Arm Numbness while Sleeping, Tingling and Pain

The arms and hands play an important role in your daily function. That is why when you feel some pain or numbness in them; it can be very hard to handle them. It is also frustrating to know that this part of the body is not functioning the way it should be. Thus, what can you do about arm numbness? The answer lies on what you know about it; the cause, diagnosis, treatment and prevention. The succeeding paragraph presents the things you should know about arm numbness while sleeping, tingling and pain. Read on.

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Numbness refers to the loss of feeling or sensation. The chief culprit of numbness is nerve damage usually preceded or associated with unusual pain-like sensation often characterized as pins-and-needles, burning or tingling sensations. As with arm numbness, it is the loss of sensation at the arm, fingers and hand. Although the condition itself is not considered as a disease, yet it is a sign of some health problems. This happens when you place excessive pressure onto the arms or sleep throughout the night with just one position that damages the blood vessels or nerves in your arm. Besides, there are factors that contribute to numbness of the arms. However, mild cases can be settled with some form of arm exercises while in severe cases, medical attention is highly advised.

Arm Numbness Causes

Did you know that some daily activities can cause numbness in your arm? Well then, here are some of those daily activities that cause arm numbness and tingling?

  1. Sleeping with one or both hands underneath the head.
  2. Carrying bag, backpack or wearing straps.
  3. Puffed up cuff when getting blood pressure.
  4. Sitting with suspended arm at the back of the chair.
  5. Elevating the hands over the level of your heart inhibit proper blood perfusion onto the hands resulting to numbness or even partial paralysis for a several minutes.
  6. Under cold weather, arteries in the fingers and hands narrows down and prevent proper blood supply.

Aside from the daily activities, some conditions also contribute to experiencing arm numbness such as:

  1. Diabetic Neuropathy – This is mainly a nerve inflammation or damage because of diabetes. Diabetic neuropathy affects the feet, legs, hands and arms of poorly-managed diabetic patients.
  2. Arm fracture – Broken arm is the primary cause of numbness in the arms. The arms consists of three primary bones namely; ulna (internal forearm bone), radius (external forearm bone) and humerus (shoulder-to-elbow bone). Even if only one of these bones is broken, it results to numbness associated with sharp pain.
  3. Peripheral Vascular Disorder – Is a disorder in blood circulation that occurs because of fat accumulation at the wall of the blood vessels causing numbness associated with cramping, pain and weakness at the arm as blood flow decreases.
  4. Carpel Tunnel Syndrome – It is a nerve injury at the wrist and often seen on those working with repetitive or rhythmic hand movements like weight lifting and typing.
  5. Ganglion Cysts – The tendon is covered by a band or string of unyielding tissue which connects the muscle onto the bone. Once this covering becomes inflamed and developed a tumor, it is called ganglion cysts. This non-cancerous tumor that abruptly develops over time does not require any medical treatment. However, it could be eliminated through surgical procedure whether for cosmetic purposes and once it begins to affect bone movement. Read more about Ganglion Cyst.
  6. Brachial Plexus Injury – A set of nerve-carrying signals from the spinal column to the hand, arm and shoulder is known as brachial plexus. Once this nerve-carrying signal gets injured or damaged either by strenuous activities or accident, this results into numbness of the arm, pain, as well as tingling sensation.

Diagnosis of numbness in the arm

Diagnosing arm numbness mainly involves knowing the history in which the condition started, arm weakness, activities involving the arm, legs or head, history of any neck or arm injury, repetitive use of wrist or elbow, diabetes, cretinism, cold reactions and menopause. Moreover, neurological examination could divulge the nerves affected by examining certain arm dermatome sensitivity.

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Besides, imaging such as x-ray will reveal the underlying condition of any broken bone at the arms and arthritis at the spine of the neck. Aside from x-ray, the doctor may recommend CT and MRI that reveals tumors and other soft tissues.  While Myelography will reveal if the spinal canal has narrowed down and if there is herniated disc. Furthermore, the doctor may conduct nerve studies and Electromiography to examine the nature and characteristics of nerve damage.

This diagnostic method is usually coupled with other imaging method especially in cases of brachial plexus injury to assess the degree of damage. Lastly, blood tests are done with diabetic patients to see any abnormalities in the sugar serum level, hypothyroidism, Vitamins B12 or B6, sex hormones for menopausal women, potassium, magnesium, sodium and calcium.

Arm Numbness Treatment

Resolving arm numbness starts at treating the culprit of numbness. It may involve taking some medication such as non-steroid anti-rheumatic drugs such as antidepressants and ibuprofen that effectively relieve numbness and pain. Besides, physical therapy helps when muscles tendons and bones are already involved. Physiotherapist may suggest some special exercises for a particular nerve disorder while rest and restriction of the entire arm is at times necessary following an injury or whenever joint activities contribute to irritation of the nerve.

However, some use other treatment method such as acupressure, acupuncture and Trans Cutaneous Nerve Stimulation (TENS), though these are still being debated in the medical world. Nonetheless, several ointments are used by many that momentarily relieve the burning and tingling sensation of numbness.

Prevention of Arm Numbness and Tingling Pain

The best protection against numbness of the arm and keeping it from getting worse is prevention. Here are some useful prevention tips.

  1. It is best to put on warm gloves during cold weather.
  2. Avoid resting your elbows for extended period especially if you work with computer.
  3. Avoid placing your arms or hands under the pillow or head.
  4. As much as possible, do not use mechanical screwdrivers.
  5. Avoid suspending your arms at the back of the chair to inhibit permanent injury.


Although arm numbness is not a serious condition, you should never take it for granted because it could be a sign of other more serious health problems.

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