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Date of last update: 10/20/2017.

Forum Name: Hypertension

Question: Numbness in Arm

 BrittanyLouise - Mon Sep 22, 2008 10:31 pm

Lately my right arm has been getting pretty numb. One way of describing it is that it feels like I am not getting circulation to it. It will start in my forearm and the numbness continues down my arm. I am not sure what it could me. If I place my arm over my head the numbness will go away, also if I rub it it feels like the circulation is moving again. Any ideas on what this may be?
 John Kenyon, CNA - Tue Sep 30, 2008 9:01 pm

User avatar Hi there -

From your description of the numbness and the way it comes on and goes away, it would seem you have some orthpedic problem which is causing pressure on either a nerve in your arm and/or the blood supply serving it. The most common cause of this is probably thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS), in which one of the major nerves serving your arm and hand, as well as blood supply to the arm, pass between the collar bone and the first (top) rib. If these bones become too close together (often due to something as simple as poor posture or sometimes one is born with a tendency toward this and as the patient grows the bones become too close together and in either case, this causes pressure on the nerve and/or the blood vessels, and the arm (usually the forearm, sometimes the "pinky" side of the hand, as well) can go numb. Raising it above one's head with this problem usually will cause a cutting off of the blood supply, but since raising it reverses the numbness for you, I still believe this is a very likely cause of your problem, and that it is simply working in reverse in your case.

There are other orthopedic possibilities as well, and they all should be explored if this becomes a chronic problem (look also for puffiness of the fingers and/or hand of the affected arm with TOS). It is certainly not heart-related, as it can be corrected by movement of the arm.

I hope this is helpful to you. Please follow up with us as needed.

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