Hand Surgery

The questions below were raised by visitors to the STOMP (Straits Times Online Mobile Print) website in the AskST section of the website. eMenders doctors provided the answers to the questions raised as a public health education project. The information provided below is of a general nature and should not be treated as a replacement for medical advice. You should seek consultation from a medical or healthcare professional about your specific medical condition.


A numbing sensation generally indicates a problem with the nerves, which supply the affected area of the body. Sensation to the index finger is supplied by 2 digital nerves arising from the median nerve.

There are many possible causes for your complaint. These include:

  1. Carpal tunnel syndrome – compression of the median nerve in the carpal tunnel of the wrist.
  2. direct injury to the digital nerves.
  3. peripheral neuropathies – medical conditions such as diabetes may give rise to nerve damage.

The median nerve supplies feeling to the thumb, index, middle and ring fingers. Involvement of just the tip of the index finger suggests either direct injury to the digital nerves, or early carpal tunnel syndrome. If the latter, numbness may spread to the thumb, middle and ring finger as the condition deteriorates. Nerve conduction studies may be necessary to better characterise your problem.

Contributed by Dr Lim Beng Hai, eMenders Hand Surgery.

The causes of stiff fingers are many. Your problem is likely due to swelling of the tendon within a tight tunnel. This becomes worse especially in the morning because when you sleep, you do not move your fingers and there is little pumping action. Thus the swelling becomes more symptomatic.

You may have an impending trigger finger or a trigger finger, defined as the loss of the smooth gliding of the flexor tendon within the tendon sheath when you attempt to flex the finger or thumb. This is due to the thickening of the flexor tendon lining and /or the tendon sheath which is commonly associated with repetitive wear and tear of the flexor tendon with resulting inflammation of the flexor tendon lining and its sheath.

Symptoms include pain at the base of the finger or thumb and triggering especially early in the morning. In severe cases, the finger can be locked in the palm and forceful correction can result in a painful snap. Contractures can develop resulting in permanent inability to fully straighten and or flex the fingers or thumb.

The specialist to consult for more information on this condition is a hand surgeon.

Contributed by Dr Lim Beng Hai, eMenders Hand Surgery.