Arm Numbness, Tingling Hands and Fingers

NUMBNESS AND TINGLING IN THE ARM

Numbness means decreased, and tingling  unusual skin sensation. In this article, numbness and tingling in the arm, shoulder, hand or fingers are described. Read about numbness in both arms (hands) AND legs (feet).

Picture 1. Arm dermatomes
(A dermatome is a skin area, innervated by a single spinal nerve)
(Source: Wikimedia)

EVERYDAY CAUSES OF ARM NUMBNESS

Pressure Upon the Arm

Pressure upon the arm nerves or vessels causing numbness, tingling or temporary paralysis of the arm may result from:

  • Sleeping with the hand under the head
  • Sitting with the arm hanging over the back of a chair
  • Wearing straps or carrying a bag or rucksack
  • Inflated cuff during measuring blood pressure

Raising the Arms Above the Level of the Heart

Keeping the hand(s) above the level of the heart during work or sleep can prevent appropriate blood perfusion of the hands, and cause numbness, tingling or partial paralysis of the hand(s) within few minutes.

Cold

In cold weather, narrowing of the arteries in the hands and fingers can prevent appropriate blood supply and thus numbness, tingling, pain or temporary paralysis of the hands and fingers.

DISORDERS OF THE NECK (CERVICAL) SPINE

Cervical Disk Syndrome

Degenerative disc disease (DDD) or injury, like hyper-extension injury in car accidents (head moves rapidly toward the back), can result in bulging or herniated disc(s) pressing upon the cervical (neck) spinal nerves, thus causing symptoms of cervical disc syndrome:

  • Position/movement dependent pain, tingling or numbness in the neck, shoulders, upper back, arm, hand or fingers (when the roots of cervical spinal nerves are compressed)
  • Stumbling gait, difficulty with fine hand moves, tingling in the body or legs (when the cervical spinal cord is compressed)

Symptoms can appear immediately after the injury, or develop slowly over the weeks or months. Diagnosis is made by a CT or MRI of the neck spine. Therapy includes immobilization, cold therapy followed by heat therapy, cervical traction, analgesics, muscle relaxants, physical therapy or surgical decompression of the nerve roots or spinal cord.

Cervical Spondylosis

Cervical spondylosis is an age-related deformation of the cervical spine; deformed vertebra or discs can press upon the spinal cord or nerve roots in the neck and cause chronic symptoms, like in the cervical disc syndrome (see above).

INJURIES

Disorders of the Brachial Plexus

The brachial plexus is formed by the cervical nerves C5-C8 and thoracic nerve Th1. The plexus extends from the lower part of the neck to the armpit. From brachial plexus all main nerves to the arm (axillary, musculocutaneus, ulnar, radial, and median nerve) arise.

Brachial Plexus Injuries

Most of brachial plexus injuries usually occur in car, motorcycle and sport accidents, during birth, or in bullet or knife injuries. Symptoms and prognosis depend on the nerves involved and extent of an injury: nerve stretching, scar tissue (neuroma), partial or complete nerve rupture or tearing of the nerve from the spinal cord. A limp or paralyzed arm, severe pain and numbness, especially in the neck and shoulders, and weak arterial pulses in the arm are main symptoms.

Some brachial plexus injuries may heal without treatment. Many children who are injured during birth improve or recover by 3 to 4 months of age. Treatment of brachial plexus injuries includes physical therapy and, if necessary, surgery.

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

Thoracic outlet is the space between the collar bone (clavicle), first rib and corresponding ligaments through which nerves and vessels travel from the base of the neck toward the armpit. Thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS) results from a compression or extension of the subclavian artery or vein, or brachial plexus (nerves), commonly occurring in motorbike accidents, athletes, swimmers, weight lifters, etc. Symptoms include:

  • Muscle wasting at the base of the thumb, numbness, feeling of pins and needles, or pain in the shoulder, armpit, arm or hand (when nerves are compressed)
  • Pale, cool arm with weakened arterial pulse in the arm, numbness and pain (when vessels are compressed)

Radiation-Induced Brachial Plexopathy

Radiation-induced damage of the brachial plexus can follow radiotherapy of the chest, axillary region, thoracic outlet or neck. Symptoms may appear months to years after radiation therapy and include numbness, swelling, weakness or pain in the arm.

Broken Shoulder Blade

Shoulder blade (scapula) is the bone in the upper back that connects the collar bone (clavicle) and arm bone (humerus). Broken shoulder blade, usually from a car or motorbike accident, can result in pain,  swelling, bruising or deformation of the shoulder blade area, and weakness, numbness or tingling in the shoulder or arm.

