Numbness in left arm accompanied by a tingling sensation is amongst the most common when it comes to health complaints. While this condition, in some cases, is a result of health problems such as dehydration and panic attacks, it might indicate a more serious underlying problem. It is, therefore, very necessary for you to consult a doctor as soon as you feel numb in your left arm to prevent any possible complications. In order for you to understand just how serious this can be, you should find out more about numbness in left arm in order to appropriately deal with this condition.
Why Would I Experience Numbness in Left Arm?
Stroke is one of the many conditions that can cause numbness in the left arm. During a stroke, the brain’s blood supply is reduced or interrupted. Therefore, the brain lacks nutrients and oxygen supply. Some common causes of a stroke include smoking and high blood pressure.
Numbness or tingling in left arm can also be associated with the life threatening heart attach when blood supply to heart is not sufficient to perform normal physiological and contractile functions. During a heart attack, the chest pain may spread to other areas like arms (especially left arm), back, shoulder and abdomen.
Injury to the fingers, elbow or arm can also cause numbness in the hands. Arms and hands numbness is sometimes accompanied by a sharp pain in the area that has been fractured. To diagnose the bone that has been fractured, an x-ray will be performed. Common symptoms of a fractured bone in the left arm include sharp pain and a left arm tingling sensation. The fractures can be of the collar bones, lower arm, upper arm or shoulder blade. Such fractures can trigger numbness in left arm.
Many times, numbness in the hands is confused for angina. Angina pain is mainly caused by arteriosclerosis where the heart’s blood arteries are thickened. This is also referred to as a heart attack. Proper treatment and a diet that consists of low cholesterol can cure angina.
In this condition, fingers become cold when the temperatures are cold. The arteries that carry blood to the arms narrow, thus causing numbness. Treatment of Raynaud’s disease depends on the severity of the symptoms. This disease is more common in women.
There are times when the never that runs to the left arm from the CNS gets compressed. This results in numbness in the left arm because the arm’s blood circulation has been interrupted. If a person has diabetes, they are also likely to suffer from a condition called diabetic neuropathy. Damage to the nerves is also referred to as peripheral neuropathy. Peripheral neuropathy can also be caused by exposure to toxins, metabolic problems, injuries and infections.
Brachial Plexus Injury
Brachial plexus refers to a network of nerves. This network sends signals to the arms and shoulders from the spine. In this case, the hand nerves get overstretched or torn. Also, the carpal tunnel syndrome causes finger numbness because of damage to the nerves.
Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
The cubital tunnel is the narrow passage in the elbow where the ulnar nerve passes through. When this nerve is compressed due to a fracture to the elbow, a cyst or a bone spur, there may be decreased grip, tingling in left arm, numbness, etc. This is the condition that is referred to as ulnar nerve entrapment or cubital tunnel syndrome.
Systemic lupus erythematosus is a disorder whereby the body starts attacking its own tissues and cells.
Multiple sclerosis is a disease affecting the spinal cord and brain.
A tumor or injury to the spinal cord, and transverse myelitis which is a neurological disorder that causes inflammation to the spinal cord.
Arteriovenous malformation refers to tangled knots of the veins and arteries.
PAD, also known as peripheral artery disease, is the narrowing of the arteries. This narrowing is caused by build-up of cholesterol and fat on the artery walls and it thus limits blood flow to extremities.
Low temperature Frostbite or extremely low temperatures can cause numbness.
Buerger’s disease refers to acute clotting and inflammation of veins and arteries.
Alcoholism and heavy metal poisoning such as lead poisoning.
Hypothyroidism which refers to an underactive thyroid.
Deficiency of vitamin B12, more commonly pernicious anemia.
Diagnosis of Numbness in Left Arm
If your physician thinks that the numbness in your left arm has been caused by minor nerve damage, he may have to conduct a nerve study or an electromyogram (EMG). This test helps check electrical properties of the nerves in the arm. If the problem is spinal cord or brain related, you may have to undergo a CT scan or MRI. Blood tests can show signs of infection or toxins. An x-ray will be required if it is a fracture. In the event that the numbness comes with chest pains and other symptoms linked to heart attacks, an ECG will be conducted to assess your heart’s function.
How to Deal With Numbness in Left Arm
For swelling or fractures and pain, try a warm compress.
If you have nutritional deficiency, start taking Vitamin B12 and calcium supplements.
If there is interruption in circulation for some time, move the hands and arms to relieve pain and improve circulation from compressed or pinched nerves. Dietary changes can also help in conditions like diabetes by regulating your circulation.
Treatments and medication are also available if there are circulatory problems, ganglion cyst or diabetic neuropathy.
If the numbness is caused by injuries, do not strain your arm, rest instead. You can also apply cold compress to the injuried areas and elevate the arm slightly above the heart to deal with swelling.
For carpal tunnel syndrome, better keep your wrists straight and do not try anything activities that may worsen the condition.
Depending on the cause, the numbness can disappear and appear fast. If the numbness is chronic, it is likely that nerve damage exists. If you have numbness that lasts for several minutes, consult your doctor. Numbness can be a symptom of different conditions, disorders or diseases. It might be serious and needs to be diagnosed immediately.
How to Prevent Numbness in Left Arm
The following may help prevent numbness in left arm:
In low temperatures, wear warm gloves.
Avoid resting the elbows on high desks for a long time when working on a computer.
Try to not use mechanical screwdrivers.
Avoid placing your arms on a pillow or head on your hand when sleeping.
Prevent permanent brachial plexus by avoiding putting your arms over a chair’s back.