A common ailment for those who spend significant time on computers is your pinky and ring finger numb and tingling. Whether you’re a travel agent, writer or IT professional, spending too much time on devices can lead to chronic discomfort. In this post, I’ll explain the possible causes of this discomfort and the best ways to remedy it.
Most of my friends and acquaintances are writers or IT professionals. The ones who aren’t writers or IT pros also spend lots of time on computers. If you haven’t already experienced numbness and tingling in your fingers, it’s possible you eventually will. Below I explain what causes this ailment and how to prevent it.
- How it Feels (What are the Symptoms)
- What it’s called
- What causes It
- How to diagnose it
- The cure
What Is Pinky and Ring Finger Numb and Tingling Called?
Any of a few conditions might cause this condition. Without a diagnosis from a medical professional, it will be difficult to determine which of these conditions is causing the numbness and tingling in your fingers. However, the cures and preventions for each are similar. Act soon to begin exercises and stretches to prevent the numbness and tingling.
Ulnar Tunnel Syndrome – Compression of the ulnar nerve in your wrist’s Guyon’s canal, also called Guyon’s canal syndrome.
Ulnar Nerve Entrapment at the Elbow – Also caused by the ulnar nerve, but from compression or entrapment of the nerve in your elbow. 
Cubital Tunnel Syndrome – The ulnar nerve is in a tunnel inside your elbow called the cubital tunnel. Cubital Tunnel Syndrome is irritation or injury to the nerve in this tunnel in the elbow area. It’s also “called cell phone elbow.”
It’s similar to Carpel Tunnel syndrome, which is pain in your thumb and index finger caused by the irritation or entrapment of the median nerve in your wrist.
What Are the Symptoms?
It begins as a tingling sensation, pins and needles, like your fingers are falling asleep. Mine tingled but were also sensitive. Typing caused slight pain in my fingertips. My fingers even stung slightly when tapping on my mobile phone. I tried stretching my forearms and fingers in different directions.
I assumed I was the only one suffering from this until a coworker approached me one day asking if I experienced pain in my hands. He said that his pain began a few weeks after moving to our new work stations. He described similar symptoms. First, the tingling fingers. His hands eventually began to ache while he was working. Then the pain lingered after work.
If left untreated, the pain grows worse, even painful. Mine never got that bad. The tingling concerned me enough that I sought out treatment. And shared it here with you
Eventually, this condition can weaken your grip strength. You might have trouble opening jars or typing. You can prevent this ailment by employing preventative self-care.
What Causes the Feeling of Your Pinky and Ring Finger Numb and Tingling?
The Ulnar nerve starts where your neck meets your shoulder, runs down your arm, through your elbow and to your hands. It’s close to the skin at your elbow, close enough that it’s extra sensitive when you bump it. You know that place called the funny bone.
If the ulnar nerve gets compressed, it’s like a kink in a garden hose. When you kink a garden hose, you restrict the flow of water. This is kinda the same thing. If you lean on your elbows for too long (such as when you lean on your desk or arm rests) or bend your elbows more than 90 degrees for too long (as when you’re holding a cell phone to your ear or typing on your keyboard.)
Other causes can be cysts or injuries. If you work on computers and talk on your phone as much as I do, though, there’s a good chance you’ve got a kink in you hose.
How to Diagnose It
I would never tell you to not visit your doctor. If you think you should visit your doctor about it, they I recommend that you see your medical professional to get their diagnosis and treatment. They’ll examine you and might take X-rays or perform an electromyogram.
I recommend visiting your medical professional. In the meantime, or to prevent this injury, perform the below suggestions for cure and prevention.
Rest Your Arms
Your doctor may recommend you rest your arms. Stop doing what you do to inflame and irritate your elbows. If your job relies on computer time, this may not be a valid option for you.
You may need to wear a splint to limit your movement. It will prevent you from keeping your elbows bent, especially when you sleep.
A pad to rest your elbows on if you lean on them. Although resting on your elbows too much can cause similar issues, padding can offer you some relief.
Your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications. These can work quickly. Unfortunately, they can also wreak havoc on your gut biome and liver. In addition to your doctor’s orders, I suggest non-inflammatory nutrition. Consume as little sugar as possible or avoid it altogether. Avoid alcohol as a means of dealing with stress. Speaking of stress…
Chronic stress can cause inflammation. Do what you can to avoid excessive amounts and stress. Employ stress-management practices for everyday stress.
