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
  • Jan Modric

    farid 007,

    do you have any chronic disease, like diabetes? Anything special happened two weeks ago?

  • Larry

    Just lately I’ve been experiencing tingling or numbness down my right arm from my shoulder all the way down to my ring and small fingers. The numbness runs underneath my arm then runs on top of the forearm to my fingers. If I put my hand on a desk to do computer work my whole hand and arm goes numb. I have not been injured and I’m only on the computer for 2 or 3 hrs per day. What could be my problem or what course of action do I need to take?

  • janmodric

    Larry,

    tingling/numbness in 4th and 5th finger and all the way up to the shoulder after placing forearm (elbow) on the table speaks for an involvement of the ulnar nerve. Besides pressure upon the elbow, a disorder in the cervical spine can be a cause. I recommend you to visit a neurologist or orthopedist.

  • JODY D.

    Hello there Jan, I was involved in an airplane incident turbulance, about a year and a half ago. I was lurched from a sitting position to the ceiling and then slammed down to the floor, then back to the ceiling and the floor again, like a “Rag Doll”. The impact effected the entire right side of my body. After a litany of examinations (including 11 MRI’s many X-rays and CT’s) I am experiencing numb and tingling hands and toes, extremely ice cold hands and feet. The fingers (thumb, index and middle fingers) feel like they are “broken”. It hurts to put them in my pockets and have no strength anymore. When I rise out of bed in the AM or after sitting, I almost fall to the floor, with extreme pains in the bottom of my feet. I am now breaking out in an itchy rash with welts and hair loss on my calves from the knees down to my ankles and neck down to waist on the backside of my body. My skin on my hands and feet swell and look shiny at times, the turn white, red and blue at times. There is also an arched shaped red rash on my upper chest. I was also put into the ER December 08 for Heart Palpitations, which occur even to Today when I feel stress.
    Here is a list so far of my diagnosis’s:
    -Sciatica, both legs.
    -Closed fracture of one rt. Rib.
    -Sacral FX x 2, Lumar Radiography.
    -Heart Palpitations, last week at Dr.’s office Heart Beat at 140.
    -Hip Strain/Sprain.
    -Fracture of Upper End of Humerus, Cl.
    -Rt.Rotator Cuff Impingement and Strain possible Internal Derangement.
    -Significant Axial Loading Injuries of the Cervical, Thoracic and Lumbar Spine.
    -Herniated Cervical Discs C4-5, C6-7.
    -Stenosis and Herniation at C5-6 and a Herniation to the right at C6-7.
    -Cervical Root Irritation.
    -Strains of entire Cervical Spine.
    -Bulging Discs of Cervical Arena.
    -Mild Anterior Wedging that is Chronic in nature, with some Disc space narrowing also seen in Mid Thoracic region T6,7 and 8.
    -Thoracic Chronic Compression Deformities.
    -2 levels of Compression Fractures at T6 and T8.
    -Arrhythmias T6-T8.
    -Decrease in Height of the Intervertebral Discs at T7-8 and T8-9.
    -Thoracic Spine with a Wedge.
    -Lumbar Disc Herniation.
    -3 Bulging Lumbar Discs.
    -Pubic Rami Fractures (Pelvic) front and rear.
    -Nerve Slowing to both Hands (NCD Test). Median Distal Motor Latency at the wrist, upper limits 3.8 ms.
    -Carpal Tunnel Syndrome with positive Tinsel’s, some Sensory Diminishment to the Thumbs Bilaterally.
    -Bilateral Neuropathy to the hands, possible Carpel Tunnel Syndrome, possibly related to the Cervical Spine.
    -Raynauds Phenomenon discussed possible RSDS/CRPS.
    -Bilateral Plantar Fasciitis.
    -Depression.

