Updated: Jun 2
Have you been wondering why your arm and hand go numb? Have you been wondering why it is happening more frequently? Many people experience numb arms and hands in a day-to-day routine; the causes can vary, and many are benign.
Numbness is a condition that gives you a feeling of pins and needles. This is accompanied by giving you trouble in doing any work as you feel it difficult to make accurate movements.
If you are experiencing any pain in your arm, the first thing that comes to mind is that you might have arthritis. That might be a reason, but this isn't the only one. It could be a symptom of another disease or condition.
There are several possible causes of this condition, and some of the problems require medical attention from a Manhattan pain management specialist. That's why it's important to rule out any serious issues before starting treatment. Here we discuss four possible causes of numbness in an arm or hands and their symptoms.
A nerve is a bundle of wires that carries electrical messages from your brain (or spinal cord) to the rest of your body or back again. Nerve damage can occur if you injure or inflame your arm or hand, such as by hitting it against something hard or having surgery on it.
If you've experienced a recent minor injury to your upper body, such as hitting your head or shoulder, you might experience numbness and tingle in your fingers or hand on that side. The injury could be causing a nerve blockage that is preventing your brain from sending signals to your arm and hand.
The nerve becomes inflamed and swollen, which can affect its function. This type of numbness usually occurs immediately after the accident and goes away within the first few days after the injury heals, but it may take longer if the injury is severe enough to cause nerve damage.
It's important to see a healthcare professional when you experience numbness in your arm. You don't want to ignore the problem and end up with permanent nerve damage. If you have numbness or tingling in your arm or hand, it could be caused by one of four different types of nerve problems.
The first is a pinched nerve in the neck or back. A pinched nerve can occur when you're sitting for a long time, sleeping on a pillow that's too high or low, or even from a neck injury.
The second type of nerve problem is carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). CTS is caused by pressure on the median nerve as it travels through the wrist and into the fingers. If you have CTS, you may feel numbness, tingling, and pain in your hand and fingers. If not treated, chronic irritation of this nerve can lead to loss of fine motor control and even permanent muscle wasting and weakness in your hand and arm.
The third type of nerve problem is peripheral neuropathy. This occurs when your nerves are damaged by poor blood flow or diabetes, among other things. Peripheral neuropathy can cause numbness and tingling anywhere in the body but often affect feet and hands first.
The fourth type of nerve problem is multiple sclerosis (MS). MS is an autoimmune disease that can affect any part of your body, including peripheral nerves like those in arms and legs, as well as central nervous system nerves like those in the brain or spinal cord.
Joints are places where two bones meet together. There are many joint problems that can cause numbness in the arm or hand. Some of these are more serious than others, and some are more common than others. Here are some of the most common causes:
Arthritis is one example of a joint problem that can cause arm and hand numbness. Arthritis occurs when cartilage in a joint breaks down, leading to inflammation and pain. The problem often begins with one joint, such as the knee or wrist, but can spread to other joints over time.
When arthritis affects joints in your wrists and hands, it can cause pain or stiffness that travels up into your arms and shoulders. In some cases, arthritis can also cause tingling sensations in your fingers.
Tendinitis is inflammation of a tendon, which is a cord that connects bones to muscles. This condition can cause swelling and pain in the affected area. It may be caused by overuse or injury to the tendon. For example, tendinitis may occur if you play tennis every day or if you lift heavy objects repeatedly with your arms.
A tendon rupture occurs when a tendon tears away from its attachment to bone at either end (distal or proximal). An acute injury often causes this, but sometimes it may occur without any obvious injury being present beforehand (idiopathic).
Muscle Tension or Spasms
The muscles in your arms and neck can get tight from stress or tension. When this happens, it can restrict blood flow to the arms and hands, which can cause numbness.
This can happen when you strain a muscle during exercise or physical activity, such as weight lifting, yoga, swimming, and more. This may also happen if your arm is bent for a long time — for example, when you sleep with your arm under your head or if you are using a computer for long periods of time without resting it on something stable like a table or tray.
Whether you've been typing or using a mouse, it is not uncommon to have a numb arm. In some cases, though, the pain can linger for several months — even years — if not treated properly.
If you experience numbness in just one arm and it's not accompanied by pain or weakness, it's likely caused by muscle strain from overuse. This can happen if you use one arm more than the other for repetitive movements such as typing or carrying something heavy with one hand.
Blood Circulation Issues
Numbness can also be caused by poor circulation — for example, when blood flow through a limb's arteries is reduced because of atherosclerosis (narrowing of arteries). Because this type of numbness typically occurs gradually over time rather than suddenly after an accident, there may be no obvious cause.
Blood circulation issues can cause numbness in one or more fingers or the entire limb. The arteries carrying blood to those areas become blocked over time due to plaque buildup or other factors, such as smoking, that decrease blood flow to certain areas of the body.
If you have numbness in one arm or hand, it's important to get it checked out by a doctor. Numbness on its own is rarely dangerous, but if it comes with other symptoms, such as pain or weakness, you may need treatment for a more serious condition. Heart problems may result in less blood flow to your arms and hands, which can contribute to numbness in those areas.
Numbness doesn't always go away on its own. You constantly experience a horrible, persistent, painful sensation in one or both of your upper arms. This might be affecting your productivity in the office and personal life, and the worst part is not knowing what to do about it. While chronic numbness in the arms and hands can be very uncomfortable, the good news is that there are many things you can do to relieve the discomfort.
If you're experiencing numbness or pain that won't quit and does not respond to self-care and over-the-counter pain medications within a week of excessive use, ask a physician for treatment options to help stop the issue from getting worse.
The best way to manage chronic numbness is to seek treatment from a pain specialist. They will be able to determine what's causing your nerve damage and recommend appropriate treatment options.
There are many non-invasive treatments that can help reduce or eliminate numbness in your arms and hands including:
Physical therapy to help improve flexibility and strength in affected areas
Acupuncture may reduce pain by stimulating nerve endings in the body
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), which uses mild electrical pulses delivered through electrodes placed on the skin.
Exercise may help improve circulation to reduce numbness in your hands and arms. A physical therapist can develop an exercise program to improve your strength, flexibility, and range of motion.
Massage therapy helps stimulate the muscles and increases circulation.
Injections may be used to relieve pressure on nerves or to deliver medication directly into the nerves to provide pain relief for some types of nerve damage.
This article has covered four possible reasons why you might be experiencing numbness or tingling in your arm and possible solutions to those problems. Many different things can cause numbness in the arm, but hopefully, this article can help you to identify and treat whatever the problem may be.
At this point, it's important to mention that only a doctor can determine what is causing your discomfort and numbness. So if you don't yet have your symptoms under control, and have multiple health challenges, as is often the case for those suffering from chronic pain, schedule an appointment with our Manhattan pain management specialist. Our specialists have experience treating patients who suffer from pain.