Numb Hands And Feet After Heart Surgery

By Adam Pick on September 26, 2007

Every once in a while, I receive an email that triggers a distinct memory from my heart surgery recovery. As you may have read in my story, I had a double heart valve replacement at the age of thirty-three in Los Angeles by Dr. Vaughn Starnes at USC.

Following my heart valve surgery, I experienced some challenges with my body temperature. I write about this in my book, The Patient’s Guide To Heart Valve Surgery.



Sometimes I would have severe nightsweats… Especially the first few nights following surgery. At other times, I would find myself struggling to stay warm – almost to the point where I had numb hands and feet after heart surgery.

Amongst the pain of a split sternum, this was a subtle issue. However, my numb hands and feet after heart surgery continued for the first eight weeks following surgery.

One day at my cardiac rehab center, I asked one of the cardiac nurses, “Are my hands and feet going to be numb from now on?” To learn more about cardic rehab, click here.

Donna looked over at me and said, “Are you taking Ibuprofen?”

I nodded my head up and down, and said “Yes!” as I peddled round-and-round on the stationary bike.



“How many?” Donna furthered her inquiry.

“About twelve a day,” I responded as I huffed and puffed on the bike.

“Well. There you have it!” Donna said.

Donna went on to tell me that heavy intake of Ibuprofen can alter body temperature. Sure enough, as the pain from my surgery decreased, so did my intake of Ibuprofen.

Guess what?

So did my numb hands and feet after heart surgery!

Keep on tickin!

Written by Adam Pick
- Patient & Website Founder

Adam Pick, Heart Valve Patient Advocate

Adam Pick is a heart valve patient and author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery. In 2006, Adam founded to educate and empower patients. This award-winning website has helped over 10 million people fight heart valve disease. Adam has been featured by the American Heart Association and Medical News Today.

Adam Pick is a heart valve patient and author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery. In 2006, Adam founded to educate and empower patients. This award-winning website has helped over 10 million people fight heart valve disease. Adam has been featured by the American Heart Association and Medical News Today.

Charles Ciecalone says on January 12th, 2009 at 9:12 pm

I had a quadruple bypass 10 weeks ago. The last two fingers on my right hand are numb as is the small finger on my left hand. I cannot bring the middle fingers of my right hand to touch each other, no matter how hard I concentrate. My surgeon said this is not uncommon, but I have had no improvement since my surgery. My concern is that the injury might be permanent.

Jessie Ward says on April 20th, 2009 at 5:31 pm

I have just had double valve replacement surgery … almost a month now.
I am 66 years old and experience the same numbness, sweats and temperature changes. I don’t take ibuprofen, though. I do, however, take the generic equivilent of DARVOCET. I am glad to hear that this disappears over time.

Bryant Jumeau says on May 29th, 2009 at 6:13 pm

My friend just had heart valve replacement surgery about five weeks ago, and is recovering pretty well, but he experienced numbness in his right hand for the first time yesterday, for varying periods of time and intensity about once every hour, hence my searching for answers to this concern.

Jessie Ward says on December 4th, 2009 at 11:59 am

This is my second reply … first was in April just after my surgery. Here it is in December … almost nine months after surgery … still having numbness problems … side of head and neck and lower back.

shawna says on August 31st, 2010 at 11:27 am

I just had arotic valve surgery and had a pacemaker put in and I am having same issues with my left hand and my left foot also at some times at night but my left hand is all the time and the surgeon told me if it does not improve in couple months he going refer me to a nerosurgeon and reason for my hand feeling this way is how they had my arm layed during the surgery I would also like some answers on this as well oh and to add to this I wasnt taking ibprofen I just started taking some couple days ago I had my valve replaced aug 3rd and pacemaker put in aug 11th oh and this will be my second valve repleaced first one was in 2005 I had pig valve put in this time metal one

Keith Harris says on December 7th, 2010 at 11:05 am

I had a triple bypass on November 15th. I have a left over problem of numbness in the last 3 fingers of my left hand which is bearable just makes life a little difficult. My biggest problems are related to my continued shortness of breath and a pain across my right shoulder which is almost like a pinched nerve. I’m curious if this is the “norm” as the pain disrupts my sleep…

Dan says on March 9th, 2012 at 3:15 pm

I HAVE HAD A 5-WAY BY-PASS AND NOW HAVE NUMBNESS IN BOTH HANDS ON THE LAST TWO FINGERS. IT HAs been 2 weeks since surgery and went to see a neurologist. He said he will have tests made and determine if surgery will fix this. He also said this was from the heaRT surgery. 2-16-2012

Keith. says on March 11th, 2012 at 11:47 am

Dan, first of all I hope you are getting on OK after your by-pass and regarding the numbness in the last two fingers of your hands I can assure you it will go away. With me, the right hand cleared first within a month and the left hand took almost 6 months to be completely cleared – but today 16 months later everything is fine. I strongly suggest you don’t do anything surgically until you give it a chance to heal and read plenty of blogs as it’s a common occurrence following heart surgery.

Dan says on March 26th, 2012 at 9:28 am

It is now 5 weeks since cabg5 and still have the last two fingers numb on each hand. the neurologist says maybe to operate on this problem (no way). When does it start to heal since i need pain killers to sleep.?

Dan says on April 10th, 2012 at 11:22 am

Almost two months and still have the problem with two end fingers on both hands When will it go away?????????

Laura Arwood says on June 3rd, 2012 at 11:45 am

Thanks heaps for this entry! Thought I was going nuts or having hot flashes and now I suspect its the ibuprofen.

Roslyn says on May 27th, 2015 at 8:02 pm

I am one year in survival from a mitral valve repair, three emergency surgeries to save my life, weeks on dialysis, and I died three times. My right foot is still numb,
“prickly”, and burning. None of my pre-“unexpected event” shoes fit, and the only
respite I get from pain and discomfort is when I am asleep. I’m grateful I get that.
Doctors tell me it won’t get better. I don’t believe doctors anymore – ever.

Ajith says on March 15th, 2017 at 11:05 am

Open heart surgery has done past 2 months before yet im feeling tat 2 end fingers in my right hand is still being numb,how can i recover from it

Rich Harris says on April 4th, 2017 at 4:19 am

Hi I am 8 weeks after major heart surgery and I see on here people saying their fingers are numb . Since the surgery I have had a completely numb left thigh with bad stabbing pains which wake me up at night but now I am getting day after day of having 2 dead legs and arms . I offer have trouble walking and collapse as my legs won’t support me. Doctors keep just saying it will pass and it’s because my operation was 6 hours but if of thought by now it would be getting better not worse . Does anyone else have this issue

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