    Jan I need help in coming to a conclusion as to what is going on with me. I feel my body getting weaker by the day. As I type this I can’t feel my 2 index fingers and my hands are ice cold. yesterday I went for another NCD with an EMG test and the Dr. said I only have a mild Carpal Tunnel in my left wrist???
    About a year ago, a Doctor, a friend said it looks like a possible Brachial Plexus injury (rash, etc…)and the Dr.’s since do not believe this to be true. I realize everyone involved, including myself is trying to figure out what is wrong.
    I have not had any operations to date, but know that they will be coming in my future.
    Jan, any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Jody

  • janmodric

    JODY D.,

    if I get you right, all what you have written above is confirmed by appropriate tests?

    Comment:
    Symptoms in arms/fingers can be caused by injuries in the neck spine and brachial plexus.
    Sciatica means irritation of sciatic nerve, possibly caused by disorders in the lumbar spine. Pain, tingling, weakness, skin color changes, cold limbs can all result from mentioned spinal disorders.
    Plantar fasciitis can result from direct injury of the feet and will likely need to be treated separately.
    Palpitations can arise from injury of symphatetic nerves for the heart that originate in the thoracic part of “sympathetic plexus”.

    It looks that a team of doctors, probably a neurologist and orthopedist will need to make a good plan to make operations in your spine (and maybe shoulder and feet), one by one.

  • JODY D.

    Hello again, I forgot to mention that I get really bad headaches on occasion and I can actually feel a grinding in my mid back spinal area. At times when I am showering (with difficulty…lol) and I am facing the warm water, I get an icy feeling, like somone is pouring ice water on my back. On occasion, I feel spasms to different parts of my body.
    thanks again…Jody

  • JODY D.

    Thanks so very much Jan, Yes all of the tests done so far were written verbatim diagnosis’s. I will ask my Orthopedic Doctor to send me to a Neurologist asap. I have moved and do not have one here. I understand that this will be a long road to travel.
    thank-you for letting me “pick” your brain.
    Jody

  • janmodric

    Jody,

    most of these complaints can be related to spinal disorders you’ve mentioned precisely. Such injuries can be often successfully treated by surgery.

  • VickiG

    Hi Jan, I have been experiencing right hand and arm pain, numbness and tingling for about 2 months now. It started with my fingers “spliting” and bleeding and with a very painful sensation to heat and cold. Then my hand began hurting, getting numb and tingling. Now it is going up my right arm and is hurting constantly. Any suggestions? Thank you.

  • Jan Modric

    VickiG,

    it sounds serious. I recommend you to visit your doctor right away — it can be an infection, vascular disorder…no point to discuss here, if I can not provide any treatment.

  • JR

    About four years ago I woke up with both hands like they were on fire and extreme tingling. Never had this problem before. Ever since both hands continue to tingle except for one whole 24 hr period 3 years ago where the tingling like a miracle disapeared but the tingling returned the following day and has been with me everyday. Now in the last 15 days my hands get cold very easily, find myself using gloves to keep them warm around the house,also find my heart is beating very fast quite often but returns to normal,keeps repeating cycle. One week ago stopped drinking coffeinated drinks and over the counter allergy sanus medications.Everything is continuing. Any suggestions on what is going on?

  • Jan Modric

    JR,

    I recommend you to visit a neurologist. It could be a problem in your cervical spine or a neurological problem affecting your heart, or a heart problem. Blood test would reveal if you have normal levels of vitamin B12, iron and glucose.

  • JR

    To Jan Modric: Thanks for your very ethical, professional medical advice.

  • SistaC

    Hi, Lately I have been having some pain and numbness in my left shoulder/arm area. I use my arm working. So I think this is coming from work. There is also another co-worker that complains of both her arms and fingers. Right now it is just the arm. I tend to pop my neck but not as much as I use to. I have no other injuries/surgeries.
    What do you think this is?

  • Jan Modric

    SistaC,

    in repeating arm use, numbness can arise from a pinched nerve in the cervical spine (bulging disc) or shouder area (thoracic outlet syndrome) — read more above in the article.

    A neurologist can decide, which investigations might be necessary. Some rest and exercises, as instructed by a physiotherapist, may help.

