Dr. Marc Leavey explains what can cause sudden numbness in your index finger.

I was inspired to write this article after I discovered my right index finger had suddenly gone numb. Marc I. Leavey, MD, a primary care physician with 40-plus years of experience.

Is your index finger suddenly numb?

I was slightly pressing my index finger against a wall while navigating in the darkness when I realized, Hey, my index finger is numb.

Part of it, mostly the inner portion. I kept pressing it against the wall to verify this, and I also pressed my opposite fingers against it. Numb.

If you discover such a symptom, don’t panic. Ask yourself if recently there was pressure on your index finger.

“While nerves carry electrical impulses, pressure on nerves can actually disrupt those signals,” says Dr. Leavey.

“Pressure on a sensory nerve, such as at the wrist or elbow placed under a part of your body, under a pillow or just pressing against something, can produce numbness as if injected with Novocaine.

“I’ve had a hand and forearm become so numb from a weird sleeping position that when I turned over, my hand hitting my face felt like someone else’s.”

I reflected about what I could have done that day or the day before that could have imposed pressure on the finger. I didn’t come up with anything right away.

Then I remembered that I had been lying on the sofa (something I never do, but I was doing it to see if it would make a good bed for sleeping overnight).

The sofa isn’t that wide, so there really wasn’t room for both my arms to lie on either side of my body.

My left arm was wedged up against the sofa, while my right arm was left to dangle.

Well, I didn’t like the dangling, so I tucked my hand under my butt to hold my arm in place.

My butt had placed pressure on my index finger.

This finger had bore the brunt of the pressure — and re-enactment of this position confirmed my theory.

Re-enact the suspect position of pressure to see if the surface area of the pressure aligns or matches up with the surface area of the numbness in your index finger. Mine definitely did.

“When the effect of the pressure wears off, the nerve should carry impulses as usual,” says Dr. Leavey.

And that’s what happened in my case; before I knew it, everything felt perfectly normal again.

Dr. Leavey was formerly with Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, MD, where his focus was primary care and internal medicine. He has a blog, STRING OF MEDICAL PEARLS.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.