Left Arm Pain and Tingling

Pain and tingling in the left arm scare most of us as it is one of the symptoms of heart attack. However, it can happen due to a number of other causes as well. In this article, you will get more information about it.
HealthHearty Staff
Last Updated: Jun 3, 2018
Even when we feel a mild pain and tingling in the left arm, the first thing that comes to our mind is, maybe, it is the initial symptom of a heart attack. Although there are several other factors that can trigger it. Some people have tingling pain regularly while others may experience it all of a sudden. If you get it quite frequently, then you can rule out the possibility of a heart attack and look out for other causes that can lead to such a condition.
Sudden pain and tingling on the left side of the body that include the left arm and leg is a warning sign of another serious health condition, stroke. It can be identified with severe headache, dizziness, blurred vision, mental confusion, loss of body balance, etc.
When one or more intervertebral discs in the neck is not in alignment with the others in the spine, the bulging disc puts extra pressure on the nerves in the nearby area. This condition of pinched nerve triggers tingling pain of the left arm again and again. If the nerves of the left arm get inflamed due to carpal tunnel syndrome (compression of the median nerve in the left wrist) or tennis elbow, then also one may experience these painful symptoms.
The pain and tingling may occur because of bad circulation as sufficient amount of blood fails to reach the arms. Our body releases different chemicals under the influence of mental stress which prompts the heart to pump blood faster. This often results in pain, numbness and tingling in the left arm. Other possible causes are awkward movement of arms, underactive thyroid, side effects of medicines, multiple sclerosis, etc.
First of all, check whether your lying or sitting posture is giving any pressure on your left arm or shoulder. This kind of pressure gives a "dead arm" sensation which will be relieved once you change your posture. Those cases where the pain is increasing and other symptoms are showing up, the patient requires emergency medical help. For recurrent pain, you should consult the doctor who will diagnose the exact cause. If the skin is cold to the touch, then it is mostly diagnosed as bad circulation problem. It is not a serious issue as heart attack but it should be given proper medical treatment. The medical history and lifestyle of the patient are also taken into account for proper diagnosis of the problem.
In emergency medical conditions like heart attack or stroke, the patient should be hospitalized. In all other cases, measures are taken to provide relief from the pain. Doctors often advise these patients to keep their left arm at rest so that the pressure on the muscles and nerves of the arm can be minimized. Those activities, like, writing, typing, swimming, etc. and sports like tennis or bowling that put pressure on the arm need to be stopped. If doctors feel that the affected hand should be kept in immobilized condition, then they recommend use of a splint.
There could be swelling in the arm due to tennis elbow or carpal syndrome. In that case cold compression by wrapping up ice in a cloth often helps. Ice application for 10-20 minutes daily can bring down the inflammation. When the pain is related to any muscle injury, hot compression with a heating pad is beneficial. For a more severe pain, doctors prescribe pain killers, like, aspirin or ibuprofen. In some cases, steroid injections are given.
Left arm pain and tingling may or may not be a serious health issue. However, no need to panic as all the health problems related to it can be cured. You just have to be proactive in identification of the cause and get the treatment done as soon as possible so that it does not get aggravated.