  • Flea

    Hello, I have just read many posts and wanted to share my story. 20 years ago, when I was in 1st year university, I had started getting sharp shooting pain in my thumb. Nothing I could physically see, nor feel where the pain was coming from. Then it the pain started to move into my index finger and in the area between the thumb and index finger, up my forearm and eventually into my armpit and my right jaw area. This is the short version but basically for 10 years, I suffered a lot and had every test in the book, except an MRI. In fact, I almost had a Dr. perfom surgery for Thoracic outlet syndrome(he did not send me for an MRI fyi)When I was pregnant with my first child, the pain was so severe I begged them to induce me 2 weeks early. During that time, I had gone to see a PT who suggested that I get an MRI. A month after my son was born, I went for an MRI and it showed I had a shwannoma in the brachial plexus. By the 10th year, my Right hand was always HOT, burning, and I had pretty much become a hermit because I couldnt go out anywhere with out an icepack attached to my hand.My Veins were very enlarged and very very painful, especially the vein that run on the inner side of the lower arm, from the wrist. I had the tumor removed and after about 6 months, slowly my symptons went away. I still have an unusual sensation in the area where the tumor was removed(it was benign btw) but for the most part, I have been able to lead a normal life for the past 10 years.
    My point is, that if you have unexplained pain, and you feel it is nerve or even vein pain, request an MRI.
    Save yourself a lot of waisted time! If my original Dr. had sent me for an MRI in the earlier years, it would have saved me a lot of pain and suffering!
    All the best!
    Felicia

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  • JR

    Now, this needs to be investigated!Interesting….found out that my hands stopped being cold 5 days AFTER I TOTALLY STOPPED EATING POTATOES! I rarely eat potatoes but someone gave me a free 10 pd. bag and went on a binge. Any scientific reasons to this??

  • Jan Modric

    JR,

    you have reported that cold hands started about March 5th and now stopped. The feeling of cold is mediated from hands to brain where it is interpreted. If there is any disorder along the nerves that supply the hands (in your case probably in the cervical spinal cord or above), tingling, burning, pain and various temperature sensations can appear. A slight change in this disorder can result in a change of one or more symptoms. If cold hands were a symptom of an allergy to potatoes, you would likely notice other symptoms of an allergy, like tingling lips, itchy skin, hives, diarrhea.

  • Joan

    For the last two months I have been experiencing some very strange pain in my arms – most of the time my right arm. There is a constant pain/burning in my right upper arm- that extends to my elbow, down to my middle finger.My arm feels numb at times-like I fell asleep on it and I sometimes have sharp pain when I lift it, or reach for something. Overall I have not felt well either (tired, boughts of diarrhea). My dr. did ‘basic’ blood tests, tests for arthritis, x-rays, and they were negative. I am a bit concerned as last year I was diagnosed with Ehrlichiosis which I was treated for. I also was diagnosed with Shingles last year. I have Epstein Barr, and had a bad round of mono 5 years ago. My dr. wants me to have an EMG but I have a feeling this could be of a viral nature.
    Any suggestions as to what type of dr. I should pursue this with, and what the problem could be?

  • Jan Modric

    Joan,

    have you had stool tests for bacteria and parasites? Have you had white or colorless stools?

    Symptoms in the arm, aggravated by moving the arm, are usualy from a disorder in the cervical spine (in discs or vertebra). CT or MRI would be needed; X-ray can show only rough changes in bones. Shingles are also possible. A neurologist should check your arm.

    Supposedly, some immunity develops after ehrichiosis, lasting for 1 year or more…Is there anything what reminds you to ehrlirhiosis?

    Do you have elevated EBV antibodies? Are some of them of IgM type? IgG type antibodies often persist for prolonged time after mono and they usually mean only that an infection has occured in the past.

    I recommend you to visit a neurologist, and to have stool tests.

