Causes of Left Arm Pain and Tingling

C

Left arm pain and tingling can be alarming to experience as many would jump to the conclusion that it was indicative of a heart attack, however the chances of this are fairly slim. While it is possible, heart attacks will usually come with a variety of other symptoms, namely a dull, squeezing pain in the centre of the chest, pain travelling around the whole area, sweating, breathlessness and excessive sweating. These too however can be caused by other factors.

If you’re getting the pain regularly or have had it recently, i.e. if the symptoms are more chronic than acute (which is very likely the case if you’re reading this and not writhing on the floor…) then chances are it’s not a heart attack or it would have been found by now. This is unless you’re experiencing small heart attacks, coronary disease or general heart pain, so for this reason the first port of call is still always to consult a doctor who can diagnose the causes of left arm pain tingling more accurately than we can. The doctor will most likely give you a physical exam and EKG test. Alternatively, if you’re unhappy with your diagnoses you may want to seek the counsel of a more specialised cardiologist. If they rule out cardiac problems then there are several other possible causes of pain and tingling in the left arm.

Firstly you may have bad circulation. If your arm is feeling cold and numb then it’s possible that not enough blood is reaching the area. This can be further caused/exacerbated by medication so if you’re on any prescription drugs look at whether this could be causing the problem. Alternatively seek medication to improve your circulation.

Left arm pain and tingling can also be caused by a dead arm. When this isn’t caused by poor circulation it can also be caused by lying awkwardly or lack of movement. This sensation feels like your arm has become dull and heavy and then begins to ‘tingle’ with cold feeling pins and needles. Similarly muscle cramp or spasm can cause similar sensations.

Left arm pain and tingling can even be psychosomatic, meaning that it’s caused by psychological processes. This doesn’t mean it’s ‘made up’ by any means, but means that it’s a result of the complex link between mind and body. If you experience panic attacks or anxiety disorders for example then your arm pain may be the result of stress, as can be chest pain. This isn’t actually that surprising when you consider how your heart beat increases and muscles tense up when you experience stress. There are many ways that this can be treated, such as with meditation, relaxation techniques or ‘biofeedback’ where you’re taught to control your heart rate.

It’s also possible that you have a mitral valve prolapse where there’s a protrusion of the mitral valve into the left atrium during systole. In this case complications are rare and treatment involves antibiotics. Again though this is unlikely without chest pain.

In short then, left arm pain and tingling is certainly worthy of a doctor’s attention, but is unlikely to be anything serious or life-threatening. Particularly if there’s no associated chest pain.

Last Updated on

About the author

Avatar
Mack LeMouse

55 comments

Leave a Reply to Mike Cancel reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • Author left out "brachial artery disease" which can be very serious and contradicts his final claim that such arm pain is not serious. If it's BAD, then it's serious (to use a pun.)

  • I found this article very informative and believable! I am a long time suffered of anxiety/panic attacks but have now got them under control and I have suffered all of these symptons from time to time.

  • Good artical but I have pain in my left arm but Ive recently had a spinal fusion and was wondering if this had anything to do with my pain.

  • Thank you SO MUCH. This is exactly what I was looking for. I am under high stress at the moment, and have been having very small pain in my bicep/shoulder area, followed by some slight tingling. I was so nervous that I may be having heart problems. This is very comforting!

  • For around 3 weeks now I have been getting short of breath and tingles in my left fingers, hand and up my arm, it's really scarey! It happens mostly at night when I'm sitting watching TV! I'm having it now, it's 2:50 in the morning and I have been having it since around 10 last night, it may not be serious, probably isn't as I'm still here posting a comment, if my message ends abruptly you know I'm dead!

    This site is comforting and good to hear it can be other things instead of heart related. Keeping my tingling fingers crossed! Thanks for your advice.

  • Thank you this information is very informative, I am a heart patient with a pacemaker/defibrillator. I had a mitral valve prolapse repair, and having to experience the symptoms, the information you provided help me understand what I am experiencing.

  • I am 13 and am experiencing pain in left arm, sometimes hard to breathe, chest pain, sharp pain in left arm. Sometimes these symptoms come 2-3 at a time but never sall together what can this be? I am 1 a girl 5'3/5'2 1/2. My weight is 163.

    I know I am overweight, can u also tell me ways to lose weight thanks!

  • This article helped me understand that what they tell you isn't always as it seems it was comforting and showed me that just because my arm is hurting doesn't mean I'm having a heart attack.

  • Excellent response – concise, covered all bases – no alarmism here. Thanks for taking the time to write!

  • I'm concerned that your article only addresses general cardiac or circulatory issues, then jumps to psychosomatic/psychiatric issues, and never mentions the more probable causes of ongoing left arm pain or tingling from neurological or orthopedic problems. One of the most common causes of left arm (or right arm) pain and tingling comes from issues or injuries of the cervical (neck) spine or brachial plexus. Older people often get this as their spines degenerate, discs loose their thickness and the vertebrae sag closer to each other. Bone spurs within the cervical spine often end up causing arm pain.