Broken Arm, Wrist, Hand or Finger

Symptoms of broken arm (the arm bone - humerus, elbow, and bones of the forearm – radius and ulna) include:

  • Severe pain increasing with arm movement
  • Obvious deformity, swelling, tenderness and bruising over the site of bone fracture
  • Stiffness or inability to move your arm, hand or finger
  • Weakness, numbness or tingling in the arm, hand or fingers

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome or Ulnar Neuropathy

The ulnar nerve arises from the brachial plexus in the neck and travels under the collar bone, downside along the inner side of the upper arm, behind the inner part of the elbow (Latin cubitus), where it can be felt as a “funny bone” and then down to the wrist, hand and little and ring finger. Ulnar nerve entrapment usually results from an elbow injury or constant pressure upon the elbow, like in cyclists or typists.  Symptoms, known as cubital tunnel syndrome, include:

  • Pain on the inner side of the elbow or electric shock sensation after touching the elbow
  • The hand, ring and little finger are numb and falling asleep, especially after bending the elbow
  • Limited movements of the ring and little finger (“handlebar palsy” in cyclists)
  • Hand (on the little finger side) sensitivity to cold

Prevention of ulnar nerve entrapment is by avoiding excessive elbow use. Treatment includes special arm exercises, anti-inflammatory drugs, like ibuprofen, and wearing an elbow splint.

DISORDERS OF THE SPINAL CORD AND BRAIN

Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is a disease of an uncertain cause affecting the nerve tissue of the spinal cord, brainstem or brain. Symptoms can appear suddenly or gradually, “travel” among various body parts and include: numbness or tingling in one or both arms (or any other body part), blurred or double vision or blindness, weak or paralysed limbs, problems with urinating or defecating, difficulty maintaining balance, tiredness, etc. Symptoms can last from few weeks to several months, disappear completely and appear again, and, in general, worsen with time.

Diagnosis is with MRI of the brain and spinal cord, and examination of cerebrospinal fluid obtained by lumbar punction. Apart from treating symptoms, there is no treatment for multiple sclerosis at the time.

ACUTE BRACHIAL NEURITIS

Acute brachial neuritis is a rare, supposedly autoimmune inflammation of brachial plexus, occurring at any age, but primarily in young men. Symptoms include severe pain in the upper arms and shoulders, followed by numbness and weak reflexes; the disorder resolves in few months on its own.

WRIST DISORDERS

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS)

Carpal tunnel syndrome (Latin carpus = wrist) is a painful condition of the wrist, hand and fingers, caused by repetitive use of the wrist, or swelling of the tissues in the wrist, resulting in a pressure upon the median nerve. CTS is a common problem in assembly line workers, computer workers, musicians, mechanics, tennis players, etc. Bone spurs in rheumatoid arthritis, or fluid in hypothyroidism, kidney disease or menopause may also press on the median nerve. Symptoms usually start gradually and include:

  • Tingling or numbness in the  thumb, index, middle and ring finger and related part of the hand
  • Pain in the wrist, palm or forearm
  • Difficulty grasping small objects or gripping
  • Hand pain at night

Ganglion Cyst

Ganglion cyst (Greek ganglion = tumor, cyst = fluid filled sac) is a soft lump, usually appearing on the back of the hand in some people between 20-40 years of age. It is a noncancerous fluid filled sack arising from the tendon sheets or capsule of the joint from an unknown reason. Ganglion cysts may not be always seen from the outside. Gymnasts often have them. Symptoms include:

  • A soft lump or lumps of various size (may exceed an inch), on the back of the hand, inner side of the wrist, base of the finger, or on the last finger joint.
  • Pain or numbness in the wrist, hand or finger(s)

DISORDERS OF FINGER ARTERIES

Raynaud’s Disease

Raynaud’s disease is a painful finger condition due to spasms in the finger arteries. Disease may also affect toes or, rarely, nose, ears, lips and nipples. The cause is not known. Symptoms are triggered by cold (even short term cold like taking something from a freezer) or strong emotions, and appear in the following sequence:

  • Fingers (one, more or all in one or both hands) become pale, numb or cold due to lack of blood flow, then bluish due to a lack of oxygen, then red, with throbbing pain and tingling as blood returns to the affected area.
  • Attacks can occur daily, weekly or occasionally and can last from less than a minute to several hours, usually about 15 minutes. Different areas can be affected at different times. Severe, although rare, attacks can result in finger sores or tissue death (gangrene).

Raynaud’s Phenomenon

Raynaud’s phenomenon is a term used for the same finger symptoms as in Raynaud’s disease, when the cause is known. Causes include: connective tissue diseases, like scleroderma, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), Sjögren’s syndrome, dermatomyositis, and polymyositis, carpal tunnel syndrome, obstructive arterial disease, anti-hypertensive drugs, ergotamine (used for treating migraine), chemotherapeutic medications, etc.

In workers exposed to vinyl chloride, using vibrating tools, typists and pianists, Raynaud’s phenomenon also commonly occurs.