  • Jes

    Hi, I woke up today and my left hand felt numb but only half of it,my pinky and ring finger. Also, I stretched out my leg and I got a really strong pain in my calf. Then a little while ago by hand started to quiver a little. I thought the numbness would go away but it still hasn’t. I’m starting to also feel it a bit on my elbow. I don’t have any injuries and don’t have any illnesses that I’m aware of. Is something wrong with me? or am I just being paranoid? I also felt really dizzy last week, and it felt unusual because I never usually feel that way. Is that even relevant to what’s happening to my hand?

  • Jan Modric

    Jes,

    all what you have written is relevant. I suggest you to visit a neurologist. Here is a personal medical history questionnaire that may help you prepare for the appointment. All your problems may be symptoms of a neurological disorder. Even if your symptoms lessen, I recommend you to visit a doctor. Dizziness and numbness from no apparent reason is not normal.

  • haycasso1

    Hi. i am 25 week pregnant and a few weeks ago, started to experience tingling and numbness in my right hand, from my little finger half way through my ring finger.
    I have done some research and found that it could be Carpal Tunnel Syndrome but yesterday, I started to get a pain in my right wrist, forearm then spread to my upper arm and arm pit.
    If this is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (midwife due to visit for a diagnosis hopefully Monday) will I still have it when my baby is born?

    Thanks for reading.

    Hay.

  • chrisd

    I lift weights 4 days a week. Over the last two months a growing amount of pain developed around my left elbow to the point where I had to stop. Took 2 weeks off and went back even though the pain did not go away. I’ve lightened the load on that arm in the hopes that it will get better, it hasn’t and now i wake up with numbness and thingling in my arm and hand. Of course I should see a doctor but is there anything I can do on my own?

  • Jan Modric

    Hay,

    symptoms affecting both hands/arms often arise from the spinal cord, like from a bulging/herniated disc. It could be related to pregnancy (change in posture). I recommend you to visit a doctor to get a reliable diagnosis.

  • Jan Modric

    chrisd,

    yes, you can stop weightlifting. There can be a repeating pressure on the nerve, either in your cervical spine or in the elbow.

  • haycasso1

    I did think, initially, before I read about CTS, that it could be spinal, or the baby putting pressure on a nerve.
    But then i also read that swelling wrist tissue can cause these symptoms. Although my wrists are not overly big anyway.
    But yes, I think I should see the doctor, rather than wait for my midwife. For piece of mind.. and a pain free nights sleep also.

    thanks alot for your reply.

    Brilliant site, fast response too.

  • ookk

    Hi, I’m 29/f, 5’8″, 228lbs (have lost 26lbs since Christmas due to change in diet and exercise). I have hypothyroidism, but it’s regulated with Synthroid. I don’t have diabetes, high blood pressure or anything like that. My cholesterol was a little high, but has dropped to normal since my lifestyle changes. My triglycerides have been high (last checked 160), but my Endocrinologist says they will decrease as I continue with my lifestyle changes. I work on the computer 8 hrs a day.

    I have 2 things that I’m not sure are related. In the last week of Dec I sneezed really hard. Within the next day my right ear started hurting. I wasn’t sure if it was from the sneeze or if I was getting an ear infection. The ear pain continued several days, my hearing was also affected. It hurt to hear high pitched sounds, to the point where I would cover my ear and I couldn’t use the phone on that ear. On Jan 3rd I realized I had sudden facial weakness on the right side of my face. My right forehead, eyebrow, eyelid, nostril, mouth could not move properly, but they were not completely paralyzed. The right side of my forehead and into my scalp felt kind of like it was asleep. In fear of a stroke I went to the ER, had a CT scan, came back fine. Was diagnosed with an ear infection that caused the facial weakness. The next day I went to the ENT, she determined I actually did not have an ear infection and thought that the sneeze irritated the nerve that runs through the inner ear or maybe I had some kind of bacteria in there. I was put on antibiotics and Medrol. My Endocrinologist thought it was Bell’s palsy. So I had 3 different diagnoses. Over about 6 weeks it all went away gradually and everything is back to normal.

