September 26, 2022

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  • Tingling is quite common and is usually related to a problem with nerves or blood circulation.
  • Possible explanations include sleeping position, diabetes, a minor stroke or heart attack.
  • If the tingling persists, your doctor can help you find the cause and recommend the right treatment.

Tingling in your left arm is a fairly common sensation, although you may describe it by a different name, such as tingling, “sleep,” pins and needles, or numbness.

Like tingling, these are all medically known as paraesthesia. Depending on the cause, paresthesia can range from mildly noticeable to intensely uncomfortable and painful.

Generally, tingling in your left arm is related to either a nerve problem or a blood circulation problem — but the specific cause can range from something as trivial as sleeping on your arm to a major problem like a heart attack or stroke.

Below, you’ll find seven explanations for tingling in your left arm and how to treat this symptom.

1. A pinched nerve in your neck

“A pinched nerve in the neck is one of the most common causes of tingling in the left arm,” he says Dave Candyphysical therapist and owner More 4 Life.

You may also feel pain, numbness, or weakness in your arm, depending on what’s causing the pinched nerve and how severe it is.

One possible cause is age-related wear and tear, called cervical spondylosis, when the discs in your vertebrae thin and weaken. To compensate, your body can grow bone spurs to support weakened discs. The downside, however, is that spurs can compress nerves, causing pain or tingling in your arm.

ONE herniated disc it can also cause a pinched nerve. When the hard outer layer of a spinal disc weakens and cracks, either due to aging or injury, the gel-like substance inside the disc can leak and put pressure on your spinal nerves, causing tingling in your arm.

Be aware of a pinched nerve in your neck it won’t always cause pain in your neck — tingling in your arm may be the only symptom.

If the tingling does not improve, a good next step is to consult your doctor. You’ll also want to call your doctor if you notice any weakness in your hands, fingers, or hand.

It is especially important to seek medical help if you experience numbness or tingling along your bicep and forearm to your thumb, or on the back of your arm, down your forearm to your middle finger. The tingling path down your arm can help indicate which spinal nerve is being compressed.

Your doctor may recommend:

2. Heart attack

During a heart attack, a coronary artery is completely or partially blocked, along with the nerves that supply the heart. This lack of blood flow can indirectly cause tingling or numbness in the left arm, he says Dr. Sean Ormondspecialist in invasive pain management at Atlas Pain Specialists.

Common signs of a heart attack include chest pain or pressure and shortness of breath. But heart attacks can also have subtle signs that can go unnoticed or be mistaken for other health concerns, especially in women and older adults. Other possible signs of a heart attack include:

  • Motion sickness
  • Indigestion
  • Cold sweats
  • Dizziness
  • Pressure or pain in the upper back

3. Type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes and persistently elevated blood sugar levels can cause peripheral neuropathy — damage to nerves outside the brain and spinal cord, Ormond says.

This type of nerve damage usually begins on legs and feet, but it can also affect your hands and arms as it progresses. Along with numbness and tingling, it can cause a burning sensation or sharp pain in your extremities.

It can have other serious consequences: If you can’t fully feel your hand, you may have trouble noticing changes in temperature, pain, or injuries that could lead to dangerous infections.

What to do next: To reduce your risk of peripheral neuropathy, you can:

You should seek immediate medical attention if you start to notice unusual tingling or numbness in your hands and feet, as early treatment can help prevent further nerve damage.

4. Transient ischemic attack (mini-stroke)

ONE transient ischemic attack (TIA)also called mini Strokemay cause temporary tingling in your extremities, including your left hand.

TIAs happen when a blockage temporarily cuts off blood flow to the brain. Unlike a stroke, which often has serious and long-lasting effects, the symptoms of a TIA usually last a few minutes—they come on suddenly and usually go away within an hour to a day.

Along with tingling, weakness, or numbness in your arm, a TIA can cause:

  • Correct or slurred speech
  • Difficulty understanding the speech of others
  • Balance issues and lack of coordination
  • Double vision, blurred vision or temporary loss of vision

If you experience symptoms of a TIA, you should call 911 or go to the emergency room immediately for evaluation.

Your doctor may prescribe blood thinners such as aspirin to help prevent blood clots can cause a stroke.

In some cases, your care team may recommend surgery to clear your carotid artery of plaques that can lead to stroke, either by:

  • Endarterectomy: The surgeon will make an incision, remove the plaques, and close the artery again.
  • Angioplasty: The surgeon will insert a small mesh tube, called a stentin the artery to keep it clear and open.

5. Carpal tunnel syndrome

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome it can develop due to compression of the median nerve, which gives sensation to parts of your hand.

“Carpal tunnel syndrome is usually caused by repetitive hand use such as manual labor, typing, excessive cell phone use or assembly line work,” says Candy.

With carpal tunnel syndrome, you will mostly feel tingling or numbness thumb, index and middle fingerusually on one side of your body, but you could also feel tingling and pain traveling down your forearm.

What to do next: A healthcare professional can diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome and recommend treatmentwhich may include:

  • A wrist support: When worn at night, a brace keeps your wrist straight, putting less pressure on the median nerve.
  • Steroid injections: Cortisone and other steroids can help reduce inflammation and swelling of the tendons in your wrist, which reduces compression of the median nerve.
  • Surgery: Carpal tunnel release, a short outpatient surgery, involves a surgeon cutting the ligament in the wrist that is compressing the median nerve — most people will return to their normal activities within four to six weeks.

6. Multiple sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is one autoimmune disease of the central nervous system – the brain and spinal cord – that affects almost one million people in the United States.

In MS, its damage and worsening myelin sheathor the lining of your nerves, can cause a wide range of symptoms. Tingling in your arm is often an early symptom — but unexplained tingling in your arm doesn’t always indicate MS.

With multiple sclerosis, you will likely also experience numbness and tingling your legs, torso and face — not just your left hand.

What to do next: It’s a good idea to make an appointment with a healthcare professional if you experience tingling in your arm along with others common initial symptoms of MS, such as:

  • Muscular weakness
  • Balance problems
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Vision problemsincluding blurred or double vision or loss of color vision, especially when these issues affect only one eye

There is no cure for multiple sclerosis. Treatment focuses on managing flare-ups with medications such as glucocorticoids and physical or occupational therapy to help maintain mobility and function. Medicines that modify the activity of the immune system can also help reduce inflammation and slow the progression of MS.

7. How do you sleep?

Tingling in your left arm may also be related to your sleeping position.

Certain sleeping positions can cause nerve compression in your arm or neck during the night. For example, this can happen if:

  • Sleep with your arm bent or your hand in a fist
  • Rest your head on your hand while you sleep
  • Sleep on your stomach
  • Sleep on your side without supporting your arm

What to do next: If you constantly wake up with your arm tingling, it might help to try a different sleeping position. To find a more comfortable sleeping position, try:

  • Keeping your hand on a pillow, instead of closing it into a fist
  • Sleep on your back, with your arms at your sides or on pillows. This is the best position to support nerves in your neck and arm that can cause tingling.
  • Sleep on your side with a pillow in front of you to support your arm and keep your wrist and fingers straight.
  • Placing a pillow under your knee on the side you face when sleeping on your stomach. This will take some of the pressure off your neck.

Packaged interior

Tingling in your left arm is a common sensation. If it happens now and then but goes away on its own, you probably have nothing to worry about.

However, you should pay attention to tingling in your arm that keeps coming back, occurs with other symptoms, or worsens over time.

This type of tingling can indicate an underlying health condition, so you’ll want to make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. They can help determine the cause of the tingling and offer more guidance on treatment options.

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