Cheiralgia paresthetica, also called Wartenberg’s Syndrome, is a pain syndrome that typically affects the back or side of the hand at the base of the thumb.
Cheiralgia paresthetica is usually caused by compression or trauma to the superficial sensory branch of the radial nerve in the arm. Other common causes of this condition are repetitive motion or overuse of the affected arm, as well as constriction of the wrist from wristbands, watches, and athletic taping. Symptoms may also be the result of injury or surgery in the wrist.
Symptoms of cheiralgia paresthetica will typically include numbness, tingling, burning, or pain at the base of the thumb. In some cases, these symptoms may travel up the back of the thumb and index finger to the back of the hand. Because the nerve branch is sensory, there is no motor impairment associated with the injury.
Cheiralgia paresthetica will commonly resolve itself within several months once the constriction is removed, though permanent damage is possible.
Properly treating cheiralgia paresthetica enhances recovery and nerve repair. Treatment is often straightforward, especially if the condition was caused by a poor fitting brace or wrist constraint. In that case, removing the constraint is an important and easy fix. When the condition is a direct result of chronic repetitive motions or movements, rest is an important recovery factor.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, like ibuprofen and aspirin are commonly used in treatment. Patients usually respond well to massage therapy as well, in order to reduce muscle and tendon irritation. In some cases surgical decompression may be recommended.