Uncomfortably Numb – Causes of a Numb Arm

If you experience numbness in one or both arms then this could be a sign of many different conditions. Numbness in the left arm as many of us know is often related to heart attack and this makes it highly dangerous. Here the left arm numbness will be accompanied by a ‘crushing’ pain in the centre of the chest which might make also make breathing difficult and be accompanied by sweating, panic, tiredness, pain and numbness in the neck and jaw and a racing heartbeat.

If you do not experience these symptoms, or if you experience right arm numbness instead or as well as the lack of sensation in your left arm, then you are most likely experiencing something else (though a heart attack should not be completely ruled out as symptoms can vary – even disappear in the case of a silent heart attack).

There are many things that can cause right arm numbness which range in severity. It is an important warning sign for many conditions and one that you should watch vigilantly.

Often numbness in general is caused by damage to the nerves or neuropathy. This can be long term or short term and there are many ways it can occur. One way this can happen is simply by lying on your arm for a long time which can temporarily deaden your nerves as well as cutting off blood supply. This will often happen during the night where we might be prone to lie in awkward positions without waking. If you wake in the night to find yourself unable to move or feel one or both arms, and with a ‘tingling’ sensation such as pins and needles, then you have probably simply been lying on your arm and normal usage should return after not long.

More serious nerve damage can have a similar affect but be longer lasting and harder to reverse. External trauma for example can damage a nerve if you bang or hurt your arm in which case you should see a physician. If you break a bone it is possible for the jagged edge to severely cut nerves which can result in loss of use of that arm. This is why after breaking or dislocating a bone it is highly important to treat the area carefully until you can receive help from a medical expert.

Another way your nerve can become damaged is with cervical disk syndrome or other back problems. This can cause right arm numbness if the disk traps the route of the nerve or damaged it. This can be diagnosed by CT or MRI and can generally be treated with physiotherapy or surgery.

Your diet too can cause nerve damage. A common cause here is vitamin B-6 which is good for the nerves if eaten in the correct quantities, but becomes harmful if eaten in large quantities. Many bodybuilders, athletes and ‘naturalists’ and anyone else who uses a lot of health supplement will be susceptible to a vitamin B-6 overdose simply because it is included in almost every health supplement for the natural ‘lift’ it can give your energy (the main purpose of B-6 is to improve the body’s ability to use carbs for energy). Thus it is highly important to read the back of your supplements and consider the ingredients. If you use more than one supplement you need to consider whether they will work together.

Neuropathy can also occur as a result of having too much glucose in the blood stream which can cause damage to the body. If you experience right arm numbness along with tingling in the fingers this might be a sign of such neuropathy. The existence of too much glucose in the blood might indicate diabetes (which leaves the body either unable to produce enough insulin or leaves it more immune to insulin). This can cause serious health complications so it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible – particularly as right arm numbness and tingling are likely to be some of the latter symptoms. Other symptoms of diabetes include constant urination, unquenchable thirst, tiredness and weight loss.

Carpal tunnel syndrome meanwhile is a fairly common explanation for right arm numbness. Here the tendons or ligaments become inflamed and this can cause numbness or tingling. In some cases if it is acute (meaning it comes on suddenly and sharply) it could be the first sign of a stroke depending on the area of the brain affected.

Thus there are many possibilities when it comes to right arm numbness. Using the information above it might be possible to narrow down the cause of a specific case. It is important to pay attention to the context surrounding the numbness, the duration and sensation of the numbness itself, and any other symptoms that occur in conjunction. If you are unsure you should seek medical attention in case it is a case of stroke or diabetes.

1 Comment

  1. I recently became addicted to monster drinks, I drink like two 24oz cans a day, and now my right arm is numb, now it could be a number of reasons why it is happening, but the B-6 and glucose explanation fits perfectly! I will stop drinking the energy drink and wait and see if the problem gets better before I see a doctor. Thank you!

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Adam Sinicki

Adam Sinicki is a full time writer who spends most of his time in the coffee shops of London. Adam has a BSc in psychology and is an amateur bodybuilder with a couple of competition wins to his name. His other interests are self improvement, general health, transhumanism and brain training. As well as writing for websites and magazines, he also runs his own sites and has published several books and apps on these topics.

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