Why Do My Arms Feel Numb and Tingly?

There has been an increase in patients going to clinics complaining of numb and tingly arms and their most common question is why do they feel numb and tingly? Before any treatments can be employed, the main reason for the paresthesia or abnormal sensations in the arms must first be identified to employ the correct treatment for the condition.

Don’t go checking your just yet, because some possible causes may be mild such as the presence of vitamin deficiency or minor injury. However, others may require more aggressive treatments because they may involve affectation of the nerves and blood supply to the arms. To help you identify some of the reasons for your numb and tingly arms, the following are the most common reasons for the condition:

• Nerve Irritation from Herniated Discs
The spine consists of the vertebrae and intervertebral discs. Inside the lumen of the vertebrae is the spinal cord with bunch of nerves. When the intervertebral disc herniates or slides off the bony vertebrae, the nerves may be trapped or pinched. As a result, sensations at the level or below the specific herniated disc may be affected resulting to numbness or tingling sensation. Herniated discs may be accompanied by back pain.

• Reduction of blood supply
Reduction in the blood supply to the arms as seen in Reynaud’s phenomenon is another cause of paresthesia along the upper limbs. Reynaud’s phenomenon involves narrowing of the arteries in the arms leading to reduced blood flow and oxygenation of the cells. Poor oxygenation triggers the development of pale and cold hands as well as numbness and tingling sensations. Reynaud’s phenomenon is linked to stress and extreme temperature changes.

• Vitamin Deficiency
Deficiency in certain vitamins such as B vitamins may lead to peripheral neuropathy or damage on the peripheral nerves. It may be felt as numbness and tingling sensations in the arms and feet. Since the main cause is deficiency in the B vitamins, supplementation is required to repair the damaged nerves.

• Ulnar nerve entrapment
The inner portion of the arms contains the ulnar nerve traveling from the collarbone to the hands. The ulnar nerve is one of the three main nerves that innervate the arms that are responsible for both the motor and sensory function of the arms, hands and fingers. When the ulnar nerve is trapped due to other conditions, there may be reduced grip strength, reduced coordination of the fingers and numbness and tingling sensations along the forearm.

• Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome involves the pinching of the median nerve along a small fibrous tissue along the wrists called the carpal tunnel. When the median nerve is compressed, it leads to numbness and tingling sensation in the hands that may radiate to the forearm. It is also accompanied by shooting pain along the wrist area.

• Stroke
Numbness and tingling sensation in one side of the body may also be due to cerebrovascular accident or stroke. Mild stroke may go unnoticed and may just be observed as abnormal sensations in a particular side. Those who may feel sudden numbness and tingling sensation with some alterations in speech may have experienced a Transient Ischemic Attack or mild stroke.

Since paresthesia may be caused by various factors, it is essential that physicians diagnose the root cause first before employing proper management for the condition.