What is arm numbness?

Arm numbness is an abnormal condition in which you feel a loss of sensation in one (unilateral) or both (bilateral) arms. The sensation may extend over the length of the arm and into the hands and fingers.

Arm numbness usually arises from a lack of blood supply to an area or nerve damage. Arm numbness can also result from infection, inflammation, trauma, malignancy, and other abnormal processes. Most cases of arm numbness are not due to a life-threatening condition.

Arm numbness is often associated with or preceded by pain-like pins-and-needles, prickling, or burning sensations called paresthesias. Whereas arm numbness is a loss of sensation, paralysis involves a loss of movement, with or without the loss of sensation in the area.

Depending on the cause, the loss of sensation can disappear quickly, such as numbness from extremely cold temperatures that will fade away once you move to a warmer environment. Numbness can occur suddenly or progress slowly. Chronic arm numbness generally indicates some level of damage to the nerves. Arm numbness may also be worse at night, which is common for paresthesias in general.

Because numbness in the arm or numbness in general may be a symptom of a disease, disorder or condition, you should talk with your medical professional about any unusual sensations or arm numbness that lasts more than a few minutes.

If you experience arm numbness with paralysis, confusion, arm or hand weakness, or slurred speech, seek immediate medical attention. If your arm numbness is persistent, recurrent, or causes you concern, contact a medical professional.


What other symptoms might occur with arm numbness?

Arm numbness may occur with other symptoms or a combination of symptoms. For example, numbness, tingling and itchiness in combination may be symptoms of multiple sclerosis. Arm numbness due to a bulging cervical disk (in your neck) can be associated with extreme pain that extends down the shoulder, arm, and certain fingers.

Symptoms that may occur along with arm numbness

... Read more about arm numbnesssymptoms


What causes arm numbness?

Arm numbness can be a symptom of a wide variety of diseases, disorders or conditions that either restrict blood flow or cause injury to the nerves.

Temporary arm numbness can occur after prolonged pressure on a nerve or nerves, such as due to fine motor activities (drawing) or sleeping the wrong way on your arm.

Arm numbness can occur with moderate to serious orthope... Read more about arm numbnesscauses

Medical Reviewer: Cynthia Haines, MD Last Annual Review Date: Jul 29, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

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