New Health Guide

Numbness and Tingling in the Right Arm

Jul 07, 2017

Numbness in arm suggests abnormal or altered sensation in the right arm that may involve the proximal part or may extend to involve entire length of right arm. Most cases are seen in temporary or permanent shortage of blood supply, but sometimes damage to nerve may also present with arm numbness. Other common causes include malignancy, infection, inflammatory process or moderate to severe trauma.

Causes and Treatments of Right Arm Numbness

Below is a list of some common causes and treatment options that can be employed to manage the issue.

1. Pinched Nerves

Pinched nerve is seen in the setting of inflammatory or traumatic incidents that involve trunks or branches of brachial plexus at the level of shoulder or when the nerve travels in the upper limb. Common causes of pinched nerve include excessive pressure on the nerves as a result of trauma to cartilage, bones, muscles and tendons that causes irritation or inflammation of nerve sheath and may present with painful movements across the upper right limb along with numbness and altered sensations.

The management of pinched nerve depends upon the primary pathology. Most helpful treatment options include physical therapy that helps in relieving the pressure from the nerve by restoring normal anatomy of supporting tissues. For severe pain and discomfort pain killers, corticosteroid therapy and narcotic analgesics can be employed. More severe cases of numbness may respond to surgical methods that aim at removing stress and strain from the tissues by relieving pressure from the nerve sheath.

2. Stroke

If stroke affects the part of brain that controls the activities of upper limb, paralysis, weakness or numbness may occur. As a result of neurological damage to brain tissue due to impaired blood supply, loss of consciousness is the most common symptoms that follows severe sudden episode of headache. Paralysis is mostly one sided, i.e. right sided paralysis (paralysis of right arm and/ or leg) is due to stroke induced brain damage of left brain and vice versa, but symptoms may overlap, depending upon the blood vessel involved and part of brain affected.

Most cases of stroke require emergent and urgent medical attention that must be delivered in time. Depending upon the cause of stroke, anti- coagulation therapy (in the form of aspirin and tissue plasminogen activator) can be started in case of ischemic stroke. Management is entirely different for hemorrhagic stroke. That's why extensive radiological testing is required before starting interventive therapy. Most cases respond slowly and gradually to rehabilitation and holistic methods of treatment like physical therapy, speech therapy and strength exercises involving upper limb.

3. Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)

Transient ischemic attack represents vascular issues involving perfusion of brain (that should be taken seriously). Most attacks of TIA last no longer than a couple of hours and usually resolve without leaving any residual deformity. It could cause sudden one-sided numbness or paralysis in the face arm or leg.

If you are experiencing frequent attacks of motor/ sensory weakness or right arm numbness, speak to your healthcare provider for complete evaluation of your medical situation to prevent serious complications. Certain medical drugs like anti- coagulants, blood thinners, diet and exercise modification also helps tremendously.

4. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is seen in cases when median nerve is obstructed or irritated during its passage through the flexor retinaculum at the level of wrist. It may cause numbness in right arm (or left), as well as pain and weakness. Other factors like obesity, pregnancy and soft tissue trauma may also present with features of upper arm numbness.

Lifestyle and diet modification often helps in the management of carpal tunnel syndrome. For more serious symptoms, pain- killers and non- steroidal anti inflammatory agents are most commonly employed.

5. Hyperglycemic Neuropathy

Long standing and uncontrolled high blood sugar levels can increase the risk of inflammation of nerves that may present with numbness and tingling sensation in upper limbs or lower limbs. Hyperglycemia induced neuropathy may present as one of the primary symptoms of diabetes (along with increased urination, weakness and increased thirst) as well as in advanced stages of complications seen in long standing diabetes.

Management of blood sugar levels can help in the management of symptoms.

6. Nutritional Deficiency

Chronic deficiency of some essential vitamins may also present with right arm numbness which includes vitamin B6, B12, B5 and B6, Vitamin D and C along with minerals like calcium, phosphorous and magnesium. Correction of nutritional abnormalities can resolve the problem without needing any other intervention.

7. Other Causes

Pregnancy due to changes in the hormonal environment of the body can affect the circulation of blood, leading to numbness. Migraine headaches and Multiple Sclerosis also produce symptoms of arm numbness due to nervous involvement. Other common causes include Cervical Disc Disease, Herniated Disc and Raynaud's Syndrome.

When to See a Doctor

Right arm numbness is mostly a trivial symptom seen in the setting of minor injury or inflammation of nerve sheath or it may also be a symptom of an ongoing serious organic issue. Consult a doctor or healthcare provider immediately if you are experiencing these symptoms:

  • Alteration in the normal level of consciousness or frequent episodes of dizziness along with nausea and vomiting
  • If you are experiencing double vision
  • If numbness or paresthesia persists for hours
  • If you are experiencing moderate to severe chest pain and respiratory issues
  • If the episodes are associated with a history of head or spinal injury
  • If numbness is also associated with motor deficits or difficulties in the maintenance of bowel or bladder functioning
  • If you are experiencing a rash or changes in the urination pattern