DIAGNOSIS OF ARM NUMBNESS OR TINGLING

History of arm numbness. Knowing an exact time course of tingling or numbness, and eventual arm weakness, head or legs involvement, history of arm or neck injuries, repetitive elbow or wrist use, reactions to cold, hypothyroidism, diabetes, menopause may give a strong evidence about the cause.

Neurological examination. Testing of sensitivity of a particular arm dermatome can reveal which nerves are involved.

Imaging. X-ray may reveal arthritis in the neck spine, or a broken arm bone. Myelography can reveal herniated disc or narrowed spinal canal. MRI and CT show soft tissues like tumors.

Electromiography (EMG) and nerve conduction studies can show the nature of the nerve damage. Together with imaging they are important to evaluate the extent of brachial plexus injury.

Blood tests can reveal diabetes, abnormalities in serum levels of sugar (diabetes), calcium, potassium, sodium, magnesium, vitamins B6 or B12, thyroxine (hypothyroidism), sex hormones (menopause).

Cold simulation test can reveal Raynaud’s disease or phenomenon.

TREATMENT OF ARM NUMBNESS OR TINGLING

Firstly, the cause of numbness should be treated if possible.

Non-steroid anti-rheumatic drugs like ibuprofen, or antidepressants, may relieve pain and numbness.

Rest and immobilization of the neck, shoulder, elbow, wrist, or the whole arm is sometimes necessary after an injury, or when joint movements contribute to nerve irritation, like in ulnar nerve entrapment or carpal tunnel syndrome.

Physical therapy may help when bones, articles and muscle tendons are involved. Physiotherapist may show you special exercises for each type of nerve disorder.

Effect of acupuncture, acupressure, TENS (Trans Cutaneous Nerve Stimulation) may be debatable. Certain ointments like capsaicin may temporarily relieve tingling, burning sensations.

PREVENTION OF ARM NUMBNESS OR TINGLING

The following may help to prevent arm and hand numbness:

  • Avoid putting the arm over the chair back to prevent permanent injury of brachial plexus
  • Avoid sleeping with the hand under the head, or with arms on the pillow
  • Avoid using mechanical screwdrivers
  • Do not rest your elbows on the desk for long periods of time, while working with a computer
  • Wear warm gloves at low temperatures

Related Articles:

References:

  1. Brachial plexus  (bartleby.com)
  2. Anatomy of the arm  (frca.co.uk)
About Jan Modric (249 Articles)
Health writer
  • Dee Dee

    Sorry, also swelling in legs and hands from time to time. Been tested for carpal tunnel but they couldn’t give me exact dx. Have dr’s appt coming up.

  • Jan Modric

    Dee Dee,

    symptoms from shoulders to fingers could be due to a disorder in the neck spine. There are a lot of causes of leg swelling, hard to say more from this plain desrciption.

  • sophiam1415

    1st was numbness on the left side of my face, my face was droopy then it spread to numbness of my left arm. Was admited to the ER on 2/12/10 and was diagnosed with epilipsy I was told that I had and abnormal electrical discharge on the right side of my brain that was causing the numbness with my face and arm.Was out on 200gm of carbatrol. Eversince then I have constant headaches and it has gone from bad to worse. Now I have numbness in my feet and on my right side both arm and face. Horrible head and neck pain. Dizziness and my hands are starting to tremble. I have no idea what is going on with me? Any ideas?

  • Jan Modric

    sophiam1415,

    carbatrol has side effects one possible side effect is headache. Epilepsy can have an organic cause in the brain, so you might want to discuss about these possibilities with your doctor. Numbness in all body parts could arise from the brain.

  • karanchauhan1

    Dear Jan, pls refer to my privious message-
    am having tickling and weekness feeling in both my arms since yesterday. I had a party and a lot of beer the day before and had other hangover symtoms with this tickling and weekness in my hands.
    The feeling is not very intense and has reduced a bit, but it is still their today as well.
    I dnt have any medical problem and im 26, though I do drink like twice a week 4-5 drinks.

    After this I got checked by a neurologist who conducted Nerve test (something with giving shocks), B6, B12, Diabities and blood pressure all was perfect and he declared me FIt and also the feeling went after 4-6 days.

    Over the last 10 days it has started to reoccure but with less intensity but also I have a slight neck pain

    I still drink but lesser then before, pls suggest what to do, or what to try

  • Jan Modric

    karanchauhan1,

    alcohol causes dehydration – even if it seems there’s a lot of water in the drink, after drinking, during hangover, you have less water in the body than before drinking. Dehydration can result in low blood presure and weakness and tickling sensations in hands. Alcohol itself can be toxic for the nerves, and if you are facing these problems, you may want to reduce amount of alcohol.

    Neck pain can be connected with tickling hands. A bulging or herniated disc or arthritis in the cervical spine can pinch the nerve(s) that supply the arms and hands and cause symptoms. Sometimes an imaging investigation (CT, MRI) of the neck is necessary to find the cause. A neurologist can say if physiotherapy would help. Prolonged sitting without a break can aggravate neck pain.

