This content is sponsored by Virginia Spine Institute
We’ve all been there – we catch a few zzz’s only to wake up with a tingling or numb sensation in our arms. While that may be a “normal” reaction when falling asleep on your arms, what’s not “normal” is when that tingling, numbness, or pain in your arm persists! This could be the sign of something more serious.
“It may just seem like a mild annoyance, but don’t underestimate unusual sensations in your arms,” says Dr. Michael Hasz, Spine Surgeon at Virginia Spine Institute. “Make sure to specifically identify where you are experiencing these sensations so you can get to the root of your arm numbness or tingling.”
WHAT’S WITH THE TINGLING IN MY THUMB, INDEX AND MIDDLE FINGERS?
We’ve all woken up during the night with our hand “falling asleep” and then have to shake it in order for the tingling and numbness to go away. If that sensation is due to pinched nerves in the wrist, there should not be any pain or numbness in the elbow or shoulders; the symptoms should be isolated to the hands or wrists. This sensation is often related to irritation of the nerve at the wrist and could be a result of carpal tunnel syndrome. This condition can occur from excessive pressure on the wrist, like if you spend countless hours writing or typing on the computer.
This sensation can be treated by resting the nerve or wrist through the use of a wrist splint, taking anti-inflammatory medications, and occasionally doing injections around the wrist to help decrease inflammation. Physical therapy can also help decrease inflammation, but if it is not effective, surgery will take pressure off the nerves.
WHAT’S WITH THE NUMBNESS IN MY FOREARM, RING & PINKY FINGER?
There are three main nerves in your arm, with the ulnar nerve running near the elbow joint. Numbness in the forearm, ring, and pinky finger could occur if this nerve is pinched, stretched, or irritated. This irritation is called cubital tunnel syndrome. Non-operative treatments include resting and bracing — however surgery may be indicated to decompress the nerve if non-operative treatments are not successful.
WHAT’S WITH THE PAIN RADIATING DOWN MY ENTIRE ARM?
If you are experiencing numbness and tingling radiating down the entire arm, often accompanied by pain around the shoulder blade, shoulder, arm, hand, and fingers, this may be related to a pinching of nerves in the neck. Some people will find that placing their hand above their head will take pressure off the nerve and relieve some of their arm and shoulder pain. Others find that tilting their head one way or the other causes the pain to improve or worsen. This may be a sign of nerve irritation due to a disc herniation or arthritic spur in the neck. These are symptoms of cervical radiculopathy.
Initially, cervical radiculopathy is treated with non-operative, conservative treatments with a goal of decreasing inflammation with medication and/or rest. Cervical traction can also help take pressure off the nerve briefly, which may help to decrease inflammation around the nerve. However, if the non-operative treatments are not effective, surgical intervention may be indicated to take pressure off the nerve.
DON’T DELAY — GET TO THE ROOT OF THE ISSUE!
If you have tingling or numbness in the arms, it is important to specifically identify where you are experiencing pain to better understand where it is originating. Pinching of the nerve in the wrist, elbow, or neck can all cause different symptoms and they need to be treated with unique approaches. In most cases these symptoms can be treated non-operatively. For the surgical candidates, most are back to all activities within a couple of weeks or months and most are back to normal activity after a full recovery.
If you are experiencing tingling or numbness, be sure to see a specialist to get to the root of the problem. Don’t delay! Click here to schedule or call us today at 703.709.1114.