How to Relieve Numbness in Arm

There are several causes for such a sensation, and remedies to cure the numbness in the arm. At times the cause can be at the muscular level whereas sometimes the cause of numbness may be injury or infection.
HealthHearty Staff
Last Updated: Mar 19, 2018
The most common of the causes of having the sensation of numbness in one's arm is of course, sleeping over it, or sitting or standing while resting your entire weight one it. Well the thing is, in the wee hours of morning when you are having a dream about a nice hot dog or a hamburger, you suddenly feel your arm tingle, have a numb sensation and you wake up. You have lost that delicious hot dog and you are left with a senseless, tingling, numb arm that gives you a wild irritating sensation. Such numbness has been caused because we put a lot of pressure on our arm and cut off the blood circulation through the arteries and veins and the nerve impulses of the local nervous system have stopped temporarily. Plus you have also compressed some of your nerves, in the process. So how do you relieve numbness in arm in such a situation? Simple enough, here's what you can do...
  • One of the most simply idiotic solutions is to just sit down and relax your arm. This remedy should be used only when the severity is low and minor.
  • Secondly, you can try rotating your arm in both clock wise and anti-clock wise direction, or you can just delicately, and mildly swing it.
  • Thirdly, you can massage your arm till you feel the blood circulation in the arm starts again and it comes back alive. Apart from rubbing the arm, some also fist and un-fist their palms and crack their fingers (cracking, not recommended).
It has happened to me a few times, I did the same things to get rid of the numbness mentioned above. Medical sciences have however, proved that there are several other reasons and corresponding remedies for the numbness of one's arm. Though less common, these causes do trouble our arms and it is necessary to get rid of them. Here is a list of the probable causes and their corresponding remedies.

Causes and Cures of Numbness in Arm

In such a situation, the chief reason that why we do not feel our arm, lose the sense and the arm becomes completely numb is that the nerves in that very part of our body have lost contact with the nervous system and hence, this causes the brain, nervous system and the entire body to go 'hello? You there? No!', that's exactly what happens. Before we know how to relieve numbness in arm, we need to know what caused the numbness.

1. Musculoskeletal Causes
The word, musculoskeletal means 'of or relating to muscles and skeleton'. There are several different, injuries, disorders, syndromes and causes which would cause the arm to go blank. The following are the ones which are quite commonly observed.
  • Arthritis is the swelling of joints which affects the movement of all the tissues and organs that surround the joint. Arthritis is usually treated by occupational and physical therapy. Plus medications such as acetaminophen and anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen are also used to treat arthritis. To get rid of numbness, simple physical and occupational therapy based exercises are the best. However, avoid trying anything on your own and for better diagnosis and treatment consult a therapist or a physiotherapist.
  • Cervical Spondylosis (degenerative Osteoarthritis), in simple words is a condition where in the nerves traveling along the spinal cord, especially in between vertebrae of the neck are affected. Here the signal or impulse that travels through the nervous system and keeps the brain connected to the rest of the body gets weakened. There are some other common symptoms, such as loss of sensation, motor skills, balance, blood flow, etc. The loss of sensory abilities is often attributed to the numbness in the arm. Common treatments include, chiropractic, osteopathy, physiotherapy, osteopathic manipulative medicine, massages, trigger-point therapy and Non-steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs). In extreme cases, surgery is also undertaken. One of the best ways, as recommended by many doctors is to modify one's lifestyle and opt for common and natural treatment, such as physical and occupational therapies.
  • Injury/Fracture/Infection/Trauma/Dislocation provide us with a wide spectrum of possibilities which would make one's arm numb. The injury can be potentially in several places from where the nerve passes. In some cases, an injury can cause peripheral neuropathy, i.e. nerve damage. In such cases, only an orthopedic doctor or surgeon would be able to help you out. The treatment will phase in two parts, namely, the first phase, which would be used to cure the traumatized body part and the second phase which will involve some or the other therapy which would slowly give you back the sensation and strength. The damage to the arm is like the breaking of the bulb's filament and you have to wait and do some physical therapy so that the nerves revive, regrow and you get back the strength in muscles.
  • Diabetes/Hypertension are sometimes attributed causes of numbness in arms and hands. Both the diseases are capable of causing neuropathy or mononeuropathy, where nerves get damaged and the symptom of numbness in limbs, palms and hand may be experienced. Similarly, loss of blood flow in hypotension (opposite of hypertension) causes the loss of blood flow in the limb, which leads to numbness. Medication and physical therapy can be used to get rid of such numbness.
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a cause whose frequency and probability is rapidly growing. The weakness, numbness and a tingling sensation is brought about as a result of abnormally high pressure on median nerve of the wrist, which facilitates hand movement. Wearing a splint at night, hand exercises, occupational therapy, some mild medication and surgery in extreme cases are common treatments. Carpal tunnel is also attributed to arm numbness during pregnancy.
2. Systemic Causes
Now musculoskeletal causes were the ones that specifically affect the arm or the nerves, muscles or bones (hence the term musculoskeletal) in the arm. However there are some conditions which affect almost the entire organ, body or all the limbs.
  • Deficiency of crucial nutrients such as proteins, iron, calcium, phosphorus and some others, can cause numbness in arm. Such a numbness may also be a cause of deficiency disorders.
  • Angina/Heart Condition Angina and several heart or cardiac diseases and disorders are known to cause loss of oxygen in some organs, especially the ones which are away from the heart, such as your arm.
In both the aforementioned cases, the numbness is a secondary symptom. Therapy, mild medication and working on the actual cause are the treatments which are used.

3. Paresthesia
Paresthesia is a medical condition where the skin of a person goes kind of blank and numb. This condition may be transient or chronic, i.e. short term or long term. Paresthesia is caused by a number of reasons which include, infections, vitamin deficiency, some syndromes such as the carpal tunnel, menopause and even exposure to poison and alcoholism. The entire list is actually enormous. Common medications include, immunosuppressant prednisone, intravenous gamma globulin, anticonvulsants, antiviral medication, etc. Apart from that, some topical medications such as Lidocaine or Prilocaine are also used. Small physical therapy based exercises such as rocking one's neck, hand, feet, arm, shoulder, wrist and finger motion and small exercises are often used to revive one's arm.

In case if you are repeatedly experiencing any of the aforementioned problems and symptoms, it's time to visit the doctor. Also do not avoid or procrastinate going to the doctor and do not try any self medication, exercise and therapy without appropriate supervision of your doctor.