Do you experience numbness in one or both of your arms? If it doesn’t resolve itself quickly or is reoccurring and you’re not sure why, it is time to see a doctor about it.
Many things can cause arm numbness. They range from the serious, such as a stroke or a heart attack, to mild. Like an arm going numb by leaning or sleeping on it too long. When an arm goes numb because of this, the numbness usually stops shortly after the pressure on the arm ends and blood circulates properly again.
Other causes for numbness vary in their seriousness and the treatment that is effective. Numbness left untreated may lead to permanent nerve damage.
Here are seven of the possible reasons for arm numbness.
1. Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease. It most often causes inflammation in joints, hands, and feet. The primary treatment for RA is medication, and getting treatment early can help relieve symptoms and slow the disease’s damage to the body. Staying active as much as the pain allows can help you feel better. A physical therapist may be able to assist you in developing a fitness routine to keep you strong and flexible.
2. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
People with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) suffer from pinched nerves in their wrist. The pinched nerve causes numbness, pain, and tingling. The pain can reach all the way to the shoulder. CTS is often caused by repetitive motions over time. Such as typing on a keyboard for work. Because of this, taking breaks to let your wrists and arms rest is a good first step to keep CTS symptoms at bay. CTS suffers are often given wrist splints to wear to hold their wrists in place. Other treatments are ice, cortisone shots, physical therapy, and surgery.
3. Tennis Elbow
Tennis elbow is a term used to describe swollen tendons in the elbow that can cause pain in the outer elbow, weakness, numbness, and tingling. It gets its name because it is a common injury for people who play tennis. Home remedies for tennis elbow are resting your arm, ice, and taking a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory. If home remedies do not relieve your symptoms, you can try using an elbow strap or getting physical therapy. A physical therapist can help you
4. Pinched Nerve
You say a nerve is “pinched“ when it is being compressed due to pressure from nearby tissues or bones. A pinched nerve in the neck (cervical radiculopathy) can cause numbness in the arm and hand, along with pain and weakness. Home remedies for a pinched nerve are rest, heat, ice, and taking a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory. If these treatments do not relieve your symptoms or if your pain is severe or recurring, go see your doctor.
Depending on your doctor’s diagnosis, your doctor may prescribe more potent anti-inflammatory medication or physical therapy. If these don’t help you, your doctor may prescribe surgery.
5. Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
Thoracic outlet syndrome refers to three types of disorders that involve nerves or blood vessels that are being compressed in the upper torso and throat. Symptoms include pain, numbness and tingling in the neck or arms. The treatment for thoracic outlet syndrome depends on which of the three disorders is causing the symptoms. But often physical therapy and a structured exercise routine are employed along with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication. It may also require surgery or other medications.
6. Cervical Stenosis
Cervical stenosis is primarily a degenerative disease that affects people over 50 years of age, but a small percentage are born with it. As people age, their spinal canal can narrow in the cervical area of their spine, which results in the nerves of the spine being compressed. The symptoms of cervical stenosis can include pain in the neck and arms. Numbness and tingling in the arms and hands may occur. More serious symptoms include a weakness in the arms or legs, instability when holding objects or walking, or loss of bladder or bowel control. Treatment for cervical stenosis depends upon the severity of pain the person is enduring. When diagnosed early on, the person may find adequate relief after making changes to take the pressure off their neck and a series of physical therapy sessions. Applying ice and heat can also be beneficial.
The changes a person can make depend on the individual activities the person engages in regularly. Standing or sitting with good posture and using ergonomic measures regarding computer use may help most.
7. Poor Circulation
Numbness in the hands and feet is one of many signs that can appear when someone has poor circulation. A variety of underlying medical issues including diabetes, obesity, peripheral artery disease, and blood clots can cause poor circulation. Depending on what is causing the poor circulation, the treatment will vary. Walking and other exercises are a good way to improve your circulation. Talk to your doctor first to determine the cause of your poor circulation and get their advice on how much physical activity they recommend that you get.
Get Help for Your Arm Numbness
If you don’t already know the reason for your arm numbness, you need to see your doctor so you can find out what’s causing it. The treatment may be as easy as getting some rest in order to get you back to feeling well.
Contact us today to schedule a physical therapy consultation to discuss how physical therapy can improve your arm numbness. We are here to help and answer your questions.