  • I feel a little relief after reading some of the causes for the arm pain imp having but it's been constant and I didn't read anything about the length of time being a factor. But thank you!

  • Thank you, this article distinguishes arm pain from reasons other than heart ache and gives a great relief for people who usually panic thinking its due to heartache. Also it gives psychosomatic as a possible cause as well. So its been very useful but as mentioned in comments previously by others it might be missing some other causes for the same problem.

  • Your information isn't medically sound. Some information is accurate, however you have misinformation here. I urge you to revise your comments.

  • Thank u! 70% OF health problems can be cured with a fearless mind and dealing it the right way. Jumping to fearful conclusions itself a big threat to a small problem. I like your approach… CHEERS TO WELL BEING…

  • I have a dead arm right now and wish it would go so badly! It just randomly came… I do have mental illnesses but I highly doubt it's caused from that… Is there anything at all that can calm it down because it hurts so much 🙁

  • Thank you for the peace of mind. I know to consult a doctor if symptoms worsen or other symptoms arise. But "heart attack" is always my first conclusion. I see this isn't always necessarily the case.

  • Did not sense any intent to advertise. However, would like to see some comments regarding whether neurological factors such as the nerves that run through the arm can cause localized pain.

  • My left arm feels numb and the lower part of my bicep near the inside of my elbow is really sore, recently went to the gym. Don't know if I have to get it looked at or just have to wait until my muscles recover, I'm guessing their still tensed up causing constraint on my blood vessels.

  • The beginning was a bit comforting, as this has been happening to me over the span of a few weeks now and I kept telling myself "heart attack," and "heart problems."

    I took a bit of Xanax to see if any part of it had to do with anxiety, and the heaviness in my chest went away – probably the result of me stressing out so much about what it was. However, it's a day later and my arm is still tingling and feeling a bit numb, and my side and back around just that area still just feel off. Everyone is telling me it's all still connected to anxiety, but I'm convinced otherwise? That part of it didn't go away when I took the medicine, and it's here whether I'm up or laying down or whatever. The thing everyone is saying with muscles and nerves kinda make sense to me – I had to quit orchestra a few years back due to excruciating neck/shoulder pain whenever I would play violin, and that pain continued up to now, but I didn't think it would really go spreading like this?

    I'm eighteen though, and I keep seeing things being related to age, so I really just have no clue.

  • This was very comforting. Thank god. I'm eighteen and was very worried. I guess my problem is that I always lie on my elbows when watching something and I guess since I always carry on that side the underarm on the left feels like this. Whatever the case, it's good to know that it's not serious. Could be because of stress as well it seems. Well that's no surprise I guess. Thank you so much!

  • I have tingling in the left arm and hand and quite painful at times.

    I was doing some heavy lifting a couple of weeks ago and I feel I damaged a nerve.

  • No chest pain associated. I have read several informative possibilities regarding arm pains including tingling or burning like symptoms but most associate shoulder pain. I am a woman at 52 a non-smoker now for 18 months. Previous employments indicate possible arthritis like diagnosis. Postal employee and many years of data input key in operations. Younger years very active in softball and volleyball. Starting approximately 2 months ago, I began experiencing a sharp pain reaching above shoulders into cabinets that cantered above biceps but below the shoulder on the outer side of arm. Days passing the pain came out of nowhere and feels like someone has punched me and pain as if a charlie horse noticeable. Indays passing noticeable to tingling like issues or numbness to either ring finger and pinky or thumb and first finger only. Note the more severe of the pain issue comes when arising from sleep or an hour before bedtime. No shortness in breathe and no chest pain. There is diabetes in my family also congenital heart disease. I read of many taking option of surgeries related to symptoms described only to learn no resolves. Do have a thought or even the stronger focal points I should address on scale 1 to 10. I will tell you I am approximately 185lbs and 5'7". Eleven grandkids keep me busy. I value any feedback.

  • I don't think I can add to all the comments… other than to say it's a shame the writer is not bothering to come back and view the responses. Many have asked relevant questions that are not getting answered.

    My overall thoughts on this is safety first, if you have frightening symptoms, go see the doc as a first move… get the tests run, then go from there…

  • I have panic attacks on occasion so when it says my arm tingling could be caused by stress that makes perfect sense to me. This page has been very helpful. Thank you!

  • Like all medical information, this is not specific, so it does little good. Everyone wants patients to go through the 'doctor mill' and get more nonspecific information, at huge cost to Medicare. That is a disaster for the USA.

  • Dull ache in arm tight chest go to A&E. I took my husband 3 days later he is having a stent fitted at The Royal Brompton. Any pain the Drs all say get to a hospital do not wait. It could save your life.

  • Quite a comprehensive explanation, presented with professional objectivity that I find very helpful in understanding my condition.

  • Thank you, I was having tingling in my left arm and chest with what felt like a cramp in my left shoulder and left side of my chest, I am glad to know it is probably nothing because I work 15 hr days 6 days a week and don’t have time to spend 5-7 hrs in a hospital waiting to get seen. Health care really stinks here in SK Canada.

Avatar By Mack LeMouse

Mack LeMouse

Avatar