    Last month my fingers began to feel asleep and they have stayed that way. It was a 4 day progression, 1st day-R pinky, 2nd day-R pinky and R ring finger, 3rd day-R pinky, ring and middle fingers and L pinky and ring fingers, by the 4th day they all felt the same way, “asleep”. After about 2 weeks I went to the orthopedic specialist. He thumbed on my wrists, I didn’t have any shooting pains, but determined that more than likely it’s carpal tunnel, gave me an anti-inflammatory & night splints. 2 weeks later I went back (I had no relief with either the medication or the splints) and he scheduled an EMG. I had the EMG 2 days ago. People I’ve talked to said the EMG hurt, that it felt like shooting needle pains going through their hand and out their finger tips. Well I did not experience any pain, the shocks felt funny and sometimes tickled, sometimes it made me laugh. Because of this and because I’m not experiencing any other typical carpal tunnel symptoms, I’m doubting that it’s really carpal tunnel, but I’m not sure what else it can be and I don’t know if it’s related to the facial weakness that I experienced in Jan. I don’t have any pain at all, not aching, not shooting, not pins and needles, nothing. My fingers simply feel “asleep”, to me that means, I can feel with them but the sensation is different, they feel funny. I have all of my strength and movement. Sometimes my palms feel asleep too. They sometimes feel a little worse when I run on the treadmill and they sort of feel better when my hands are cold, but the degrees of better and worse are small. It doesn’t seem to be better or worse after sleeping and it doesn’t wake me up at night. Actually I’ve stopped wearing the night splints because they don’t seem to be making a difference. I will get my EMG results either tomorrow or next week.

    I’m just wondering what else this could possibly be and if you think it truly sounds like it could be carpal tunnel and is it possible that the 2 things could be related? Thank you for your time!

  • Jan Modric

    ookk,

    in a carpal tunnel syndrome, the median nerve is affected and symptoms appear in the thumb, index and middle finger on the affected side. In an ulnar nerve disorder (like in cubital tunnel syndrome – see in the article) the pinky and ring finger and related part of the hand, and sometimes forearm, are affected. If you lean your elbows/forearms on the desk during computer workk, this may be the cause. Both hands symptoms can also arise from a pinched nerve in the cervical spine. CT or MRI of the spine can show this. It does not seem to be related with ear/facial symptoms, which probably resulted from sneezing. Ideally, you could take a week of rest or so, avoiding computer work, bending elbows and carrying any heavy things and see if it helps. Your EMG results will tell more.

  • ray

    hi my names is ray well my step dad woke up today and his ring and pinky fingers on his left hand are numb and the numbness is moving up his arm what does this mean????

  • Jan Modric

    ray,

    numbness in pinky and ring finger spreading upwards toward the elbow can be caused by several causes, one of them is an injury of the elbow. Even prolonged or repeated leaning of the elbow upon the desk (like during computer work) could cause this.

  • PJ

    I woke up in the middle of the night with a numb, tingling, burning, itching sensation in my right index finger. I have never felt anything like this before and I can’t pinpoint anything that would have caused it (no injury, etc.). I do have an ongoing issue with my right pinky finger in that the nail has a fungal infection that I haven’t been able to resolve for about a year. It’s unsightly but doesn’t affect it’s function or anything.

    My right forearm feels a little numb as well, but nothing like the index finger.

    I work on a computer all day and have for years, but have never had any trouble that seems to be associated with that.

    I have occasional back pain and neck pain, which I have seen a chiropractor for about a year, but stopped a few months ago as it didn’t seem to much good.

    I am a male, 42 years old.

  • Jan Modric

    PJ,

    regarding your computer work, the cause could be slightly inflamed tissues in your wrist (from overuse), pressing upon the median nerve. This is called carpal tunnel syndrome and would likely resolve with some wrist rest…The other likely cause is a pinched nerve in your cervical spine. Maybe a physioterapist can help.

    A fungal infection is not likely related. If ointments have not helped, you can ask your doctor for an oral anti-fungal medication.