  • TheyCallMeRyan

    I’m 22 and have been having numbness and tingling in my right arm (elbow down), thumb, but mostly in my index finger. It started about a week ago and really bothers me in my sleep. One night I woke up and my entire hand felt asleep..like my blood circulation was cut off…I had to shake my hand to get the feeling back. When I extend my arm out, palm down, and rotate I really get a tingling sensation almost like if your entire arm was asleep. My index finger feels like swollen…it doesnt look swollen but when I touch it with my other hand it almost feels dead (if that makes sense)…I can still move it everything fine, no problems with any of that. When I press down on my finger…it almost feels sore a bit. I am worried though cause it doesnt seem to be going away. I’ve also been experiencing what feels like heart or chest pains on my left side…not horrible, maybe once or twice a day. Maybe it’s in my head but I’ll reach down and feel my heart and I can barely feel it (I’m a small guy and usually I can feel my heartbeat pounding no problem). Does any of this relate to a heart condition? Or is it just a nerve that’s pinched? I feel normal otherwise…I’m NOT feeling lightheaded or low on energy or anything…I’m just wondering if it has anything to possibly do with my heart not pumping enough blood to my arm cause I feel like my circulation on my right side isn’t right…

    Thanks for any help!

  • karanchauhan1

    Dear Jan
    Thanks for ur instant reply!
    SO nice that u sit and answer all our queries

    My pain has reduced n so has the tinkling but its still there, slightly, pls suggest if I SHd visit a nero, last time I went I end up having test worth almost $200 n everthing was fine, He suggested B12 n folic acid tablet though my levels were normal (after the test) shdould I have them or should I go to the nero again.

    Thanks again

  • gago

    Greetings Jan,
    Great site!! I’m a 59 year old male that has had tingling/numbness down my left arm and into my index finger (primarily) for the past 3+ weeks. Saw my PCP (a GP) last Tuesday and he had me take an x ray and gave me a perscription for diclofenac and cyclobenzapari as a muscle relaxant for sleeping. One of his nurses called on Friday with the results of the x-ray. Degenerative Disc Disease. Didn’t hear back from him before closing time Friday and have been left to stew over this for the weekend! Last night I got very hot (101 temp), my lower back area (kidneys) began throbing, and my heart/pulse began pumping quite strongly till 0230. I am also taking lisinopril (blood psi), protonix (acid reflux), and simvastatin (cholesterol). I have a neurologist I’m seeing for migrane’s/dizzyness. I’ll be seeing one or both of the dodctor’s next week concerning this but would appreciate your thoughts in the mean time. I’m wondering if the migraines could be tied in with this disc disease?? Thanks for your help Jan!!

  • gago

    Jan,
    Forgot to say that I stopped taking the diclofenac and cyclobenzapari today thinking there may be an interaction problem? Because of the fever, back pain, and racing heart/pulse I’m beginning to wonder if I may just be coming down with something unrelated to these medications??
    Thanks again!!

  • matbar84

    I cut my left palm open a few days ago. Today the cut hurts more than yesterday and I also started to have tingling sensation in both of my arms and hands as well as

  • Jan Modric

    TheyCallMeRyan,

    heart pain usually radiates into the left arm, and it’s a pain or tingling, not likely numbness. A nerve that supplies the arm below the elbow may be pinched in the cervical spine (like from a bulging disc) or in the wrist (carpal tunnel syndrome), for example. There still can be a problem with the heart, only I can’t say if it’s related to the right arm…A neurologist can tell more.

  • Jan Modric

    karanchauhan1,

    I do not know what is the cause of your symptoms, but one possibility is that you have a pinched nerve in the cervical spine, and symptoms are aggravated when you get dehydrated after drinking alcohol or otherwise. Vitamin B12 “normal level” has a wide range, and taking supplements in “low normal” level could be reasonable, if you already had payed for them. The same for folate.

    If symptoms mainly occur after drinking, this should be considered as the main trigger. If symptoms persist even after few weeks with no drinking, a cervical spine should be maybe considered as the cause (regarding you mentioned neck pain). In short: if symptoms seem to resolve, there’s probably no need to see a doctor now, but avoiding drinking and vigorous exercise and avoiding carrying heavy objects may provide enough rest for your spine and nerves.

  • Jan Modric

    gago,

    numbnes in the index finger may be from degeneration disc disease (DD) in the neck. Migraine has a lot of possible triggers, stress (physical, psychological) is one of them..diseases and medications can contribute to stress…Dehydration, hypoglycemia, skiping meals, and other migraine triggers may be involved. DDD could also contribute. Fever with throbbing in kidneys and racing heart could be from urinary infection, for example, – urine test would reveal it. You can think, if you had change any medication combination on the day with the fever and discuss about all with an urologist.

  • Jan Modric

    matbar84,

    to prevent complications, I recommend you to see a doctor as soon as possible.

