Arm numbness is a problem resulting from the loss of sensation or feeling in your hands. It can affect the entire arm, including the fingers. You can experience numbness in your arm due to simple issues like improper blood circulation or more serious issues like a heart attack or stroke. It is essential to identify the severity of the symptoms and take the necessary actions. With proper care and attention at the right time, you can overcome the numbness in your arm and the underlying health problem.
Know About Arm Numbness
You can experience numbness in your arm commonly due to sleeping in the same position for a long time or improper sitting posture at work. The action can put pressure on your nerves and cut off the blood circulation. So, you can experience numbness in the arm for a short period. But, other serious issues can also cause numbness. The reasons can vary from carpal tunnel syndrome to pinched nerves. Irrespective of the reasons, you need to get to the root cause of the problem of getting proper treatment.
In most cases, you can experience numbness along with other changes. It accompanies with a tingling or burning sensation. You can also feel pins and needles situation. The problem can make your arms, hands, and fingers feel weak or clumsy. Usually, the numbness occurs due to damage in a single nerve in one hand or it can occur symmetrically in both your arms.
Symptoms Of Arm Numbness
How does arm numbness feel like? You can experience various feelings in the arms. So, the signs can differ from one person to another. Due to the numbness, you can feel the following sensations:
- Loss of sensitivity
- A burning sensation
- Experience pain while contacting with a non-harmful stimuli
- Unusual stimulations like tingling
The numbness of the arm can have different characteristics. You need to monitor your condition closely to detect the factors making the sensation worse. It is important to determine the cause of the problem and its progression to get proper treatment. To cover the actual problem, you need medical assistance.
Causes Of Arm Numbness
At times arm numbness can invoke fear in your mind. It is the most common symptom associated with a stroke or heart attack. But, the reason for your numbness may not cause any concern. You may suffer from simple issues that you can rectify with ease. The different causes associated with the problem are:
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome refers to the inflammation of the carpal tunnel. You may wonder what carpal tunnel means. It is the narrow passageway on the palm-side of the wrist. It is formed by connective tissue and the small bones in your palm. The median nerve and tendons go through the tunnel. When inflammation occurs, it narrows the passage and puts pressure on the nerves. It mostly occurs due to the repetitive movements of your hand and finger. In most cases, the problem starts gradually and worsens over time. You experience the following symptoms associated with the condition
- Feeling of numbness in the thumb
- Loss of sensation in middle and index finger
- Weakness in your hands
- Pain in your arms
- Dropping things
Treatment For Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
If you suffer from the condition, you need to seek medical help. In mild cases, you can overcome the problem by taking breaks during repetitive movement. Other options to alleviate the problem are:
- You must offer adequate rest to your hands
- Cold packs to ease pain and swelling
- Avoid activities causing symptoms to escalate
If the condition is severe, then it can interrupt your daily activities as well as your sleep routine. So, you need to get proper medical treatment to alleviate the condition. You have the following treatment options to manage the problem:
You need treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome. Else, you can suffer from permanent damage to your nerves and muscles.
You can suffer from pinched nerve when it suffers too much pressure from the tendons, muscles, or cartilage. The ability to function properly can lead to numbness of arm. Injury or trauma can lead to a pinched nerve. In most cases, the pinched nerve develops due to underlying health issues like arthritis. It is the condition, which narrows the spaces between your bones in the spinal region. The pinched nerves can also occur due to the development of a tumor on the spine. When you develop pinched nerve in your arm, you can also experience symptoms like:
- Burning pain
- Sharp aching
- Tingling in arms (feeling of pins and needles)
- Muscle weakness in your arm
- Feeling of your hands falling asleep frequently
Treatment For Pinched Nerve
To treat a pinched nerve, you can follow some home remedies to manage the problem. The following treatment option can help manage the problem:
- Over-the-counter medications
When the home treatment fails to see results, you need medical treatment to deal with the problem effectively:
- Physical therapy
Migraine With Aura
You can suffer from migraine headaches. But, some types of headaches can affect your vision as well as other senses. Migraines known as auras can lead to arm numbness as it is one of the sensory problems associated with the condition. You can feel the numbness in the arms within an hour of getting headaches. The sensations can last for less than an hour. The condition can accompany with other signs like:
- Changes in vision
- Blind spots
- Vision loss
- Seeing flashes, stars, or zigzag lines
- Muscle weakness
- Difficulty speaking properly or saying the right word
Treatment For Migraine With Aura
You need medical assistance to deal with migraine headaches. It may not relieve the problem completely, but OTC or prescription medications can reduce the pain and discomfort associated with the problem. Always see a doctor as some of the symptoms indicate problems like torn retina or stroke.