  • aaron

    i was in a car wreck in October. They did x-rays and found that i had a wedge fracture in my thoracic spine (around the T-11 T-12 area). Here recently I have had times where I get a sharp pain in my right shoulder that while last for some time and usually after a while my right arm starts to tingle as if asleep. I’ve also had it where i had no shoulder pain and it seems as if my lateral side of my right arm is falling asleep (through my tricep and elbow and my ring finger and pinky) a couple of days ago i started having pain in my left shoulder and tingling sensation in all parts of my left arm only it took the tingling in my left arm about a hour and a half to go away (this was shortly after waking up) where as it is usually only temporary in my right arm. I then had an instance where i was lifting something and both my hands suddenly went to sleep, and then today i was working out at the gym and i was doing push-ups and i was finishing the exercise my arms started to fall asleep. if you could give me any guidance it would be much appreciated. (I have talked to my doctor about the tingling in my right arm and he told me it was because i smoke and it is cold)

  • Jan Modric

    aaron,

    symptoms in your shoulders and arms may arise from pinched nerve(s) in your cervical spine. I can’t say if this is related to car accident. It could be from a degeneration disc disease resulting in a bulging or herniated disc. I recommend you to arrange an appointment with a neurologist. It should be a freezing cold or you should have a severe atherosclerosis for cold or smoking to cause your symptoms, which does not sound likely to me.

  • lizanjheitz

    Hello,
    I have been experiencing heaviness and mild pain in both of my arms for several days. I especially notice it at night when I am trying to go to sleep. My hands seem to have the veins dilated. When I raise my hands above my head, the pressure stops and the veins don’t bulge as much. I have the pain which is a heavy pressure with tingling in both hands and arms, but it seems to be worse in my right hand/arm. Do you think it is vascular or neurological?

  • Abcmtz

    I have all over joint pain and swollen joints, mainly in my hands, wrists, and knees. Then when I lay down I get that numbness and tingling feeling to the point where it hurts uo and down both arms. The only way I can relieve it is if I sit straight up. I havent been in an accident or anything, it was a sudden onset last weekend.

  • Jan Modric

    lizanjheitz,

    are veins in your hands more dilated than usually? One possible cause is a week heart that can not pump the blood from the veins efficiently. Other possible causes: venous thrombosis, inflammed lymph nodes in your armpits. You can read about swollen arms here: http://www.healthhype.com/swollen-arm-swelling-of-the-hand-forearm-fingers.html

    In a neurological cause (pinched nerve), symptoms would likely worsen rather than disappear during arm lifting. I strongly recommend you to visit your primary doctor who can refer you to an appropriate specialist.

  • Jan Modric

    Abcmtz,

    this sounds like arthritis (maybe rheumatoid arthritis). I recommend you to see a rheumatologist.

  • lizanjheitz

    That is interesting. My arms aren’t swollen. It is just my veins that are dilated. My rings don’t fit tightly or anything. I should have told you, I have adhesions in my chest. My omentum is stuck to my liver and wrapped around my duodenum. I just hope that the adhesions aren’t trapping circulation too. The adhesions are quite extensive. This was the result of having a bile leak after galbladder surgery. Do you think this might have something to do with my symptoms? I have been very fatigued lately as well. I also have been having frequent infections. Another symptom I noticed is that when I do deep breathing and relaxation exercises, my hands get more tingly with pins and needles. I find it difficult to bend my fingers sometimes like they are locked up. Is that still a weak heart, or the adhesions cutting my circulation off?

  • Jan Modric

    lizanjheitz,

    from these additional symptoms, you’ve listed I’m even more convinced you should see a doctor. Frequent infections and fatigue can be, for example, from a heart disorder (well, this would go with leg swelling at least) or from a blood disorder, like anemia or leukemia. Even your primary doctor can order some basic blood tests. I encourage you to check this personal medical history questionnaire and write down all your symptoms in a time line. This may help your doctor a lot.

  • lizanjheitz

    Thank you very much for your input. I hope it is nothing serious.

  • Jan Modric

    lizanjheitz,

    if infections, fatigue, prominent veins and heavy arms will not go away in few days, I encourage you to see a doctor, since it CAN be something serious.

