy as a potential side effect include:
- some heart or blood pressure medications, such as amiodarone and hydralazine
- some cancer drugs, such as cisplatin and vincristine
- some antibiotics, such as isoniazid and metronidazole
- some seizure drugs, such as phenytoin
Physical trauma can also cause numbness in the right hand.
If an external event, such as a car crash, cuts, stretches, or compresses a nerve to the right hand, the person is likely to feel numbness.
A person who has experienced physical trauma should see a doctor for an examination so they can understand the extent of the injury.
People with diabetes live with high blood sugar and control it with insulin injections.
However, over time, high levels of glucose in the blood can cause diabetic neuropathy or nerve damage.
Usually, the nerve damage affects the peripheral nerves in the feet and sometimes the hands, causing tingling and numbness.
A person should ask their doctor if they have diabetes and they are also experiencing the following symptoms:
- peeing a lot
- thirsty and hungry
- losing weight without trying
- blurry vision
- dry skin or sores that heal slowly
- more infections than normal
The medical name for tennis elbow is lateral epicondylitis. Inflammation and micro-tearing in the tendons around the elbow cause this overuse condition.
The tears create a painful burning sensation on the outside of the elbow, and the inflammation can cause numbness in the hand.
It is called tennis elbow because it is common in athletes who play racket sports. However, it is still a common injury for many other activities.
Treatment is usually a combination of rest, physical therapy, and medication for pain and inflammation.
Golfer’s elbow is the opposite of tennis elbow. Here, the pain and inflammation are concentrated on the inside of the elbow. Where tennis elbow is lateral, golfer’s elbow is medial epicondylitis.
As with tennis elbow, numbness in the hand is a possible symptom.
Physical therapy, rest, and pain relief medications will usually help golfer’s elbow and prevent it from recurring.
A healthcare provider may ask the person to strengthen their wrist by squeezing a tennis ball and doing wrist curls.
Low vitamin B12 can cause nerve problems resulting in tingling or numb hands and feet.
Other symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency include:
- weight loss
- loss of appetite
- neurological issues like confusion, depression, and balance issues
A person usually gets vitamin B12 from their diet. It is in many foods, including beef liver, clams, fish, meat, poultry, eggs, and milk.
Low potassium, or hypokalemia, can also cause issues with muscle contraction, such as numbness in the hands.
Many foods are sources of potassium, especially fruits and vegetables. Therefore, a person usually does not need to take a supplement.
Raynaud’s disease is a condition where the small blood vessels in the extremities go into spasm when a person exposes them to the cold.
The spasming can cause numbness, pain, tingling, and throbbing in the hands. The skin will turn a blotchy red and white pattern.
Raynaud’s is quite common and not serious on its own. However, a person still might want to check in with a doctor in case of an underlying issue.
Herniated cervical disk
Sometimes degeneration or an acute injury can cause a cervical disk in the neck to slip or herniate.
The herniation may cause a narrowing of the spinal canal, putting pressure on the nerve root. This can cause numbness, weakness, and tingling in the hand and arm.
Treatment for a herniated disk is physical therapy, rest, and medication to control the pain. Sometimes a doctor will recommend surgery or injections.
The following causes are less common to rare:
A heart attack can present with arm or shoulder pain. If a person thinks they or someone else is having a heart attack, they should call for emergency help as soon as possible.
Arm or shoulder pain probably does not indicate a heart attack if the person does not also have chest pain or discomfort, shortness of breath, light-headedness, and pain in the back, jaw, or neck.
A sudden loss of feeling and strength on one side of the body is a key symptom of a stroke.
Thus, if a person is experiencing numbness in only their right hand and right side of the body and face, a stroke could be the cause.
Other symptoms of a stroke include:
- trouble seeing and walking
- numbness on one side of the body and face
If a person thinks they or someone else may have had a stroke, they should seek emergency medical help as quickly as possible.
Use the acronym FAST to diagnose a stroke and call the emergency line immediately to help prevent permanent brain damage.
If a person does not treat syphilis, it can spread to the brain and nervous system, a condition called neurosyphilis.
At this stage, the bacteria cause the hands and feet to become numb and tingly, along with:
- severe headache
- uncoordinated movements
A person can cure syphilis with antibiotics, but this might not undo all the damage from the disease.
Guillain-Barré syndrome occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the peripheral nervous system.
It can start with tingling and numbness in the hands and may extend to full paralysis.
Usually, the paralysis will start in the lower extremities and move upwards. However, occasionally symptoms will start in the upper body, moving down toward the legs and feet.