High levels of blood sugar can damage your nerve. It can result in the condition known as diabetic neuropathy. In most cases, people suffering from diabetes for a long time can experience numbness in the feet. In some rare cases, it affects your arms. If you suffer from diabetic neuropathy, you can also experience other signs like:
- Sharp pains
- Burning sensation in arms or legs
- Tingling sensation
- Increases sensitivity to touch (you feel pain with the weight of your sheets or clothes)
- Loss of reflexes in areas of feet like ankle
- Muscle weakness
- Problems with balance
- Trouble coordinating your movements
- Joint pain
- Bone pain
Treatment For Diabetic Neuropathy
You have no cure for diabetic neuropathy. But, you need assistance from your doctor to relieve the symptoms associated with the problem. With proper sugar control, you can slow down nerve damage. So, you need a better diabetic management program to keep the sugar under control.
The neurological condition can occur when you suffer from any disease affecting the spine, brain, and the nerves connecting them. Certain neurological disorders like MS (multiple sclerosis) can trigger numbness in your arms. While the symptoms of the condition depend on the specific area of the body suffering from the issue, you can suffer physical and emotional symptoms due to the condition. The physical symptoms associated with neurological disorders include:
- Numbness in your arms and feet
- Trouble speaking properly
- Problems concentrating
- Numbness in your feet
Treatment For Neurological Conditions
You need to seek medical assistance to relieve the symptoms associated with neurological disorders. In some cases, medications can help you alleviate the problem. But, certain cases have no cure. So, the treatments aim to slow the progress of neurological disorders.
Side Effects Of Chemotherapy
Patients undergoing chemotherapy for some types of cancer can suffer from nerve damage. The chemotherapy drugs can cause tingling or numbness in your fingers, legs, toes, arms, and other areas of the body. The nerve damaging occurring due to chemotherapy is known as peripheral neuropathy. As a result of the condition, the nerves sending signals between the central nervous system and the legs as well as arms suffer damage. The feeling is known as glove and stocking sensation. It is because you feel as if your arms have a tight and thick glove covering it. Due to the condition, you can experience signs like:
- Burning feeling
- Stabbing pain that comes and goes
- Numbness in your arms or limbs
- Inability to feel pressure
- Muscle weakness
- Incapability to sense cold or hot temperature
- Trouble maintaining your balance
Treatment For Reducing Side Effects Of Chemotheraphy
You need to consult your doctor to talk about the condition. The medical professional can suggest the following treatment methods:
- Medication to relieve pain and numbness
- TENS (Transcutaneous nerve stimulation)
All the above-mentioned therapies increase the blood flow to your arm and encourage better sensation. Patients can suffer from side effects due to chemotherapy for up to two years. So, it takes a lot of time for the full feeling in your arm to return. But, always seek medical assistance when the numbness prevents you from performing your normal activities.
You can experience a stroke when the blood vessels carrying the blood to the brain gets blocked or bursts. The blockage can occur due to the development of a blood clot. When you have a stroke, you can experience the following symptoms:
- Problems seeing things clearly
- Difficulty speaking
- Drooping on one side of your face
Treatment For Stroke
The treatment for stroke depends on the type of problem you suffer. When the stroke occurs due to a block, you need medication immediately to restore the blood flow. An invasive procedure is necessary for more complex cases of blocks.
If the stroke occurs due to bleeding, then the emergency procedures focus on controlling the bleeding and reducing the pressure on the brain. You have to undergo a surgical procedure to prevent further risks.
A heart attack occurs when you suffer from insufficient blood flow to the heart due to a block. The loss of blood supply to the heart muscle can result in damage to the vital organ. When you experience a heart attack, it accompanies with other symptoms like:
- Left side chest pain
- Arm numbness
- Pain in your arm
- Shortness of breath
- Breaking out in cold sweat
Treatment For Heart Attack
If you suspect a heart attack, then seek medical attention from the hospital as soon as possible. With faster medical attention, you can prevent worse complications to your heart muscles. The treatment aims to restore blood flow quickly. Based on the severity, you need to take medications or undergo invasive surgery to manage the problem.
Diagnosing Arm Numbness
You can suffer from numbness in your arm due to different reasons. It ranges from deadly serious. From maintaining a bad posture to suffering from a heart attack, the numbing sensation can have a diverse underlying reason. So, you need to consult a medical professional to detect the actual issue. You need doctor’s assistance in cases where you experience left side chest pain along with numbness. It can indicate a heart attack, which requires immediate medical attention. You need to undergo the following tests to detect the problem conclusively:
You need to inform the doctor about your complete medical history during the physical assessment. You have to report about the symptoms you experience along with arm numbness. Even if you feel the signs have no relation to one another, you have to inform your doctor about it. It is also important to report your previously diagnosed medical conditions. Also, note the following:
- The injury or trauma you have suffered recently
- Suffer from any infections
- The vaccinations you have received in recent time
It is also essential to inform about the prescribed medications as well as over-the-counter medications you have taken. You need to inform about the supplements you are taking or taken in recent times to make a proper diagnosis.
