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Numbness in Left Arm - Causes and Treatment

Updated on December 1, 2013

There are many different reasons that a person could feel numbness in your left arm. One of the major causes is a lack of blood supply in your arm which can often be followed by a burning and pricking sensation. It is a common condition but it could also indicate that you may have a major health problem. Sometimes the cause is the compression of the nerves in your left arm. It is something that can be a gradual process or it could start suddenly. It is a consistent numbness it could be a sign of an impending heart attack. Numbness in the arm, especially the left one, should not be ignored.

What Causes Numbness in Left Arm?

Some of the causes of numbness in left arm include:

  • A fracture - the fracture could be in your fingers, arm, or elbow. Usually along with the numbness you may have a sharp pain in the area that is fractured. In order to diagnosis if you have a fracture you will need an x-ray. Having a fracture of your shoulder blade, lower or upper arm, or collar bone may also cause numbness in your left arm.
  • Nerve damage and compression - sometimes the nerve that goes from your central nervous system to your left arm can become compressed and is a common problem for numbness in your left arm. It happens because the blood circulation is interrupted due to the compression. There can be many causes for damage to your nerves but the main one is diabetic neuropathy. A person could also be suffering from peripheral neuropathy which could be caused by an injury, exposure to toxins, an infection, or metabolic problems.
  • Brachial plexus injury - this is a nerve network which sends signals from your arm and shoulders to your spine. When you have this type of injury the nerves in your hand are either overstretched or torn.
  • Ganglion Cysts - these growths are non-cancerous and can develop on your hands or wrists, suddenly or gradually. The cysts are usually not painful and will not require any type of treatment. They can be removed surgically if you want them removed because they are unsightly or if they affect the movement of your joints.
  • Stroke - when a person has a stroke the blood supply to your brain is reduced or interrupted and can cause numbness in your left arm.
  • Crutch Palsy - this is also known as radial nerve dysfunction and is when you have a problem with sensations or movement in the tissues that your radial verve supplies. This is a nerve that important in the extremities of your upper body. It is often found in people who have to use crutches and do not use them correctly. In time the crutch under your arm can compress the radial nerve causing the numbness.
  • Cubital tunnel syndrome - this is also called ulnar nerve entrapment and is a common cause of having numbness in your left arm. This is one of the biggest nerves in your body that is not protected and it can become compressed when it goes through your passageway located in your elbow.
  • Other causes - it could be the result of having a pulled muscled when you lift a heavy object or while playing. Numbness in the left arm could be due to nerve damage because of excessive consumption of tobacco and alcohol. It could also be cause by a lack of vitamins and nutrients, especially a deficiency of vitamin B. It could also be caused by multiple sclerosis. You could also have temporary numbness in your left arm due to sleeping on your arm. It could be caused by pinched disks or nerves.

Treatment

Because there could be many different causes of numbness in left arm so before any treatment can be started you should visit your physician to find out the cause for the numbness. If there is any possibility that it could be a symptom of a stroke or heart attack you should seek immediate medical attention. If your numbness in left arm begins without warning suddenly, affects your whole arm, or it happens after a head injury you should get medical attention immediately.

If the numbness in left arm happens after sleeping on your arm for an extended period of time, after lifting something heavy, etc you can try some stretching exercises to get the blood circulating back into the area. You can also rub the area to get blood circulation restarted.

If the numbness is caused by a fracture or injury that is accompanied by pain and swelling you can apply warm compresses and you can also elevate the injured limb. If it is found that you have a nutritional deficiency you can start taking supplements to fix this deficiency.

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      sommya 2 years ago

      in the middle of the night i felt my left hand were dead and came back to normal after 1 min...no pain also...i got really scared

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      darrell childress 3 years ago

      im a truck driver i just got done with my day relaxing and my whole arm become numb for a few minutes no pain or tinglenes and it came back normal feeling no pain at all freak me out