Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Shoulder FAQ

Question:

I had a minor operation to repair some damage to my shoulder. They didn't even put me to sleep. I had a nerve block so I was awake for the surgery. My shoulder is better but now I have numbness and tingling in my ring and baby fingers. What could be causing this new problem?

Answer:

The nerve that goes to those two fingers is called the ulnar nerve. It runs down from the neck and shoulder through the elbow then to the wrist and fingers. Near the elbow, the nerve is close to the skin. Numbness and tingling can occur if it gets bumped, stretched, or pushed too hard or for too long.

This may have happened during the surgery because of the position of your arm. Pressure on the elbow for a long time could be the cause. This doesn't happen often. We do know it usually goes away by itself.

Most patients report the symptoms go away anywhere from two weeks after the surgery to six months later. The average time it takes is nine weeks.

Report these symptoms to your doctor (if you haven't already done so). He or she may suggest a wait-and-see approach for now.

Julie Y. Bishop, MD, et al. Interscalene Regional Anesthesia for Shoulder Surgery. In Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. May 2005. Vol. 87-A. No. 5. Pp. 974-979.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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