What Causes Left Arm Numbness
Left-arm numbness can be frightening. There are many causes, and the major ones include:
1. Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
Thoracic outlet syndrome is a group of disorders that involve the compression and irritation of the nerves, arteries, and veins in the lower neck and chest . Pain is a major symptom and can be intermittent or constant and varies in severity and quality. The pain can involve the lower neck, collar bone, and hand. Left-arm numbness can also be present.
2. Cervical Nerve Irritation
The neck is composed of seven building blocks called vertebral bodies. Sandwiched between each of the building blocks is a disc. They are important shock absorbers in the neck. Nerves exit the spine at each level sending important information to the arm and hand. Unfortunately, cervical discs can be injured by trauma, degeneration, infection, and arthritis . Common cervical disc injuries are bulges or herniations both of which can cause cervical nerve irritation or compression. This compression can result in a number of symptoms which include left arm numbness.
3. Cervical Stenosis
The spinal cord extends from the brain down to the low back. It is enclosed in the spinal canal which contains spinal fluid and the spinal cord. If the spinal canal becomes narrowed the spinal cord can become irritated or compressed. This compression is called stenosis and causes a number of symptoms including left arm numbness . To learn more about cervical stenosis please click in the video below.
Whenever I Raise My Arms Overhead For More Than 30 Seconds My Hands Go Numb My Mother Is A Retired Nurse And She Thinks This Could Be The Sign Of A Heart Problem Is She Right
Loss of circulation to the hands can occur with arms raised overhead from one of several different problems.The onset of angina and a subsequent heart attack is known to be precipitated when working with the arms extended over the head.
Oxygen requirements of the heart are greater during arm work compared to leg work at the same workload level. If a person becomes weak or short of breath while in this position, ischemia may be the cause.
Pain and numbness can also be the result of a condition known as thoracic outlet syndrome .The main cause of TOS is that the nerves and blood vessels going from the neck down to the arm and hand get squeezed near the thoracic outlet. The thoracic outlet is this opening between the scalene muscles and the rib cage. The nerves and blood vessels go through the outlet opening, then under the collarbone , through the armpit , and down the arm to the hand.
Theres a wide variety of reasons why you might develop TOS as a potential cause of your current symptoms. For example, pressure on nerves and vessels can happen in people who have fractured their clavicle. It can also happen in people who have an extra first rib, although this doesnt always result in TOS.
Neck and arm positions used at work and home may contribute to TOS. People who have to hold their neck and shoulders in awkward alignment sometimes develop TOS symptoms. TOS symptoms are also reported by people who have to hold their arms up or out for long periods of time.
Waiting For An Ambulance
If you have had a heart attack, it’s important that you rest while you wait for an ambulance, to avoid unnecessary strain on your heart.
If aspirin is available and you are not allergic to it, slowly chew and then swallow an adult-size tablet while you wait for the ambulance.
Aspirin helps to thin your blood and improve blood flow to your heart.
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Symptoms Can Be Different For Men And Women
Men and women experience heart attack symptoms in slightly different ways. The main difference is how pain radiates.
- For men: Pain will spread to the left shoulder, down the left arm or up to the chin.
- For women: Pain can be much more subtle. It may travel to the left or right arm, up to the chin, shoulder blades and upper back or to abdomen . Women are also more likely to experience these accompanying symptoms: shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting and back or jaw pain. Read an in-depth overview of heart attack symptoms for women here.
Some heart attacks are sudden and intense, but most start slowly with mild pain and discomfort. Surviving a heart attack depends upon how well you recognize and react to these symptoms. Remember that “time is muscle.” The sooner you receive medical care, the sooner heart muscle can be saved.
If You Suddenly Have Tingling And Numbness In Your Fingers And Have Risk Factors For A Heart Attack There May Be More To Whats Going On Than Just Some Pinched Nerve Somewhere
Yes, a heart attack can cause pain that feels like numbness and tingling in the arm, begins Momina Mastoor, MD, a board certified cardiologist with WellSpan Medical Group in Gettysburg, PA.
This sensation can travel all the way down the arm into the fingers, causing numbness and tingling, continues Dr. Mastoor.
Normally this symptom would occur along with other symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath and lightheadedness.
Tingling alone is rarely the sign of a heart attack. That said, if you are at risk for a heart attack, for example are obese, have high blood pressure or smoke, I would worry about numbness and tingling in the fingers.
But if you do not have risk factors, tingling is likely not a sign of a heart attack. Besides a heart attack, this tingling can also occur with angina.
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Heart Attack Symptoms And Warning Signs
A heart attack happens when an artery that feeds oxygen-rich blood to the heart becomes obstructed. The heart muscle begins to die, and heart attack symptoms begin.
- Sudden shortness of breath.
