Why Your Numb Hands STILL Can’t Feel After Over 6 Months

Why Your Numb Hands STILL Can’t Feel After Over 6 Months Barefoot Rehabilitation Clinic

22 Feb Why Your Numb Hands STILL Can’t Feel After Over 6 Months

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Got numb hands or numb fingers?

Has it lasted more than 6 months, even though you’ve seen at least 3 doctors or therapists for it?

“Numbness” is a nerve symptom.

Nerves FEEL sensations and if a bone, piece of cartilage, pocket of inflammation, or a piece of glue (more commonly known as “adhesion”) is pressing on a nerve, that nerve can stop feeling, telling you that the nerve’s health is compromised.

Because numb hands or numb fingers is notoriously hard to fix, we created this guide so you can:

  1. Self-diagnose with relative accuracy WHERE the problem is coming from.
  2. Double-confirm your diagnosis with WHAT makes it WORSE?
  3. Learn about the BEST possible treatment you can receive to fix your numb hands.

Kinks in Hoses: What Causes Numb Hands?

Imagine a hose flowing out a healthy gush of water.

This is a healthy nerve that can carry messages along it’s path.

Now, imagine taking that hose and putting a kink in it, like so.


This is like what happens when your nerves convey that they are “not happy”.

Different ways nerves can tell you something is wrong includes:

  • tingling = “some feeling”
  • numb hands = “no feeling”
  • burning

Depending on where a nerve is being “kinked” from it’s course from the brain to the spinal cord to the finger tips, a different pattern emerges that lets you know WHERE the nerve is most likely stuck.

KEY HERE: You need to unkink the nerve.

Later, we’ll get into how.

But first, where is it kinked?

Where is your hose kinked?

There are two pieces of diagnostic information that can give you a nearly certain diagnosis of WHERE your nerves are being squished ON:

  • The pattern (or LOCATION) of your numb hands
  • What makes your numb hands WORSE

Often, we’ll ask our patients at Barefoot Rehab:

Exactly which fingers are numb?

Front, back, or both sides?

It’s very common that most people don’t know because they weren’t paying enough attention.

Right now, if you feel your numb hands, note exactly which fingers are numb.

If you don’t feel numb hands right now, make a mental note to check-in and find out which fingers.

Identify Your Location Pattern for Numbness or Tingling

Depending on the pattern, your nerves can most commonly be compressed:

  1. within your spine
  2. at the forearms (they’re called “peripheral nerves” at this location — these are your median, radial, and ulnar nerves)
  3. at the scalene muscles (they’re called “nerve roots” at this location)
  4. at the subscapularis (they’re called “brachial chords” at this location)

1. How to Know if a Nerve is Compressed Within Your Spine

Below is a diagram I found by googling “cervical dermatomes”.

“Derm” means skin, indiciating what patch of skin when a specific nerve root is affected within your spine.

For example, if you have thumb numbness or tingling, you may have a C6 nerve root impingement from within your spine.

Or if you have index and middle finger numbness or tingling, you may have a C7 nerve root impingement.

KEY POINT: TO confirm the problem area is coming from your spine, you would have tingling/numbness on BOTH sides of your hand.


2. How to Know if a Peripheral Nerve is Compressed in Your Forearm

Above, we noted that numb hands or fingers on BOTH sides is usually a problem from within your spine.

If a nerve is stuck in your forearm, it will generally be a different pattern.

Now, look at the chart above.

If your 1st 3 fingers are numb, you might think you have a C6 and C7 nerve root problem.

But if half of your ring finger is numb, now we’re talking about a median nerve problem (the same nerve compressed in carpal tunnel syndrome).


To further distinguish a median nerve problem from a C6 or C7 nerve root problem, the back of your hand would only affect the ends of the fingers if the problem was the median nerve in your forearm or wrist.

A C6 or C7 nerve root problem would affect the same exact pattern, front and back — without the ring finger.


Or maybe your pinky and ring finger are numb?

Now, check in with your body, is THIS part of your ring finger numb (closest to your middle finger)?


If it’s the whole ring finger, then you have a C8 nerve root problem coming from within your neck (RIGHT hand below).

If it’s half of the ring finger, you have an ulnar nerve entrapment in the forearm.


3. How to Know if a Nerve is Compressed At the Scalene Muscles

Entrapments at the scalenes and subscapularis can be varied.

If your entire hand is numb, front and back, this entrapment happens anywhere from:

  • subscapularis
  • scalenes
  • within the spine.

Your entire hand CAN NOT be numb from the forearm by itself.

So location is not a great indicator for confirming a diagnosis of nerve root entrapment at the scalenes.

We’ll use “What makes it worse?” to confirm this location.

4. How to Know if a Nerve is Compressed At Subscapularis

As I mentioned with the scalenes, entrapments at subscapularis can have a wide range of patterns presented in numb hands.

We’ll use “What makes it worse?” to confirm this location.

What Makes Your Numb Hands WORSE?

The 4 Categorical Locations for WHERE numb hands can come from are:

  1. within your spine
  2. at the forearms (they’re called “peripheral nerves” at this location — these are your median, radial, and ulnar nerves)
  3. at the scalene muscles (they’re called “nerve roots” at this location)
  4. at the subscapularis (they’re called “brachial chords” at this location)

It’s a principle for fixing chronic musculoskeletal pain:

Damaged Tissue Gets WORSE When Stressed or Loaded

In other words, if we suspect that the PROBLEM is coming from a specific area, then we should be able to stress it directly and if it gets worse, we’ve (mostly) confirmed a diagnostic hypothesis.

