In cold weather, it’s normal to experience cold hands and fingers. But if there is a coldness in only one finger while the rest of the hand is normal, changes to skin color, numbness, tingling, or pain symptoms could be a sign of poor circulation or an underlying medical condition. Cold fingers could indicate various problems, including overuse injuries, vitamin deficiencies, Raynaud’s syndrome, hypothyroidism, anemia, arterial disease, or an autoimmune condition. Chiropractic care and massage therapy can increase circulation, release compressed nerves, relax the muscles, and restore mobility and function.
Blood circulates throughout, nourishing and maintaining body warmth. When compression, obstructions, or narrowing paths inhibit blood flow, the body cannot achieve proper circulation. Unhealthy circulation can cause several symptoms, including:
- Pins and needles sensations along the shoulder, arm, hand, and fingers.
- Weakened arm and hand muscles.
- Cold finger/s.
- Muscles aches, soreness, and tightness.
- Pale or bluish skin color.
Repeating one movement or motion constantly over time can lead to overuse syndrome/repetitive motion disorder in the hands and arms. Certain jobs and activities can cause overuse syndrome, including:
- Food service work.
- Graphic sign work.
- Computer work.
- Sewing work.
All of these jobs and activities can put a lot of repeated stress on the hands and arms.
Vitamin B-12 Deficiency
Vitamin B-12 is required for proper red blood cell formation and neurological function. It is found in many foods, including eggs, fish, meat, poultry, and dairy products. A vitamin B-12 deficiency can cause neurological symptoms like numbness, tingling, and coldness in the hands and feet. Other symptoms include:
- Difficulty maintaining balance
- Soreness of the mouth
A doctor requires a blood sample to test for the deficiency. A common treatment is a high dose of an oral supplement or injections for individuals that have difficulties absorbing B-12 through the digestive tract.
Raynaud’s syndrome is a condition that causes some areas of the body, usually the fingers, to feel cold and numb when exposed to cold temperatures or high-stress levels. This happens because the small arteries that supply blood to the skin are experiencing spasms. During an episode, the arteries narrow, which prevents blood from circulating correctly. The fingers can change color, going from white to blue to red. When the flare-up ends, and the blood flow returns to normal, there may be tingling, throbbing, or swelling. The condition isn’t usually debilitating, and treatment options often include medications that expand the blood vessels to improve circulation. These include calcium channel blockers, alpha-blockers, and vasodilators.
Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid doesn’t produce enough hormones. Hypothyroidism comes on gradually and rarely generates symptoms in the early stages. Hypothyroidism doesn’t cause cold fingers but increases the body’s sensitivity to cold. Other symptoms include:
- Muscle weakness, tenderness, and achiness.
- Joint swelling, stiffness, and pain.
- Dry skin.
- Weight gain.
- High or elevated cholesterol levels.
- Thinning hair and hair loss.
Over time, the condition can cause complications such as obesity, joint pain, heart disease, and infertility. A doctor can detect hypothyroidism with a simple blood test. Treatment involves taking a daily dose of synthetic thyroid hormone.
Anemia is when the blood has a lower-than-normal amount of red blood cells. It also occurs when the red blood cells lack a crucial iron-rich protein called hemoglobin. Hemoglobin assists red blood cells in delivering oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. A low supply of hemoglobin to carry oxygen to the hands can result in cold fingers. There may also be fatigue and weakness. Iron deficiency is what typically causes most cases. A doctor may suggest nutritional adjustments if blood work indicates low iron levels. An iron-rich nutritional plan and taking iron supplements can help relieve symptoms.
Diseases that affect the arteries can reduce blood flow to the hands, causing cold fingers. This can be from plaque buildup or inflammation in the blood vessels. Any blockage in the blood vessels can prevent blood from circulating normally. Another arterial problem is primary pulmonary hypertension, which affects the lungs’ arteries and can lead to Raynaud’s syndrome.
Chiropractic adjustments can remove misalignments, restore proper nerve communication, increase blood flow, and correct an overactive sympathetic nervous system. Massaging the shoulders, arms, and hands relaxes the nerves, and muscles, breaks up compressed tissues, and increase blood flow. The circulation of lymphatic fluid around the body is also promoted, which carries toxins away from the muscles and tissues. To improve circulation, the following may be utilized:
- Deep tissue pressure is effective at relieving congestion and tension.
- Percussive massage to break up scar tissue.
- Non-surgical Decompression to stretch the spine and body out.
- Lymphatic drainage is designed to improve the circulation of the fluid.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
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Ernst, E. “Manual therapies for pain control: chiropractic and massage.” The Clinical journal of pain vol. 20,1 (2004): 8-12. doi:10.1097/00002508-200401000-00003
InformedHealth.org [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. How does the blood circulatory system work? 2010 Mar 12 [Updated 2019 Jan 31]. Available from: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279250/
Pal, B et al. “Raynaud’s phenomenon in idiopathic carpal tunnel syndrome.” Scandinavian journal of rheumatology vol. 25,3 (1996): 143-5. doi:10.3109/03009749609080004
Waller, D G, and J R Dathan. “Raynaud’s syndrome and carpal tunnel syndrome.” Postgraduate medical journal vol. 61,712 (1985): 161-2. doi:10.1136/pgmj.61.712.161
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