Tingling in the left arm is often described as a pricking or abnormal sensation. Occasionally a burning or numb sensation will accompany this symptom. Tingling or numbness in the left arm is known as paresthesia, and can be caused by a number of different ailments. In most cases this is a sign that blood flow or nerve function in the arm is being interrupted.
Causes of Tingling in the Left Arm: an Alarm for a Heart Attack?
Many panic when the left arm begins to go numb or tingle because this side effect is commonly associated with a heart attack. Numbness caused by an impending heart attack will be accompanied by tightness in the jaw or chest. This pain is commonly described as a squeezing sensation or the feeling as though a great deal of pressure is being placed on the chest. This pain will begin to radiate to the back and down the arms as your condition worsens.
Other potential causes of tingling in the left arm include:
- Stroke- Sudden tingling in the left arm can be the sign of an impending stroke. You may start to feel very dizzy or lightheaded and one side of your body will start to droop. You may begin to slur your words and have trouble communicating clearly as the condition takes hold.
- Vitamin Deficiency- A lack of vitamin B12 will often cause numbness or tingling in the limbs. This nutrient is essential to healthy brain and nerve development, so a deficiency can cause the body to start feeling strange sensations if your nerves are not being maintained properly.
- Improper Circulation- Decreased blood flow to any portion of the left arm can cause it to tingle or feel numb. A tight piece of clothing or jewelry may be cutting off the circulation to the rest of the arm, leading to the pins and needles sensation often referred to as the limb "falling asleep." Sitting or lying in an awkward position that does not allow proper blood flow to the arm can also cause this condition.
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or CTS- Putting excessive pressure on the joints can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome, a condition where the circulation becomes oppressed due to compressed tissue. Those who frequently sit with poor posture or perform activities that are hard on the wrists such as excessive typing are susceptible to developing this condition.
- Vascular Disorder- If the blood vessels become damaged or constricted, it can damage the circulation to the left arm. You may notice the fingertips turning blue or a loss of sensation that spreads up the arm. In more severe cases you may begin to notice muscle weakness as the tissue in your arm is deprived of nutrients from your blood.
- Nerve Damage- Nerve damage in the spine, shoulder or neck can cause the left arm to go numb. Ruptured vertebrae, a bulging disk or compressed nerve in the shoulder are frequent offenders for this condition.
Treatments for Tingling in the Left Arm
Home care can often help alleviate some discomfort from tingling developing in the left arm. But severe conditions should need medical assistance.
- For carpal tunnel syndrome: if you are suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome, make an effort to avoid activities that aggravate your condition. Sit in a more appropriate posture and work to keep the wrists straight. Your doctor may recommend exercises that will take the pressure off of your joints to help undo some of the damage.
- For vitamin deficiency: those suffering from a vitamin deficiency can take supplements to increase their intake of the necessary nutrients.
- For nerve damage: if nerve damage in the arm is stemming from a condition such as diabetes, an adjustment to the diet can help regulate your circulation more effectively to avoid causing further damage.
- For injuries to the arm: injuries to the arm that lead to tingling sensations can be treated with rest. Avoid straining your left arm. Place a cold compress on bruised or swollen areas and sit with the arm propped above the heart to help take down swelling. In some cases injuries to the arm can be aided with light stretching or massage, but consult your doctor before doing so to ensure this will not aggravate your condition further.
- For severe conditions: if the tingling sensation in your left arm is accompanied by a sudden feeling of weakness, confusion, a feeling that you cannot control your body parts or bowel movements, dizziness or increased urination, tingling when you walk or attempt to move your arm or feeling as though you may lose consciousness it is important to seek medical attention immediately. These are signs of severe damage that could lead to a life threatening condition.
- For other conditions: if you begin to feel numbness after a fall or an injury to the back or neck, contact your doctor to evaluate the extent of the damage. You will also need to inform your doctor if you suddenly experience a tingling sensation in your arm with no apparent cause. You may have caused nerve or muscle damage that will require treatment to avoid worsening your condition. This is especially important if you develop a rash or if the numbness in your arm is accompanied by muscle spasms, dizziness, unusual changes in behavior or personality or pain in the neck, forearm and fingers.