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.