Because our nerve pathways run throughout the body, any orthopedic injury can also be accompanied by nerve problems. A nerve that is pressured or stretched too much can be damaged. While nerve injuries can be permanent in the worst scenarios, most are temporary and will heal after some type of medical treatment, or even after just ice and rest.
Persisting numbness in the fingertips following an arm or elbow injury is cause to see an orthopedic doctor, preferably one specializing in treating the arm area. (Any inflammation through the hand, wrist, arm, elbow, shoulder, neck, or spine can affect feeling in the hands.) If the injury is not severe, your doctor will take steps to reduce inflammation. In most cases such treatment will take pressure off the nerves and restore feeling. A “pins and needles” sensation during the healing period is a sign that feeling is coming back.
A more severe arm injury can cause equally severe nerve damage. Not only may the injury itself require surgery, but additional surgery to repair the nerve may be required. This can be done by fixing the existing nerve structure or by grafting in a new section in place of a missing segment. Any of these surgeries are best performed by an orthopedic doctor specializing in the arm area. A post-surgery custom physical therapy program will follow this type of injury.
Numbness or tingling in any part of the body, whether it set in gradually or suddenly, needs medical attention.