  • tamilou

    My problem is my hands stay swollen, burning sensation, tingling in (R)middle, ring and thumb, (L) thumb, and index fingers, severe pain in hands, losing grip and dropping things and at night the pain wakes me up it is so severe in my shoulders, arms and hands. I don’t have RA. Drs. have me on neurotin 100mg 2x daily, predisone for the third time for this. I also take Lorcet 10 for degeneric diease in the lower part of my back. The MRI shows I have lost 2 dics in the lower part of back I think it is L4 and L5. Please need some advice nothing helps the pain or any of the other problems. Went to the neurologist the other day but they wouldn’t see me because my insurance wouldn’t pay for test and I didn’t have $1300.00. I do have plague build up in heart, under active thyroid on meds for these.

  • abcmtz

    I left a comment a couple of days and just like you I figured I had RA. Well, I got my blood test results back today and was told I have Lupus. My ANA Direct was was positive, my Anti-DNA (DS) Ab Qn was 17 when 0-9 is normal, and my C-Reactive Protein, Quant was 11 when 0-4.9 is normal.
    I am going to see a rheumatologist to do more tests. Is Lupus a good diagnosis or should I get another opinion?

  • Jan Modric

    tamilou,

    underactive thyroid can cause swelling in the wrists resulting in carpal tunnel syndrome. Blood tests for TSH and thyroxine can reveal, if the levels are normal. When degenerated discs are present in the lower back they can be also in the cervical spine – these can then cause symptoms in the arms. A neurologist can say if a physiotherapy can help in pain arising from the spine. Avoiding prolonged standing and sitting, and having regular walks can help.

  • Jan Modric

    abcmtz,

    lupus can cause arthritis. I believe, rheumatologist will know, which additional tests to order, if necessary.

  • Jessica23

    Hi,
    I am a 24 year old female, 5’4″ 128lbs. I am quite active where I work (lots of walking) and I like to jog daily. I have been dealing with Lower back pain (left side mostly)which is sometimes mild and sometimes more acute – varies, for about a year now. Many times the pain will run down my buttock and someimes into the thigh. About a week and a half ago I noticed some tingling in my left foot, mostly toes. That has gone away for the most part (it lasted about a week). When the tingling started to go away in my foot, I noticed a cramping sensation, and that subsided and now my foot is feeling quite good. I went to an appointment with the doctor yesterday to discuss my back and foot symptoms, and also my irregular bowel movements (constipation). I was so nervous about the appointment and what my symptoms might be caused from, that my left hand was literally shaking. I was so fearfull and scared, extremely tense and unable to eat or sleep well. (I get anxiety very easily and often, and some mild panic attacks). After the appointment, my doctor diagnosed me with sciatica and constipation (she gave me a miralax regamin to try). Last night when I was on my way to bed, I noticed that my pinky finger and part of my palm on my left hand was a bit numb (not totally) and it was slightly tingling. When I woke in the morning my whole arm had a weekened sensation and felt warm and tense, same symptoms with the left hand numbness and tingle. Again, I went into panic mode because of the symptoms. Could any of the numbness in my arm and hand be related to stress/anxiety?
    Other things to consider:
    I have an enlarged lymph node under my right arm…had it for about 2 years. Blood tests and ultra sound found nothing unusual. Blood count normal and no infection present (went on antibiotics just in case).
    I wake up in the morning and the first few steps I take my feet are a bit swelled, but it goes away imediately. I sometimes have night sweats (not severe, they don’t soak the sheets or my clothes).
    Any input? I’m scared I have MS

  • Jan Modric

    Jessica23,

    symptoms in the left arm may arise from the cervical spine (probably from the same reason as leg smproms), but theorhetically, both leg and arm symptoms could arise from the brainstem or the right part of the brain. CT or MRI of the neck and head can be done for diagnosis.

    When all tests are negative, a biopsy of the lymph node can be done. It is important to mention leg swelling and night sweets to the doctor.