- Sudden sweating or flu-like symptoms, including nausea, clamminess or cold sweats.
- Unusual fatigue, light-headedness, weakness or dizziness.
- Pain that radiates. Men and women often experience this pain differently, as explained below.
- Intermittent pain that lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back. This sensation can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing or fullness.
- Anxiety or a feeling of doom.
- If you have angina: Any change in the frequency, duration or intensity of symptoms, which do not respond to nitroglycerin.
What Causes Arm Numbness
Numbness in the arm has many possible causes that range from mild to severe. Simply sitting or sleeping in the wrong position can restrict the blood flow or put excess pressure on a nerve, making the arm go numb.
However, unexplained arm numbness may indicate an underlying health condition, such as nerve damage, a herniated disc, or cardiovascular disease. Severe causes of arm numbness include heart attacks and strokes.
In this article, we discuss eight possible causes of arm numbness and their treatments.
A person may experience arm numbness because of poor circulation.
Blocked or compressed blood vessels can interfere with blood circulation to and from the heart. Poor circulation can cause numbness and tingling in the arms, hands, legs, and feet.
Reduced blood flow can cause other symptoms, such as:
- cold hands and feet
- extremely pale or blue-tinted skin
- swelling in the legs, ankles, and feet
- joint or muscle pain
Poor circulation is not a medical condition in itself, but it can happen if a person does not move enough during the day. It can also be a symptom of other conditions, including those below:
Treatment for poor circulation depends on the underlying cause. Wearing compression wraps can help reduce swelling in the limbs. Exercising can also help improve circulation.
Peripheral neuropathy causes a range of symptoms, depending on which nerves it affects. In general, people who have peripheral neuropathy may experience:
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How To Know If Left Arm Pain Is Heart Related
This article was co-authored by Anthony Stark, EMR. Anthony Stark is a certified EMR in British Columbia, Canada. He currently works for Mountain View Safety Services and previously worked for the British Columbia Ambulance Service. Anthony has a Bachelor of Engineering in Electrical, Electronics, and Communications Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology.There are 12 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article received 21 testimonials and 93% of readers who voted found it helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 980,799 times.
Pain in the left arm can be due to many conditions, ranging from run of the mill muscle pain to a severe heart attack. Abnormalities of the skin, soft tissue, nerves, bones, joints and blood vessels of the arm can all cause pain. There are a number of factors to consider in order to determine whether your left arm pain is heart-related or not.
Some Other Early Warning Signs
Identifying early warning signs and symptoms of a heart attack is very important. The faster one seeks medical attention, the faster one can prevent dire situations from arising. Besides arm pain, some other early heart attack symptoms are as follows:
- Shortness of breath
- Heaviness in the chest region
- Irregular heartbeats
- Pain spreading to the jaw, neck, shoulder and arms
- Pain radiating from the chest all the way to upper back
People with high blood pressure, with a family history of heart disease, aging people, people with type 1 diabetes, cigarette smokers, alcoholics, sedentary lifestyle people, people consuming diets high in saturated fats need to be cautious of these symptoms if any, due to higher vulnerability to heart attacks. Such people should take extra precautions and make certain crucial lifestyle changes.
Daily exercising, consumption of a healthy, well-balanced diet, refraining from alcohol and smoking, etc. will help reduce ones susceptibility to get a heart attack. Heart attacks can affect anybody, irrespective of the age, sex, caste or creed. However, we need to take as many precautionary measures as we can. Better safe than sorry!
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.
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Vitamin And Mineral Intake
Increase your essential nutrient intake with foods enriched with B vitamins such as eggs, fortified cereals, dairy products, fish, beans, dried fruits, and nuts and seeds.
You can also increase magnesium levels to prevent numbness by enjoying low-fat yogurt, dark-green vegetables, nuts and seeds, bananas, soybeans, fish, and even dark chocolate.
Adding cinnamon to your diet can promote blood flow. You can add it to dishes or drink a glass of warm water mixed with one teaspoon of cinnamon powder daily.
He Had Bouts Of Severe Back And Shoulder Pain Which He Did Not Relate To His Heart
Another man had what he described as five-minute episodes of discomfort in the centre of his stomach, which he found debilitating rather than painful. Two days later he had what he thought was indigestion, becoming nauseous and experiencing an overwhelming feeling of tiredness. It was at this point that he was diagnosed as having had a heart attack. One 37-year-old woman describes the pains she had in her teeth and arms. Another man, a hospital consultant, explained that he had what felt like severe heartburn but none of the classic symptoms of a heart attack.
Occasionally, a heart attack is ‘silent’ and produces little discomfort. People may not know they have had one until they have a medical investigation for other symptoms or a routine medical examination .A few people said they had no symptoms and had felt well before their heart attack. Several described breathlessness, chest pain when walking up a hill or exercising, arm pains, or felt lethargic or more tired than usual in the lead up to having a heart attack. But many did not recognise the significance of these symptoms until after their heart attack. They had thought at the time that they were caused by asthma, indigestion or other gastric conditions.