Your doctor will likely prescribe physical therapy to loosen up afflicted areas as well as strengthen the muscles to easy and prevent the ailment.
More invasive treatments might be steroid injections or surgery. Steroids can also act as an effective anti-inflammatory, but extended use has other ill effects on your health.
In addition to doctor’s care–or to prevent the need for a doctor’s care–prevention is the best medicine.
Cubital Tunnel Syndrome Exercises
How to Prevent Pinky and Ring Finger Numb and Tingling
As that wise man said:
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
– Benjamin Franklin
Keep Your Arms Strong and Flexible
Strong muscles and bones can prevent many ailments. With light weights, perform lateral and side arm raises. In addition to raises, I also recommend military presses. Don’t attempt these with heavy weights, especially if you are new to these exercises. While they are great ways to strengthen your shoulders, they are easy ways to injure your shoulders if you attempt to much weight, especially with improper form.
If you’re not already suffering from your pinky and ring finger numb and tingling or in pain, I recommend bicep curls and tricep extensions. Also perform the exercises described in the above video of cubital tunnel syndrome exercises.
Maintain Good Posture
Due to bad posture, my shoulder muscles began impinging on a nerve in my arm. It caused chronic pain in my shoulder and bicep. I needed a few months of physical therapy to correct my posture and ease the impingement on that nerve.
Sit with good posture when at your work desk. Here are 5 ways you’re sitting wrong at your desk.
I do a lot of reverse flies with low weights. You can see how to do reverse flies in this video. I do this to keep those upper back muscles engaged and strong. This helps me keep my shoulders back and prevent my chest muscles from contracting.
Avoid Remaining Stationery for an Extended Time
In addition to a few minutes of exercise each day, don’t sit too long at your desk.
The ulnar nerve runs through muscles in your neck and behind your pectoral muscles. Because of this, sitting too long, especially with poor posture can affect your ulnar nerve in two ways. First, sitting with poor posture can directly compress your nerves. Secondly, sitting with poor posture can make those neck, shoulder and chest muscles inflexible and tight, putting even more pressure on the ulnar nerve.
Stand up periodically. Don’t sit for extended periods. If you use the Pomodoro technique when working you’ll automatically stand up frequently. Use your breaks for mobility exercises and stretching. Likewise, don’t stand in the same position for too long. Note in the “5 ways you’re sitting wrong” video that standing in the same position for too long is also bad for you.
Don’t keep your elbows bent more than 90 degrees for extended times. Again, don’t work too long without breaks. If you talk on your phone for extended sessions, use a headset so that your hands can remain free and extended.
Mobility and Stretching
Move your arms around. Grasp your hands and stretch your arms overhead. Likewise, grasp your arms behind you and stretch your shoulders by pulling your arms back.
This is something that offers me significant relief. I lay on my back on the floor with my arms out directly to my sides as though I were making snow angels. While laying on my back with my arms outstretched, I bend and raise my knees so that my feet are flat on the floor. Then I cross my right leg over my left leg and let them fall to the floor to my left. I lay that way for five or six breathes.
Next, remaining on my back with my arms stretched to the sides, I swing my legs to the other side, allowing them to fall to the floor to my right. I rest there for another few breaths.
Then I bring my knees back to the center, cross my left leg over my right leg and let them fall to my left. My legs are now crossed the other way. Finally, keeping my left leg crossed over my right leg, I swing them to the other side, allowing them to rest on the floor again on my right side.
That stretches my hips and piriformis muscles, my lower back, and my side and upper back muscles.
Consume inflammatory foods sparingly. Avoid chronic stress by meditating, exercising and other forms of stress management.
Try to get in 30 minutes of exercise each day. At least exercise three days per week. It may seem like you don’t have time to add one more item to your list of things to do. Exercise doesn’t just consume energy. It also creates it. Exercise also helps clear the junk from your mind. With the extra energy and clear head, you’ll find you accomplish more when you make time to exercise regularly. Not only will your agitated arms and hands benefit from moving more, but your entire body will also benefit from the increased blood flow.
Meditation practice is an effective way to reduce stress. Rather than trying one, long daily session. Aim for short sessions throughout the day. Here are 5 ways to sneak meditation into your day. Check them out. Then stop staring at your screen for a couple of minutes and try them out!
This numbness and tingling sensation isn’t pleasant. The pain that sensation can lead to is even worse. If you are experiencing it, I hope this helps.
Have you experienced your pinky and ring finger numb and tingling? Do you have more suggestions for easing it?