Most people panic when they feel tingling in the left arm. And that’s understandable. After all, the tingling sensation is one of the common, best known symptoms of a stroke/heart attack. However, there are many other causes of the tingling sensation. And you shouldn’t instantly panic. Today, I will try to explain all the causes of the tingling, what to do, and when should you consult a doctor. In most cases, the tingling is a sign that your blood flow or your nerve function is interrupted.
When the tingling sensation is a sign of an impending heart attack, you’ll also feel tightness in the jaw or your chest. The best way to describe the pain is a “squeezing sensation.” You just feel a lot of pressure in your chest, and the stress/pressure will start moving to your back and down to your arms.
Another potentially deadly condition is a stroke. When you start feeling a sudden tingling in the left arm, you might be experiencing warning signs of a stroke. This tingling is accompanied by feeling dizzy and lightheaded. One side of your body will start to droop, and you’ll start slurring words. Trouble communicating is a clear sign of a stroke when accompanied by tingling in your left arm.
However, as I said at the beginning, the tingling is not always a sign of a deadly condition. Sometimes, a vitamin deficiency can cause the tingling sensation. This is a sign of a vitamin B12 deficiency. Since this vitamin is vital for healthy brain and nerve function, a deficiency of it will interrupt the blood flow. In addition to the tingling, you’ll feel a strange sensation all over your body.
I already noted that the tingling is a sign of interrupted blood flow. Well, improper circulation is often the cause of the tingling. Sometimes, a harmless thing like a tight piece of clothing can cut off your circulation. Even jewelry can interrupt your circulation. This type of tingling feels like the pins and needles sensation. In addition, sitting and lying in an improper position can cut off blood flow.
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Called CTS, this syndrome is a result of putting too much pressure on your joints. The condition happens when your circulation is oppressed as a result of compressed tissue. If you sit constantly, and have poor posture while doing so, you are that much more prone and susceptible to carpal tunnel syndrome. If you perform activities that are hard on your wrists, you are at risk as well.
Vascular disorder results when your blood vessels are damaged or constricted. The sensation you feel in your left arm is the result of damage in the circulation of the left arm. In addition to the tingling in your left arm, you’ll also notice the tips of your fingers turning blue. In severe cases, you might also experience muscle weakness.
I said at the beginning that tingling can be the result of impaired nerve function and blood flow. We explained circulation earlier, but nerve damage can also cause tingling. And the nerve damage can happen in the spine, neck, or shoulder. Damage in any of these areas will cause the left arm to go numb. Usually, a compressed nerve in the shoulder is a common cause of tingling.
Thoracic outlet syndrome
Cervical rib, poor posture, cervical tumor and growth in the neck region often lead to thoracic outlet syndrome. This condition is accompanied by weakness of your grip, swelling and/or redness of the face, and lack of pulsation in the arm.
Treatments for tingling in left arm
Depending on the cause, there are different treatments for the tingling sensation. Let’s take a look at the treatments you can try.
- For CTS, you need to avoid activities that aggravate your condition. Just sitting in an appropriate posture will reduce the tingling. Make sure to keep your wrists straight as well. Your doctor will even recommend some exercises.
- For vitamin deficiency, the treatment is simple. Just consume more vitamins, and consider taking supplements.
- Injuries in the arm can only be treated with rest. During the recovery time, make sure to avoid straining your left arm. You can place a cold compress on the swollen area.
- When the cause is nerve damage, a change in the diet is the best treatment. Usually, the nerve damage comes from diabetes or similar conditions. Make sure to change your diet so that you improve and regulate your circulation to avoid further damage.
- You can improve your circulation by performing physical activities that improve circulation. You can also target your left arm by lifting weights, swimming, and similar exercises and activities.
- Athletes are very prone to thoracic outlet syndrome, and when the symptoms appear, they are advised to practice certain relaxation techniques.
- There is no way to treat a heart attack or a stroke. The only way to treat these life-threatening conditions is by prevention. You need to make modifications to your lifestyle, like controlling blood sugar and cholesterol.
Exercises for tingling in the left arm
I mentioned at the beginning that certain exercises can help with the condition. That is, unless the cause is an impending heart attack or a stroke.
Acupressure is the most common treatment for tingling. The difference between acupressure and acupuncture is that acupressure uses hand pressure, not needles. By triggering some key points on your arm, you stimulate and support healthy blood flow and circulation. However, only a registered therapist should perform acupressure.
Stretching is something you can do on your own. Stretching promotes oxygen flow, so target your hand, arm, and shoulder to boost circulation.
Last, but not least, perform rotational exercises to increase blood flow. Rotational exercises are actually circular movements.
When to see a doctor
I said earlier that sometimes the tingling in the left arm is a panic button. When the sensation is a symptom of an impending heart attack or stroke, you should visit the doctor instantly. Or call the ER. Here are the symptoms that you should pay attention to:
- You experience tingling accompanied by an altered level of consciousness.
- You are developing progressive weakness.
- You are starting to lose motor and sensory control of your limbs.
- Your symptoms are accompanied by a painful headache.