  • joyjoy

    my mom is constantly feeling numbness in both arms especially at night. We thought it was carpal tunnel but I think it probably is related to a pinched nerve. She is very stubborn and continues to work even though we encouraged her to rest her arms and stretch. Her doctor indicated it might be partially carpal tunnel and gave her cortisone injections in her wrist a few times, but that only relieved the pain and numbness for a few days. She has interrupted sleep due to numbness and has to wake up and swing her arms back and forth. I’d like to take her to see a specialist, but don’t know where to start. Any suggestions on what might be causing this and who I should take her to see to get this corrected?

  • Jan Modric

    joyjoy,

    they are a neurologist and orthopedist that deal with numbnes in the arm. In carpal tunnel syndrome, symptoms are mostly from wrists to fingers (thumb and index), and in a pinched nerve in the cervical spine the whole (or a part) of the upper limb from the shoulder to (any) fingers can be affected.

    Carpal tunnel syndrome may be caused, for example, by arthritis (she would be likely aware of it) or from wrists overuse, and a wrists rest is the first required measure. A cervical disorder resulting in a pinched nerve can be diagnosed by a CT or MRI of the neck.

  • Natalia

    I am a 34 year old female.I started using Zoloft recently for depression and anxiety.I did have a low B12 count several months ago.I went for test after extreme tingling in the face and scalp would not leave!I also have severe PMS and started a progesterone tablet daily with the Zoloft.My emotions seemed to have stabilized but I still have tingling in the face and ears during the day or when I am teaching.I do not kbow if its serotonin,low progesterone or B12.I take a sublingual B12 daily.Not sure if I should just increase the dosage of B12?It has been a trying time and thank goodness I feel loads better.Not as sleepy,memory is better.It’s just the darn tingling and earache in my right ear which comes and goes and pains even I walk on a windy day!!! Any advice???Please help!!!!

  • Jan Modric

    Natalia,

    low vitamin B12 levels can be easily improved by vit B12 injections. Eventual low levels of other vitamins (folate?) or minerals (iron?) can also result in tingling. Hypoglycemia and dehydration are next two common causes.

    Earache my be caused by some other disorder, which could also contribute to tingling, so you may consider to visit an ENT doctor.

  • Rickeoo

    I wake up every morning for the last two months with my left arm hurting from elbow to hand and fingers,some numbness,tingling, and swelling in fingers,I can sit up for about 20 minutes and pain goes away, I fall back asleep and wake up 30 minutes later hurting again,no pain through the day.I started blood pressure medicine about three months ago [exforge 320mg-5mg} and was curious if this could be the cause or is it something else probaly causing this. Doctor says its not the blood pressure medicine, but I’ve read alot on the internet saying this medication can cause carpel turnel. Sorry for the spelling. Thanks in advance for any reply.

  • Jan Modric

    Rickeoo,

    exforge can, among other symptoms, cause swelling of joints, hands, feet, which could result in tingling. So, yes, carpal or cubital (at elbow) tunnel syndrome are possible, even if not mentioned with these terms. You can search for exforge side effects on drugs.com and print the page and show it to the doctor. I cannot say that this is the actual cause in your case, since you do not mention any other circumstances (injury, exercise, arthritis?).

  • Jacisipmac

    Hi, I’m a 23 y/o Male 5’4” 125lbs.

    I’ve been experiencing some strange neurological symptoms lately and it has me fairly worried. I also think I’m a hypochondriac. Since this started I’ve been having extreme anxiety and I can’t stop myself from self-diagnosing (Brain Tumor, Spinal Tumor, ridiculous things based on my mundane symptoms.) Hence here I am on the internet looking for advice.

    I have an appt. with my primary care doc on Tuesday to discuss my anxiety and the following symptoms, but wanted to make sure this wasn’t more urgent as I have to go out of town Thursday-Sunday with my band and would hate to keel over on stage…

    A few weeks ago I was suffering a “strange,” feeling in my right groin area, and occasional twinges in my right abdomen. No noticable lumps on testes or scrotum or in inguinal area. It subsided.

    Earlier this week I was suffering dull nagging extreme low back ache that extended into the right buttock and hip and what seemed to be some mild muscle weakness in my right leg (like I had been working out or was sick or dehydrated). It doesn’t effect daily activities like stair climbing, walking, or lifting, my calf, quad, and ankle just seem tired or stiff- I dont know… weird.

    The condition seemed to be worse after standing for a long period of time and was bothering me yesterday during work. I took some Ibuprofen and the ache seemed to fade away but before I got off work I started experiencing strange feelings in my arm, It started out as a sensitive area under and outside of my right shoulder blade and traveled down the back of my upper arm, the outside of my forearm and to my wrist, outside palm and little finger. kind of tingly, but not like it’s “asleep,”.

