Sensory Loss
What is it?
Sensory loss to the fingers or part of the hand can frequently follow hand or arm surgery, hand fractures, hand laceration or amputation and chemotherapy which may damage the small digital nerves to the fingers or palm.

One or all fingers may be affected with numbness, tingling or by hypersensitivity. 
In most cases the problem is temporarily caused by acute swelling or inflammation and with time the nerves will recover by themselves.

Sometimes however, prolonged bruising and swelling or complete nerve laceration can lead to more serious problems requiring micro surgery and/or a period of Hand therapy to restore sensation and movement.

Other conditions like arthritis, raynauds, diabetes or cervical radiculopathy can also cause changes to the way you feel things in your fingers making it difficulty to do every day activities.
Sensory Loss
How is it Diagnosed?
Diagnosis of sensory neuropathy is made based on the description of symptoms given by the patient. A more detailed physical examination and/or electrical testing may be used to identify the specific nerve responsible for the symptoms.

Sensory neuropathy symptoms include:
  1. Prickling and tingling sensation in all or part of the hand (see also pins and needles)
  2. Numbness and less of an ability to feel pain or changes in temperature, particularly in your fingers
  3. A burning or sharp pain, usually in the palm
  4. Hypersensitivity, feeling pain or uncomfortable sensations from something that should not be painful at all, such as a very light touch
  5. Clumsy movements and dropping things accidentally caused by less ability to tell the position of the hands or how much pressure to apply to hold items 

Sensory testing can be performed using special tiny monofilaments to touch different areas of the hand to determine the severity and which nerve is responsible. A more uncomfortable test know as "Nerve Conduction Studies" may be used if surgery will be required.
Sensory Loss
General treatment?
Treatment varies depending on the cause and how long the symptoms have been present.

At the early stages of a nerve that has been surgically repaired you will need to wear a small splint for about 3 weeks to prevent you from stretching the nerve too much accidentally.

Controlled gentle exercise will encourage you to move unaffected fingers to prevent them becoming stiff. Learning some simple exercises to aid blood flow and stimulate muscles are important to treat the whole hand as one unit.

At the later stages of healing Hand therapy to test the nerve to determine whether you need nerve stimulation to encourage re-growth or de-sensitisation therapy if the nerve is over stimulated and too excitable is important. Early treatment for nerve injury will ensure the best results.
Sensory Loss
Sometimes treatment is complicated by the development of a Neuroma, a painful nerve cluster at the end of the nerve where it was cut. 

Sensory nerves are very delicate following surgery or injury and are rarely the only structure damaged at the time of the initial injury. 
If other structures are involved such as motor nerves, muscles, tendons, ligaments and veins they will also require treatment. Your Hand therapist will design a programme that takes account of the different healing timelines for the different structures.

Nerves heal very slowly. It is estimated that they regrow at the rate of 1 millimetre per week up to 2 years after the injury. Unfortunately, in some cases sensory loss may be permanent and the person will need to learn to adapt to this.
Sensory Loss
Treatment at Hand Kinetics?
Hand Kinetics therapists are trained to treat numbness, hypersensitivity and complex surgical repairs so you can get back to your usual activities or work in the earliest possible time frame.

Depending on your presentation, you may require advice from Hand Kinetics on how to compensate for sensory loss and how to reduce the risk of hurting yourself accidentally if your sensory loss is perminant. Hand Kinetics are here to support you and help you through all the healing stages including the emotional difficulties associated with loosing sensation and movement.

Hand Kinetics Telephone: 0044 28 417 72301

15 The Avenue, Burren, Warrenpoint. Co. Down. BT34 3XJ

0044 28 4176 7238
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