Based on the physical assessment, you need to take a sample of your blood for testing. Various tests can help determine the actual underlying problem triggering the numbness. The following tests can detect different problems causing the problem:
Electrolyte Level Testing
The blood test can measure the electrolyte levels in your blood. It also detects the carbon dioxide levels in the blood. In normal cases, the electrolytes keep the balance of your body fluids. Minerals like sodium and potassium aids in the balance and proper working of your body. It is also responsible for maintaining brain function, muscle contraction, and heart rhythm. An imbalance in electrolyte levels can cause disruption in the body functions
Thyroid Function Testing
Thyroid problems can result in numbness of your arm. Untreated hypothyroidism can result in tingling sensation and numbness in your arm. It is because it can lead to fluid buildup. So, it puts pressure on the nerves of the legs as well as arms. The extra pressure can lead to nerve damage. In some cases, the low level of thyroid hormones can result in carpal tunnel syndrome. It can affect the nerves in the wrist and hands.
The presence of heavy metals or toxic elements in your body can cause problems in your body. Some people experience numbness of limbs as a result of the toxic presence in the body. So, doctors can perform toxicology screening. The test can determine the amount of legal or illegal drugs causing toxic accumulation in your body.
Vitamin Level Testing
Your doctor can suggest blood tests to evaluate your nutritional status. It measures the amounts of essential nutrients in your body. So, it helps detect nutritional deficiency, which can lead to numbness. The vitamin deficiency can trigger several problems, including numbness in your limbs.
Imaging testing offers a comprehensive image of the body’s soft tissues. So, your doctor can suggest different imaging tests to detect the abnormal tissues, nerves, or bones impacting your arm to cause numbness. The following imaging tests can provide a clear image of your arm or other organs triggering the problem.
- CT Scan (Head and Spine)
- MRI (Head and Spine)
- Ultrasound (Vascular and neck vessels)
The imaging tests can also help determine the underlying cause of your other symptoms. So, it helps your doctor reach a precise diagnosis.
Your doctor suggests other tests for proper diagnosis. The following tests can help detect more complex problems causing numbness in limbs.
Nerve Conduction Studies
An NCS or nerve condition study is the most common diagnostic test used to detect the function of a motor and sensory nerves. It evaluates the electrical conduction ability of the nerves in the human body. Nerve conduction study is mostly conducted along with needle electromyography. It can measure the nerve as well as muscle function. So, the tests can detect the actual cause of pain or numbness in the limbs. The tests can also provide information on the negative effects of spinal nerve compression or problems due to other neurologic disorders or injuries.
Lumbar puncture is also known as a spinal tap. It is used to detect the nervous system disorders causing problems with your arm. It is performed in your lumbar region (the lower back). During the procedure, a needle is inserted between your two vertebrae (the lumbar bones) to remove the cerebrospinal fluid. The sample of the CSF fluid can help in the detection of central nervous system disorders. The cerebrospinal fluid surrounds your brain as well as the spinal cord. It protects you from serious problems. So, you get protection from infections like meningitis or injuries. It also offers protection from multiple sclerosis or Guillain-Barre syndrome. The CSF fluid can also help in the detection of spinal cord or brain cancers.
The diagnosis can help detect the actual cause of numbness in your arm. It will help develop a better treatment plan to manage the condition and prevent any complications.
Treatment For Arm Numbness
The treatment for the numbness in your arm depends on the underlying cause. Never ignore the problem as it may indicate a serious issue. For simple cases, you can try some tips at home. It can alleviate the pain. So, the tips suggested below can help you deal with numb arms better:
- If you experience arm numbness in the morning, you need to adjust your sleeping position. Try using a wedge pillow to avoid sleeping on the arms.
- People experiencing arm numbness during the day need to perform some simple hand movements. The movements can improve circulation.
- Avoid repetitive arm movements. When you perform the same movements with your finger, wrist, arm or shoulder, you can experience numbness. So, break the pattern by taking frequent breaks.
While arm numbness can occur due to sleeping the wrong way or resting the arm for an extended period of time. Most people experience numbness at some point in their life. The underlying reason can vary from simple to serious. You need to consult your doctor to uncover the exact cause of the issue. With early medical intervention, you can manage the problem without fatal complications. The problem can resolve itself within a few days. But, serious cases need treatment to resolve. So, see your doctor as early as possible to minimize the complications and ensure your health.View Article Sources