    I just can’t stop freaking myself out. I’ve never had any neurological problems. I feel like I’m dying! Like I need to dive into an MRI machine right this instant. I’m trying to stay calm and wait for my appt. Tuesday but I’m finding it increasingly difficult. Now i have a little catch in my neck that causes a bit of a shooting pain, very mild, on the left side of the back of my neck near my skull and only every now and then.

    I think I’ve successfully convinced myself that brain cancer is trying hard to end me while I type this.

    I have no other alarming symptoms.
    No mood changes (the paranoia and hypochondria aren’t new I did this a few months ago when I thought I was having heart episodes.) no loss of bladder or bowel control, vision or hearing problems, headaches, numbness, no weakness other than the weird feeling I described earlier.

    Just strange feelings in my right arm and right leg.

    I guess I’m really just begging for qualified reassurance. That I’ll survive the weekend and be able to talk to my regular doctor on Tuesday.

    Even that this is an emergent situation and I need to seek help Immediately would be better than not knowing. I think…

    Please help,
    Jason.

  • Jan Modric

    Jacisipmap,

    One likely explanation is that all described symptoms arise from the spine. A pinched nerve(s) in the neck can cause symptoms in the neck and in the arm/hand. A pinched nerve(s) in the lumbar spine can cause symptoms in the lower right abdomen and groin, and in the leg. Prolonged standing typically aggravates symptoms in the leg, which are collecivelly known as “sciatica” (from affected sciatic nerve). All mentioned symptoms may be aggravated by lifting heavy objects, prolonged sitting or standing, or sleeping “the wrong way”. Such symptoms in most cases arise from bulging or herniated discs (as the part of degeneration disc disease – DDD, which is common even in young people) or spinal arthritis (spondylitis).

    Diagnosis of spinal disorders can be made by CT or MRI (X-ray is not enough), ordered by a neurologist or orthopedist. A doctor can then say, if physiotherapy can help, and physiotherapist can recommend some exercises.

    I can’t exclude other neurological disorders from here, but symptoms in brain tumor or multiple sclerosis, for example, do not likely change with body position, or prolonged standing.

  • wlkent67

    Last night I woke up w/ severe stomach cramps—I have been diagnosid w/ IBS—I was very sick to my stomach cause the pains were so bad–sweating alot—then my arms and legs started tingling—and then my fingers on both hands started cramping up like I was paraliyzed—this has never happened to me before–and I do suffer alot from stomach problems and diarraha—It really scared me–after about 10 minutes it went away—please let me know what this was and should I be concerned????
    Thanks
    wendi kent

  • susie

    one night while i was sleeping…i feel asleep on my right arm. the pain woke me up. since then my arm and hand falls asleep at all hours of the day. numbness and tingling occur.my arm continues to fall asleep even when im not leaning or laying on it. my left arm is starting to fall asleep as well but my right arms hurts the most. squeezing or putting pressure on my arm and fingertips is the quick solution. but it comes back hours later

  • Jan Modric

    Wendi Kent,

    with a repeating diarrhea quite some potassium can be lost – this could be one possible cause for tingling in the arms and legs, and cramps in fingers and in the bowel itself. Dehydration is also possible. You can discuss with the doctor about dehydration, mineral imbalance and the basic blood tests.

  • Jan Modric

    susie,

    telling when have you slept on your arm and how far up to the arm(s) you feel the tingling could explain the situation a bit more. Symptoms relief after squeezing the arms (?) and putting pressure on fingertips speak for a pressurte on the nerves somewhere in the arm (check for cubital or carpal tunnel syndrome above in the article). Sleeping on the arm sounds lik a trigger of symptoms, but the real cause seems to be an underlying condition, like arthritis or swelling in the wrists…

  • galleon

    My knuckles and toes and ankles first started getting red and swelling a few months ago and my doctor said I had osteoarthritis but I’m only 34 yrs old. Then my fingers and toes started tingling and became numb. When I work (in construction) sometimes I’ll look down and I’ll be bleeding all over because I have hit a knuckle or have a splinter and not realized it. I’ve been sweating alot and am weak and stiff. I don’t think arthritis does this?

  • Jan Modric

    galleon,

    another form of arthritis – rheumatoid arthritis – does occur in young age, and can cause swelling and redness and stiffness in small joints. A rheumatologist should be able to give a diagnosis.

  • KRB

    Over the past 2-3 weeks, I have woken up 2-3 times to have either my entire left or right arm numb.

    I have had periods of time throughout my life where my hand would be numb, and it would take a few minutes to get the feeling back.

    With these recent episodes, though, the feeling comes back almost immediately after I reposition (although the shock of the situation resulted in me getting out of bed each time — it really is a weird feeling to have the total arm numb). I have not noticed any other numbness throughout the day. When it happens I am numb from the shoulder down, and it will go away (without the usual tingling effect) in 3-5 seconds. Could this just be sleeping to long in one position?

