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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Numb hands post shoulder surgery and neck impingement.

    I had an AC shoulder joint resection. Left shoulder compensated and swelled. Then I had neck impingement C6/7 6 months post surgery. My hands have been numb since July. Carpal Tunnel test by Neurosurgeon was negative. Have general wear and tear of neck. Soreness at times in my left shoulder blade but good mobility. Does anyone know why my hands would be numb? Especially after waking up my fingers on both sides sting at times in the palms of my hands. Please help...
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  • 1


    Brian Lee


    I graduated from the University of Melbourne in 2004 and have worked in various healthcare settings, including primary care, private practice and community health services, … View Profile

    It seems that you were already given an answer based on your description, i.e. neck impingement C6/7, esp when the symptom is more severe first in the morning may suggest more likelihood of neck origin. Though the hand numbness can also be due muscular origin as some patients do describe their perception of discomfort differently, therefore assessments on muscles in the forearm are necessary to differential diagnose. These two should be assessed first before considering other possibilities.

    Proper assessment is essential to confirm actual cause of numbness. You can either see a physio or a GP, who can further assess and refer you to a physio if required.

    Hope this helps, best of luck

  • Helen Potter


    As a Specialist Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist, with extensive experience and highly advanced qualifications, as well as excellent communication skills, I can help you to: Become informed … View Profile

    Numbness in both hands can originate in your neck or upper thoracic spine or maybe an impingement in the wrist. As carpal tunnel has tested negative, the cause must be closer to the neck. 

    With your history of pain another aspect to consider is hypersensitisation of the nervous system. 

    Your main aim needs to be to get a clear diagnois. As a Specialist Physiotherapist my role is to carefully assess all the possible casues via your history, description of symptoms, then methodical assessment of structures.

    If you look on the web for a Specialist Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist in your area, they should be able to guide you as to possibe casues then, most importantly, how your can get better.

    Try to avoid offers of treatment until you know what the problem is. Your physiotherapist will communicate with your neurologist.

  • 1


    Dr Simon Chan

    Hand Surgeon, Orthopaedic Surgeon

    Dr Chan obtained his medical degree from the University of Sydney. In 1998, he was awarded the Zimmer Research Fellowship at the Jo Miller Laboratory … View Profile

    Carpal tunnel syndrome is typically worse at night time and patients often wake with numbness in the hand(s).

    A negative nerve study usually means you do not have carpal tunnel syndrome. However, there is no test that is 100% reliable. The mainstay of diagnosis is history taking and physical examination.

    A hand surgeon will ask about your symptoms - eg which fingers are affected, how often your symptoms occur, what brings on your symptoms. She/he will then examine your neck and hands and perform specific manoeuvres to see if these precipitate your symptoms.

    It may turn out that you have a combination of nerve compression both at the neck and in the hand.

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