1. What Makes Numb Hands Worse When Coming From Within the Spine?

A few months ago, we had a gentleman who DM’ed us on Instagram.

His numb hands were made worse while sitting at desk and looking down.

Dr. Joe explains that this is a hallmark SPINE problem and reviews the ring finger with you in the video below.


Other indicators of worsening numbness we see in the office are:

  • turning your head to either side
  • watching TV or Netflix from a funky bed posture (which often leaves people with headaches)

2. What Makes Numb Hands Worse When Coming From The Forearm?

The peripheral nerves:

  • median nerve
  • radial nerve
  • ulnar nerve

are simply worsened with forearm use like:

  • typing
  • grip work during exercise or labor
  • or stretching it like we do in the Wrist & Finger Extension Test (this post goes into depth on FOREARM entrapments and how we grade the test)


3. What Makes Numb Hands Worse When Coming From The Scalenes?

To check if the scalenes are involved, you would do the Cervical Lateral Flexion with Shoulder Depression Test.


  1. Keep your shoulders horizontal with the floor.
  2. Bring your ear to your shoulder on the side OPPOSITE your numb hand.
  3. The scalenes are confirmed if your numb hands are made WORSE.
  4. You have double confirmation that the scalenes are involved when you drop the shoulder on the SAME side of your numb hand and the symptoms get even WORSE.

4. What Makes Numb Hands Worse When Coming From Subscapularis?

The primary indicator you’ll use to check if this rotator cuff muscle is involved is the Biceps to Ear Test.


  1. Bring your biceps to your ears.
  2. Generally – if your numb hands get WORSE, subscap is involved.

Can Nerves Be “Kinked” at Multiple Spots?

Unfortunately, yes.

This is why fixing chronic pain isn’t a simple thing.

If it were simple, there wouldn’t be so many people in chronic pain.

In the below video, Dr. Nina circles 4 different spots that can all be “kinking” your median nerve (aka the “carpal tunnel” nerve).

If your location of numbness and worsening movements don’t make complete sense, you likely have a MORE complex nerve problem and may need an expert doctor’s help.

How to Permanently Fix Numb Hands

In the intro, we mentioned that nerves can be pushed on by:

  • bone
  • cartilage
  • inflammation
  • adhesion

Bone, cartilage, and inflammation are the most common culprits when the nerve is impacted within the spine.

Adhesion is the most common culprit when the nerve is impacted outside the spine (at the scalenes, subscapularis, or forearms).

Below is a snapshot we took from a youtube video of adhesion around the median nerve in the forearm.


As NJ’s ONLY Adhesion Removal Clinic, we’ve helped many people directly who have numb hands at these locations.

While we can still help people who have numb hands coming from within the neck, this treatment is INDIRECT. We unload the neck by removing adhesion around it and if the neck is not severely damaged, the nerve symptoms will get better.

We share the indirect nature of treatment for a NECK PROBLEM so we can be fully transparent. Results may not be as high as scalenes, subscapularis, or forearm treatments (75-100%) for the neck if it’s already severely arthritis (we’d hope to shoot for 50-75%).

Below, Dr. Joe provides a maintenance video for our patient Olesya who is 80% better from her worst hand numbness and severe neck pain.

You might notice that her hands are no longer numb, but her medial forearms still are.

Go back to the dermatome chart above and now you’ll see:

  • She no longer has C7 or C8 nerve root symptoms in her 2nd through 5th fingers.
  • She still has C6 nerve root symptoms in her medial forearm.

To fix your numb hands, you need the following:

  • To get your Ranges of Motion checked before and after each treatment (here are the 5 neck tests we use to see how healthy or sick your neck is).
  • To get checked for adhesion along the course of the nerve.

Here are a few of the tissue we check for adhesion:

The nuchal ligament, when adhesed, overloads cervical discs causing numb hands from within the spine. We use Instrument Adhesion Release to break it up.

Here’s how we remove adhesion from the nerve roots at scalenes with an assistant.

NOTE: The assistant is mandatory because the nerve won’t stay pinned down if the shoulder isn’t stabilized. Treatment without an assistant is largely ineffective.

What Should You Do Now?

Assuming you’ve had numb hands or neck pain:

  • over 6 months
  • seen at least 3 doctors or therapists …

… without relief … it’s probably time to see an Integrative Diagnosis doctor who specializes in diagnosing you and Manual Adhesion Release.

You can Find a Provider HERE.

Or if you live near New Jersey, our clinic, Barefoot Rehab is the ONLY Clinic in New Jersey certified to find and fix adhesion.

If you’re curious if you’re a candidate for permanent pain relief, give us a call at 862-205-4847 to schedule a call with oen of our patient advocates and finding out. Barefoot Rehab’s doctors aren’t magicians, but they do help people with chronic pain EVERY SINGLE DAY!

If you have numb hands, which fingers are they?

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Dr. Chris Stepien, DC, Full-Body ID Certified, ART Certified, CSCS, and CrossFit Level 1 Certified, fixes your annoying and frustrating pains, even when it's been over 6 months and you've seen 3-5 other doctors or therapists without lasting relief Barefoot Rehab in Denville, NJ. And when you're sad, depressed, or not enjoying life, Dr. Chris wants to hug you. He invites you to reach out, no matter what your concern is. Barefoot Rehab is here to serve you.
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