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Vascular Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
Sometimes, nerves or blood vessels that affect your arms become compressed. This can lead to numbness, tingling, and pain in your arms, hands, and neck. Your hands might turn pale blue or be slow to heal wounds.
Vascular thoracic outlet syndrome can be treated with medications and physical therapy. Surgery may be needed.
Angina And Heart Attacks
Angina is a syndrome caused by the supply of oxygen-rich blood to the heart becoming restricted.
People with angina can experience similar symptoms to a heart attack, but they usually happen during exercise and pass within a few minutes.
However, occasionally, people with angina can have a heart attack. It’s important to recognise the difference between the symptoms of angina and those of a heart attack. The best way to do this is to remember that the symptoms of angina can be controlled with medicine, but symptoms of a heart attack cannot.
If you have angina, you may have been prescribed medicine that improves your symptoms within 5 minutes. If the first dose does not work, a second dose can be taken after 5 minutes, and a third dose after a further 5 minutes.
If the pain persists, despite taking 3 doses of glyceryl trinitrate over 15 minutes, call 999 and ask for an ambulance.
Page last reviewed: 28 November 2019 Next review due: 28 November 2022
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Arm Back Neck Jaw Or Stomach Pain Or Discomfort
Heart attack pain may not be confined to the chest area. Pain or discomfort in your arm, back, neck, jaw, or stomach can also be heart attack-related.
But many people do not associate pain in these areas with having a heart attack which may prevent them from getting immediate medical attention.
Some head-to-toe signs of a heart attack include:
- Jaw, neck, or back pain
- Arm or shoulder pain or discomfort
- Shortness of breath
If you feel sudden discomfort in these areas, call 9-1-1.
Shortness Of Breath Nausea And Lightheadedness
Shortness of breath can occur with or without a chest pain during a heart attack. Most people dont realize this can happen before or after a heart attack as wellespecially for women..
Research has found that shortness of breath is the third most reported symptom before a heart attack among women and the top symptom during a heart attack.
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A Few Interesting Facts About Heart Attacks:
- The loneliness factor: Those who live by themselves are twice as likely to have a heart attack versus those who live with a significant other or a roommate.
- Manic Mondays: Statistically, most heart attacks occur on Monday mornings. In the early morning, blood platelets are stickier, people are partially dehydrated, and stress hormones are at maximum levels.
- Birthdays and holidays are triggers: A person is 27 percent more likely to have a heart attack on his or her birthday. They also commonly occur on Christmas Day, Dec. 26, and New Years Day.
- Laughter helps: Laughter increases a persons blood flow by up to 20 percent, while negative feelings are a risk factor for a heart attack.
Heart disease is the number-one killer of both men and women in the United States. Heart attacks occur every 43 seconds in America, and nearly one million people in the United States have one each year.
Less Likely To Be A Heart Attack
Sensation of pain, or of pressure, tightness, squeezing, or burning
Sharp or knifelike pain brought on by breathing or coughing
Gradual onset of pain over the course of a few minutes
Sudden stabbing pain that lasts only a few seconds
Pain in diffuse area, including a constant pain in middle of chest
Pain clearly on one side of the body or the other
Pain that extends to the left arm, neck, jaw, or back
Pain that is localized to one small spot
Pain or pressure accompanied by other signs, such as difficulty breathing, a cold sweat, or sudden nausea
Pain that lasts for many hours or days without any other symptoms
Pain or pressure that appears during or after physical exertion or emotional stress or while you are at rest
Pain reproduced by pressing on the chest or with body motion
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What Are The Symptoms
Symptoms of angina include chest pain or pressure, or a strange feeling in the chest. Some people feel pain, pressure, or a strange feeling in the back, neck, jaw, or upper belly, or in one or both shoulders or arms. Other symptoms of angina include shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting, light-headedness or sudden weakness, or a fast or irregular heartbeat.
Some people describe their angina as pressure, heaviness, weight, tightness, squeezing, discomfort, burning, or dull aching in the chest. People often put a fist to the chest when describing their pain. Some people may feel tingling or numbness in the arm, hand, or jaw when they have angina.
It might be hard for you to point to the exact location of your pain. Pressing on the chest wall does not cause the pain.
Your symptoms might begin at a low level and then increase over several minutes to reach a peak. Angina that starts with an activity usually will decrease when the activity is stopped. Chest pain that begins suddenly or lasts only a few seconds is less likely to be angina.
Do not wait if you think you are having a heart attack. Getting help fast can save your life. Even if you’re not sure it’s a heart attack, have it checked out.