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I am wondering why my right arm randomly goes numb for no reason at all. I don't lift anything heavy or anything of that sort, so what could it possibly be?
August 5, 2007 6:21 PM   Subscribe

I am wondering why my right arm randomly goes numb for no reason at all. I don't lift anything heavy or anything of that sort, so what could it possibly be? Some of my friends seem to think these are early signs of a possible stroke or a heart attack but I can't really buy that since I am 22 years old, fairly relaxed with a normal amount of a stress than any college student would have. I also take no medications, I live a fairly normal lifestyle.
posted by cheero to Health & Fitness (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Can you describe the numbness a little more? Is this like your arm "falling asleep", or something else?
posted by mdonley at 6:22 PM on August 5, 2007


Numb? Like loss of sensation (incl. pain and/or temperature?) or tingling/pins-and-needles?
posted by ruwan at 6:23 PM on August 5, 2007


Depending on HOW numb, this could just be the result of lugging around a heavy backpack over your right shoulder. I think this might be a good time to visit your student health center, to be sure.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:26 PM on August 5, 2007


I get the tingly feeling all over my arm and it feels like my fingers are not quite there. It last up to two hours. It somewhat feels like the blood inside my arm is boiling then it turns very cold out of nowhere.
posted by cheero at 6:26 PM on August 5, 2007


Is it the whole arm, or is it just the outside of your palm and your little finger?

If it's the latter, then it's because you're applying pressure to a place on your elbow that's compressing a nerve.

I did that to myself about ten years ago. I drove home from Vegas, and spent the entire trip with my elbow resting on the ridge next to the window on my car door. By the time I got home, I had exactly the numbness I just described, and it's come and gone ever since. (In fact, right now it's a bit numb.)
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 6:29 PM on August 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Do you spend a lot of time at a computer? I think (IANAD) that this can be caused by bad posture and arm position over the keyboard.
posted by charlesv at 6:37 PM on August 5, 2007


I was always under the impression that the arm pain associated with a heart attack was in the *left* arm.

Aside from the pressure backpack/desk pressure possibility, what's your diet like? Potassium defiencies can cause some seemingly weird nerve symptoms. You could get it checked out with a simple blood test.
posted by CKmtl at 6:39 PM on August 5, 2007


Go to a doctor.
posted by mzurer at 6:44 PM on August 5, 2007


Is it the whole arm, or is it just the outside of your palm and your little finger?

If it's the latter, then it's because you're applying pressure to a place on your elbow that's compressing a nerve.


And if it's the former, it could just be compression higher up (at the spinal level). A chiro can probably fix it up for you, though if you're worried about the nastier things, see a doctor.
posted by kisch mokusch at 6:46 PM on August 5, 2007


It could be a pinched nerve in your spine.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 6:48 PM on August 5, 2007


Do you get it at night, too? It may also be that your mattress is too hard or your pillow is wrong. You may be pinching your neck or shoulder at night, which could be pinching a nerve. You could also be sleeping on your stomach with your head to the side, pinching a nerve as you twist your neck. Try a thinner pillow and a soft mattress pad, then sleep on your back or side (worked for me...).
posted by Eringatang at 7:00 PM on August 5, 2007


Pinched nerve, likely in your back.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:14 PM on August 5, 2007


Uh, what monkey salted nuts said, I mean.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:14 PM on August 5, 2007


What Steven C. Den Beste said--- I have the same symptom. In my case, I had outpatient surgery and spent a day or two sleeping off the effects.... and during that time the post comfy position was with my elbow at an odd angle. Both arms were numb in both the little finger and half the ring finger, but the left hand got all better while the right hand still hasn't gotten the feeling back (after three years).

The brain is an amazing organ, though.... I have *some* feeling, but it is still all tingly and numb. My brain has adjusted to ignore that most of the time, and I've devloped some secondary feeling in those fingers now.
posted by Doohickie at 7:16 PM on August 5, 2007


I was freaking out that I was having serious neurological issues because my arm kept falling asleep during the day, and my mom has MS, so I was paranoid. But I talked to a neurologist about it, and he said it was probably because I often slept on my side. I started sleeping on my back, and it stopped happening - there was no longer pressure on the nerves on that arm. I even had a "peripheral neuropathy test" which showed things were fine.

Sometimes hypochondria is warranted. But usually there's a simpler answer.
posted by mdn at 7:18 PM on August 5, 2007


I think Steven C Den Beste nailed it. Sometimes this happens to me in my right arm only, usually when I spend long hours at a desk where I have a bad habit of leaning on my elbow on my right hand as I use the mouse.
posted by 4ster at 7:24 PM on August 5, 2007


This can also be a symptom of a panic attack. Even a very mild one that you don't notice.

You really should go to a doctor either way. Heart attacks are getting more and more common in young people.
posted by trishthedish at 7:28 PM on August 5, 2007


A good physiotherapist or osteopath would probably be your best best to get this fixed.

Also, make sure you're not regularly doing anything ergonomically outrageous, like spending hours looking at a computer monitor that's not right in front of you.
posted by flabdablet at 8:03 PM on August 5, 2007


For future reference, this is also called cubital tunnel syndrome; the fingers affected are the pinky and the outside of the ring finger, as doohickie says.
posted by katemonster at 8:31 PM on August 5, 2007


Just for the record - my symptoms weren't quite the same as yours (my right arm AND leg felt really heavy, not numb) but it turned out it really was the early sign of a stroke - a TIA, or mini stroke. I was 28 at the time, with no reason whatsoever to suspect stroke or anything related; stroke is actually rather common in younger people as well. I too thought it was a pinched nerve - I couldn't have been more wrong.

Get thee to a doctor, just in case. You can't be too careful when it comes to these things.
posted by cgg at 9:25 PM on August 5, 2007


Again, backing up Steven C. Den Beste. I got my arm run over by a Jeep and had the ulnar nerve compressed. My pinkie, the pinkie-side of the ring finger, and the corresponding part of my palm were numb for weeks while the nerve regrew the smooshed part. (getting over the palm bruising and the big ugly slash on my arm took a lot longer.)
posted by notsnot at 3:58 AM on August 6, 2007


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