  • Jan Modric

    KRB,

    yes, numbness in the arm could be from certain sleeping positions. If the problem worsens with time, you can consider to visit a neurologist, since a bulging disc in the cervical spine, for example could be an underlying disorder.

  • tiim

    Hi there,
    Over the past few weeks my right hand has a like weird sensation in it, mainly the wrist and back of hand. Sometimes it radiates over to my left but not that often, sometimes to my right foot as well. It used to come and go but now its here pretty much all the time. The sensation sort of makes my hand feel weak and is a mix between a sort of ache and tingle. Its starting to worry me now and i cant get in to see my GP for 2 weeks and wondered on your thoughts, just so i could have a bit of inside knowledge before i see the doc. All i can seem to find on the net is either, brain tumour(which scares me the most to be honest as i had a lung cancer scare a few month back), carpell tunnell syndrome and anxiety or MS.

  • tiim

    Also jan my left elbow or arm is pretty stiff and when i touch into the tops of my shoulders there is a sharp pain but only when i press it

  • Jan Modric

    tiim,

    brain tumor is usually a one-side lesion and so are its body symptoms; also in brain tumor, the shoulder would not likely be tender to touch.
    Next, anxiety itself does not likely cause a weakness or sharp pain in the limbs. Multiple sclerosis rarely causes pains in limbs.

    Likely causes include:
    - spinal arthritis or bulging disc(s) resulting in pinched spinal nerves that innervate the arms and legs
    - fibromyalgia
    - arthritis
    - carpal tunnel syndrome (but this does not explain symptoms in the legs). CPS itself has to ba caused by something: wrist overuse, arthritis…Another possibility is a cubital tunnel syndrome, in which an ulnar neve is affected at the spot where it passes behind the elbow (due to leaning to elbows, overuse or injury).

    I can’t exclude any cause from here, but a neurologist can.

  • sgterry

    Hello
    My left hand was broken about 10 years ago. Now the doctor said it did not heal well. Now when I excerise in the pool and my hand and arm will go numb when I go beyond 5 feet. So I walked up to 4 to 3 feet and the numbness will began to go away. I notice this alot, I am 6’0 and weight 350lb, could my weight and the level of water cause this. Could this be a mini stroke?

  • Jan Modric

    sgterry,

    the bone that has “not heal well” sounds like a possible cause. Symptoms in stroke are constant and in mini stroke (TIA) they go away within 24 hours and are not likely affected by the body movements in the way you’ve described it. Increased body weight can have other consequences with time, like arthritis and heart problems.

  • lyham

    Hello,

    I hit my elbow really hard approximately one month ago (I think I hit the nerve that’s called the “funny bone” because my entire forearm, hand and fingers went numb immediately after hitting it) and now it seems to be extremely sensitive – whenever I touch my inner elbow, the palm of my hand and my fingers go numb/get a tingling sensation and those sensations will remain for a few minutes. The affected elbow also feels swollen compared to my other elbow – or at least something in the area around the inner elbow is swollen. Any ideas and/or recommendations about what may be causing these symptoms?

  • Jan Modric

    lyham,

    your symptoms seem to arise from an injured ulnar nerve or from swollen tissues pressing upon the nerve. This is called cubital tunnel syndrome. I suggest you to see a neurologist, since long lasting pressure on the nerve might cause its permanent damage.

  • BerkBird

    Recently I bought a new desk that sits pretty high. My chair doesn’t quite measure up so I ordered a much higher sitting chair. Anyhow, ever since this desk, my right hand, specifically my pinky and middle fingers feel funny. They are almost numb and aren’t as easy to control. It looks exactly the same as my left hand and figure once the new chair gets here and I sit up higher, it’ll be better.

    The problem is this has lasted about two weeks and doesn’t seem to subside when I do other activities away from the desk or sleep. It gets better but doesn’t go away. Is this a pinced nerve as my middle, index finger and thumb aren’t affected? It feels almost if you bite down on your pinky finger and get that numb sensation.

  • Shine777

    I’ve been having a numbness, heavy, slight tingling feeling in both arms from shoulders down, off & on for about 2 weeks. It comes and goes. Also I have been having stiffness and aching in legs and ankles after sitting or laying for even short periods of time. That goes away fairly quickly after I start moving around. I have pain somedays in the area that my legs go into my body and I am sore to the touch over different parts of my body–lower & upper back and upper arms. I am tired for no reason some days. Have been having gallbladder (not working properly–no stones) issues since Dec and am scheduled for GB removal this coming Thursday. I take Toprol XL & Norvasc to regulate my heartbeat and BP runs around 90/65 now–used to be a straight 120/80–has never been high. I also take Nexium for symptoms of Gerd. Had a slightly herniated disc(L5)in my back (not severe enough for surgery) 2 years ago and hurt down right hip and leg for almost 2 years–now I only hurt occasionally. Sometimes my whole upper body seems to tighten/tense up and I have to tell myself to “relax”. I have experienced most of these symptoms for quite some time but the arm thing is new. I am 46 and I do smoke–used to smoke heavily but am down to about 15 a day. Last period was Dec 09 but all hormone levels are normal. I do have a burning aching pain off and on in right side ovary area that goes straight through me from front to back. All of my problems seem to be on the right side–I tell my Husband that if I could just be cut in half, all would be good because the left side feels normal. Does any of this add up to anything to you? They just seem like crazy all over the map symptoms to me–at least the gallbladder will be gone after Thursday….Thanks for your time :)

