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Tingling in Left Arm

Updated on August 5, 2021
Medically Reviewed by
Dr. Dhingra
Written by
Joel
8 sources cited
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Tingling in the left arm, also called “paresthesia,” is uncomfortable and disturbing because it is not normal. It is described as a “pins and needles” sensation and can be a symptom of various disease conditions. These conditions may either be circulatory, orthopedic, or neurological in nature. 

Temporary tingling in the left arm can sometimes occur due to constant pressure on a nerve or nerves, causing restricted blood flow. For example, a person who has been drawing for hours, or has slept on his arm, could experience arm numbness.

Tingling in the left arm

Prolonged and persistent tingling in the left arm, unexplained numbness, and sudden numbness, however, could be symptoms of something serious. A healthcare professional should properly assess it so they can provide medical advice - or because it might be something that needs emergency medical treatment.

Tingling in the Left Arm: Is This Cause For Concern?

Left arm tingling can be because of something as simple as sleeping in the wrong position or as serious as a heart attack. In between are lots of other probable causes.

Temporary tingling in the left arm is typically not a cause for concern. It will most likely go away on its own. However, if the tingling persists and you're not entirely sure what the cause is, you should get in touch with your doctor. Even if you think it isn't a medical emergency, it's not something that you should ignore.  

Call 911 if left arm numbness or tingling is accompanied by severe neck pain, difficulty breathing, and chest pain, as these are symptoms of a serious medical emergency and need immediate medical attention.

Causes of Tingling in the Left Arm

Before you panic and immediately assume that the tingling in your left arm is because of a heart attack, know that there are other causes to this, too. Other conditions could cause this sensation. 

Circulatory Problems

When there is poor circulation or a lack of blood flow to the arm because of some form of restriction, arm pain, tingling, and numbness may happen. This is because blood is not flowing to the affected area as it should, depriving blood vessels of oxygen.  It might be something external, such as wearing tight clothing or sleeping on your arm wrong. But it might also occur due to the following conditions:

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome, which occurs when joint pressure causes tissue constriction, causing tingling. Most people develop carpal tunnel syndrome from repetitive motions, such as typing or scrolling on a smartphone.

Nerve Damage

An injury in the neck, back, or arm can lead to tingling, especially when there is a compressed nerve. Examples are Brachial plexus injury and peripheral nerve injury. Most nerve injuries require medical treatment, surgery, and/or treatment sessions with a physical therapist.

Other circulatory causes include:

  • A cast that is too tight
  • Arteriovenous malformation
  • Buerger's disease
  • Cubital tunnel syndrome
  • Exposure to extremely cold temperatures (Frostbit)
  • Peripheral vascular disease

Orthopedic Problems

Tingling in the left arm may also occur because of orthopedic conditions that damage or injure nerves. These conditions may range from moderate to severe.

  • Broken bones
  • Cervical spondylosis
  • Cervical spinal stenosis
  • Herniated disk
  • Osteoporosis
  • Ruptured Vertebra

Neurological conditions

Disorders that affect the brain and the spinal cord, along with the nerves in the body, can cause tingling in the left arm. Damage to the ulnar nerve or median nerve may cause numbness and tingling. 

One of the most common neurological conditions associated with left arm tingling is stroke. A stroke occurs when a blood clot causes a reduction or interruption of blood supply to the brain, depriving brain tissues and brain cells of oxygen and important nutrients.

If tingling is accompanied by symptoms such as slurred speech, severe headache, difficulty walking, and light-headedness, it could be a sign of a stroke. Stroke affects blood flow between the heart and brain, and problems with blood flow cause tingling.

In addition to stroke, tingling in the left arm is also linked to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes

Other neurological conditions are:

  • Diabetic neuropathy
  • Lead (or other heavy metal) poisoning 
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Peripheral nerve injuries
  • Pernicious Anemia
  • Tumors or injuries in the spinal cord
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)
  • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
  • Transverse Myelitis

One other reason for tingling in the left arm is vitamin deficiencies. Your body's nerves rely on nourishment to function properly. If your nerves do not receive what they need, especially vitamins B12 and D, you can develop many issues, including tingling. 

The EverlyWell B Vitamins test is an excellent resource for helping you determine if a specific vitamin deficiency is a cause of tingling in your arm. This is an at-home test that can help you evaluate the levels of Vitamins B6, B9, and B12 inside your body. Vitamin B12 deficiency causes numbness and tingling associated with Pernicious Anemia.

Using a blood sample obtained from a finger prick, you’ll gain valuable insights into your body’s vitamin B needs. This way, you can identify and correct deficiencies before they cause serious health problems.

Treating Tingling in the Left Arm

You and your doctor can discuss the best method for treating tingling in your left arm based on the cause of the tingling. Some of the most common treatment options include:

You should seek medical attention and treatment for tingling in the left arm. However, in addition to the suggestions offered by your doctor, there are also at-home remedies to ease the discomfort of tingling. For example:

  • Massage
  • Keeping your arm elevated
  • Warm compresses
  • Turmeric or Curcumin supplements

Several lifestyle changes are also effective for treating and/or preventing tingling, including:

  • Staying hydrated
  • Limiting intake of caffeine and alcohol
  • Replacing sugary foods with fresh vegetables and fruits
  • Avoiding tobacco
  • Taking supplements that promote blood circulation
  • Implementing cardiovascular exercise at least five times a week

If you notice tingling in your left arm and it doesn't ease after a few minutes of moving or elevating your arm, you should contact your doctor. Emergency medical attention is recommended if tingling is accompanied by:

  • Speech impairment
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty moving
  • Loss of motor control
  • Muscle weakness

For many people, tingling in the left arm is not an emergency medical condition. However, the first step should be to rule out any serious problems. Once you know you are not experiencing a heart attack or stroke, and your doctor has eliminated the possibility of a serious medical condition, you can find ways to treat and hopefully alleviate the tingling.

Resources

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Devon Andre. “Common Causes of Tingling in Left Arm: Simple Exercises and Tips.” Bel Marra Health - Breaking Health News and Health Information, 16 Jan. 2017, www.belmarrahealth.com/tingling-left-arm-common-causes-prevention-tips/

CDC. “Heart Health Information: About Heart Disease.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 14 May 2019, www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/about.htm.

“Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.” American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/carpal-tunnel-syndrome/.

“Buerger’s Disease.” National Organization for Rare Disorders. https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/buergers-disease/.

“What is Osteoporosis and What Causes it?” National Osteoporosis Foundation. https://www.nof.org/patients/what-is-osteoporosis/.

“Pernicious Anemia.” National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/pernicious-anemia

Moore, A et. al. “Oral Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory drugs for neuropathic pain.” The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6481590/

Kulkarni, S and Dhir, A. “An Overview of Curcumin in Neurological Disorders.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2929771/

Dr. Dhingra
Dr. Harshi Dhingra
Medical Reviewer
Dr Harshi Dhingra is a licensed medical doctor with a specialization in Pathology. Dr. Dhingra has of over a decade in diagnostic, clinical, research and teaching work, including managing all sections of Pathology laboratory including histopathology, cytology, hematology and clinical Pathology.
Joel
Content Contributor
Joel is a writer with a passion for the science of DNA and the power of its manipulation.
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