Other symptoms of Guillain-Barré syndrome include:
- vision issues
- difficulty swallowing, speaking, or chewing
- severe pain at night
- balance problems
- abnormal heartbeat
- digestion issues
- problems with bladder control
Thoracic outlet syndrome
The main cause of thoracic outlet syndrome is pressure on the blood vessels, nerves, and arteries running from the base of the neck, past the armpit, and to the arm and hand.
This condition can cause numbness or tingling down the arm into the hand. Other symptoms include changes in hand temperature and color, weakness, and swelling.
The treatment is an exercise program to restore normal posture and relieve compression in the area.
A bacterium causes lyme disease. Humans may contract it when they get tick bites.
If people do not treat lyme disease, the bacteria can attack the nervous system, causing shooting pain or numbness in the hands and feet.
- fever, chills, fatigue
- headaches and neck stiffness
- joint pain
- weakness in the facial muscles on one side of the face
Antibiotics can treat and cure lyme disease. There should not be any lasting effects if a person identifies the disease and treats it quickly.
However, if the cyst is pressing on a nerve, a person might have numbness or tingling in the hand.
A doctor can perform surgery to remove the cyst if necessary.
Cervical spondylosis is arthritis of the neck, a very common result of getting older and natural wear and tear on the body.
In the condition, the disks and joints in the neck degenerate, causing:
- grinding or popping in the neck
- trouble balancing
- muscle spasms in the neck and shoulders
In some instances, cervical spondylosis causes a narrowing of the spinal cord, putting pressure on the nerves leading to the hands and fingers. This can cause numbness or weakness.
Other symptoms of hypothyroidism include:
- weight gain
- a puffy face
- trouble tolerating cold
- joint and muscle pain
- dry skin
- dry, thinning hair
- decreased sweating
- heavy or irregular menstrual periods
- fertility problems
- slowed heart rate
A doctor might recommend medications to control thyroid hormone production. They might also recommend surgery to remove some or part of the thyroid to help it function properly.
Vasculitis is inflammation of blood vessels causing thickening, narrowing and weakening of the walls of the vessels.
A viral, fungal, or bacterial infection or a reaction to medications and toxins can cause it.
The inflammation affects the nerves, causing shooting pain and numbness in the arms, legs, and hands. Symptoms typically affect one side of the body more than the other.
Other symptoms of vasculitis include:
- vision loss
- loss of mental acuity
- chronic sinus infections
- kidney issues
- coughing up blood
- shortness of breath
- arthritis in the joints
- rashes on the skin
Treatment usually consists of medications to suppress the immune system, including methotrexate, prednisone, and cyclophosphamide.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic disease that causes widespread pain all over the body, including tingling or numbness in the hands and feet in some cases.
Stressful or traumatic events, illness, certain diseases, and repetitive injuries may cause it.
Other common symptoms of fibromyalgia include:
- pain and stiffness all over the body
- depression and anxiety
- sleep problems
- problems with thinking, memory, and concentration
To treat fibromyalgia, a doctor will usually prescribe over-the-counter medications to relieve pain. They may also recommend certain exercises to combat the symptoms.
Lupus is an autoimmune disease that can affect almost any organ in the body.
However, when it focuses on the joints, swelling and stiffness can cause numbness in the hands. Other symptoms of lupus include:
- muscle and joint pain
- chest pain
- hair loss
- sun sensitivity
- kidney problems
- mouth sores
- memory problems
- blood clots
- eye issues like dry eyes, inflammation, and rashes
Lupus is a chronic disease with no cure. A person can manage it with help from a doctor.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a degenerative disease affecting the myelin sheaths in the central nervous system.
Myelin is a fatty material that surrounds nerve axons. It helps nerve signals move around the body quickly and efficiently.
When this material degrades, the nerve impulses slow down. Numbness or tingling in the extremities, such as in the hands, can be a sign of oncoming MS.
Other symptoms of MS include:
- difficulty walking
- vision issues
- bladder and bowel problems
- pain and itching
- cognitive changes
MS is a chronic disease with no cure, but certain treatments can help improve a person’s quality of life.
Numbness in the right hand should dissipate in a few days.
However, if it does not go away or the numbness spreads to other parts of the body, a person should seek medical attention.
Get medical attention if one of the following symptoms accompanies the numbness:
- issues in other parts of the body
Look out for strokes and heart attacks, as they will need medical intervention very quickly.
Most hand numbness is musculoskeletal or can be cured with physical therapy, rest, or even antibiotics.
However, some rare causes listed in this article are chronic and require ongoing medical treatment. These include:
- Guillain-Barré syndrome
- multiple sclerosis
If a person notices anything out of the ordinary, they should consider checking with a doctor.