  • Jan Modric

    BerkBird,

    pinky and ring (?) finger are affected in cubital tunnel syndrome – where the ulnar nerve is affected on the site where it passes the inner side of the elbow, possibly by leaning the elbow upon the desk. Elbow injury or overuse, like in tennis or repeating elbow movements can also be a cause.

  • Jan Modric

    Shine777,

    spinal arthritis (spondylitis), degeneration disc diseases (DDD), rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia are some possible causes of pains and stiffness in the limbs. Gallbladder pain can radiate into the back and right shoulder. After the surgery, you will see, if any of pains will go away. Symptoms worse on the right side suggest pinched spinal nerves from mentioned spinal disorders.

  • ali

    Over the past month I’ve had numbness in my right arm on and off. It has been constant this past week. I also have neck pain where the base of my neck joins my head. In addition, I have spells of nausea and lightheartedness. I had a Brain MRI and CT. Both are normal. Neck CT showed a few bone spurs classified as normal. The neck MRI showed mild arthritis and classified as normal. Any recommendations or advice?

  • quackidoo

    I had my son by c-section 9/09 and soon afetr started having numbness in my legs when I would sit on the floor to play with him. my feet would get tingly and then my toes and fingers began to draw together and my lips and nose went numb. I felt like I had a rubber band holding my fingers together and then to my wrist. In November 09 it got so bad that thougth I had had a stroke or something and went to the ER and they ran labs and found I was dangerously low in magnesium potassium and calcium. I was in the hospital for 3 days and have not had problems since. they could not explain why my kidneys were suddenly not functioning, but I later found out the exact same thing happened to my friend who had had gastric bypass surgery.

  • tingly

    approx. 4 months ago, tried to move the sofa to clean the window. I felt something pull between shoulder blade and stopped. then a month later i noticed weakness in both arms and intermittent aching hands. now both hands are numb and my neck and shoulders hurt. I have had 2 laminectomies L5-S1 30 yrs ago and L4-L5 20 yrs ago.

  • Jan Modric

    ali,

    if a doctor says, spinal chenges are normal (meaning, by his opinion should not cause any problems) it still doesn’t mean arthritis is not the cause of your pains in the neck and right arm. There could be some additional pressure on the arm nerves where these pass the clavicle and enter the armpit (thoracic outlet syndrome). A CT or MRI of that area could show more. I would ned to know more circumsatnces to comment your nausea and lightheartedness (pains in the chest?, symptoms related to meals?).

  • Jan Modric

    quackidoo,

    yes, when numbness affects the face, causes other than spinal disorders should be checked. Mineral deficiences after bypass surgery occur quite often.

  • Jan Modric

    tingly,

    as you probably already guessed, this could be from a bulging/herniated disc in the cervical spine resulting in pinched nerves.

  • Lynne

    I have been suffering from back pain for about a year now, not severe just annoying. The severity can increas and decrease, or subside altogether from time to time. (Lower left back pain that runs down my hip, butt, and sometimes leg). I also suffer from neck pain, usually on the left side. It’s more of a dull ache than a sharp pain. However this comes and goes as well.

    The past few months I have been noticing a strange sensations in my left foot and calf. It’s sometimes tingles depending on my standing position and what type of shoes I’m wearing. My left hand and arm also has a strange sensation sometimes, and it has been more prone to falling asleep at night. Sometimes its just my left pinky and ring finger. When I wake up, I am able to “shake” it awake.

    My job requires standing and lots of walking. Needless to say I am on my feet 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, and this makes my back very exhausted. Is it possible that I could have multiple areas of pinched nerves in the neck and back? Or hurniated Discs? I don’t think it’s a tumor or MS, because my symptoms change depending on standing, sitting, walking, and sleeping position. Is there any alarming symptom that I should look for that would indicate it’s not a pinched nerve?
    -one more thing to add, I do have a mild case of scoliosis.

  • Jan Modric

    Lynne,

    like you’ve said, multiple pinched nerves in the lumbar and neck spine are possible. All symptoms you’ve described may appear in “sciatica”. They can be bulging/herniated discs, or spinal arthritis which result in pinched nerves. An ortopedist can give you a diagnosis.

    In multiple sclerosis, symptoms move, appear and disappear without any apparent reason. In MS, brain tumor, stroke or other disorders affecting brain, symptoms often appear in the face. Clogged leg arteries would cause pain during walking and would disappear during sitting…