I have had pins and needles in my left arm and hand for 3 weeks. Is it a trapped nerve? What is the treatment if so??

The symptoms started approximately 3 weeks ago with tingling in my left arm and hand. It is sometimes accompanied by numbness and acheyness. Over the past week or two I have noticed pain in my left shoulder and also my neck. It (pins and needles and pain) comes and goes a bit in intensity but is always present, even if sometimes only mildly. Sometimes it gets so intense it stops me in my tracks but I wouldn't say it was overwhelmingly awful. There is a background acheyness at times in my forearm. At times the pins and needles can shoot/radiate up the arm from wrist to elbow area - especially if I lean on my hand. The pins and needles are mainly in my index and middle fingers with altered sensation in the pads of those fingers. It hasn't stopped me doing anything and my grip seems ok. At night it is difficult to sleep on my left side as the circulation goes quite quickly and leaves the whole arm numb. May or may not be related but my hands are often cold (normal for me). I did worry at first it was something circulatory - but my pulse seems normal and i have been fine at excersise. So i am suspecting a trapped nerve?? A friend gave me voltarol retard tablets which don't seem to have helped.

Accepted Answer

Date:Jun / 2011

Thank you for your question.

You describe a 3 week history of intermittent 'pins and needles' affecting the arm / fingers as well as numbness, acheyness and left shoulder / neck pain. The intensity of your pain also appears to vary between mild and severe.

Your symptoms may well be the result of a 'trapped nerve' as you suspect. The other possibility is 'peripheral neuropathy', a condition that results from damage to nerves that come out of the spine to supply various parts of the body (e.g., neck, shoulder, arm, hand etc.). Again, this condition can result from various causes such as diabetes, vitamin B12 deficiency, trauma or injury to the nerve such as from irritation of 'impingement' when coming out from between vertebrae due to degenerative conditions or osteoarthritis such as in 'cervical spondylosis', various toxins including alcohol or drugs / medication, or more serious conditions. You can find more detailed information from this web-link: http://www.patient.co.uk/health/Peripheral-Neuropathy.htm and http://www.patient.co.uk/doctor/Cervical-Spondylosis.htm

Given the history and symptoms you describe, I would recommend that you arrange to see your GP for a more detailed history and clinical examination where your doctor is likely to perform neurological examination including distribution of any abnormal or diminished sensation. Based upon direct clinical examination, your doctor may choose to send you for tests (e.g., fasting Glucose, Vit. B12 levels; or X-ray of your cervical spine and/or a chest x-ray). Sometimes, it may be necessary to carry out more specialised investigations such as 'nerve conduction tests' to identify the presence and nature of neuropathy. Depending upon the results of investigations, a referral to hospital specialist such as a neurologist may be considered by your doctor.

I do hope above information is useful to you and would like to wish you good health.

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