Left arm numbness can be a symptom of many different things. Some of them are quite serious while others are not that worrisome. For instance, it can be a symptom of alcoholism, multiple sclerosis, a heart attack or a variety of other less serious ailments. This article is not intended to provide medical advice, but it will explain some of the most common reasons that may cause a person to experience left arm numbness. If you are unsure of why you are feeling a tingling in your arm, you should seek medical attention immediately.

When Not to Worry

Because numbness and tingling can be so common, it can be difficult to interpret numbness. If a person cannot think of an immediate reason for these symptoms, they may wish to call a doctor to discuss the matter.

Some simple things that are known to cause left arm numbness include recent injuries or sleeping on the arm. If a person has not recently experienced one of these problems, they need to start looking for other possible causes. In the worst case scenario, this feeling could be a sign of a heart defect or it could signify that the person is having a heart attack. However, as explained below, it could mean many other things as well.

Other Potential Arm Numbness Causes

Nerve Damage

A tingling in the left arm could be related to a problem with your spine. In particular, you may be having a problem with one of your neck disks. Pain in the lower part of the arm usually corresponds to damage of the C6/C7 disks while tingling in the upper left arm usually correlates to damage of the C4/C5 or C5/C6 disks. The ulnar nerve could also be causing this feeling. If it is a pinched ulnar nerve, you will likely feel pain that runs along the inside of the arm down to the pinky.

If pinched nerves or disks are causing this problem, you may need to speak with a pain specialist or a neurologist. Ultimately, you may need to look into the possibility of scheduling a surgery with a neurosurgeon.

Heart Attack

If the left arm numbness is being caused by a heart attack, you may feel other sensations as well. For instance, you may feel heaviness in your chest. This can feel like someone is sitting on your rib cage, and it may be accompanied with a shortness of breath. You may have this feeling on the same day that your arm hurts, or you may notice it for a few weeks leading up to this event. In addition, you may feel nauseous, sweaty, or generally sick.

These symptoms when combined with arm numbness often are a sign of an impending heart attack. However, even without these other symptoms, a person may be in trouble. Some heart attacks are not accompanied by pain. Most women, for example, do not experience much pain during their heart attacks. The pain could be something as simple as bursitis or tennis elbow, or it could be a symptom of a heart attack. It is always better to be safe rather than sorry. If you have any doubts about what it causing this issue, you should contact your physician immediately.

When to Seek Help for Left Arm Numbness

As indicated above, this condition could be the cause of many different things. With some things so minor and some so major, it can be difficult to know when to seek medical help. The Mayo Clinic has published a list of symptoms to look for when experiencing tingling. According to their doctors, you should call 911 or head to the emergency room right away if your experience meets any of the following conditions along with your numbness:

  • If it begins suddenly without warning
  • If it happens after a head injury
  • If it encompasses the whole arm or the whole leg

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms on the list below, you should also seek emergency medical attention:

  • Feeling weak or unable to move (paralyzed)
  • Feelings of confusion
  • Experiencing difficulty speaking
  • Feeling dizzy or disoriented
  • An unexplained headache with a sudden onset

However, according to the Mayo Clinic, you do not always need to seek immediate attention. If you are not experiencing the symptoms outlined above, you may be okay for the moment. However, it you are experiencing any of the following issues, you should call your physician and schedule an office visit:

  • If the left arm numbness begins gradually rather than suddenly
  • If the numbness gets gradually worse feeling
  • If the numbness is not just on the left side but is on both sides
  • If it appears and disappears
  • If you can identify that it is being caused by certain actions especially if it is caused by repetitious things that you must do everyday
  • If it only affects part of your left arm like your fingers or the upper or lower part

What to Expect at the Doctors Office

Left Arm Numbness

Left Arm Numbness

The doctor will ask you a number of questions about your left arm numbness, and they will base their treatment on your answer. They may subject you to a variety of tests including x-rays. If you have suffered a recent head injury or if they suspect a tumor or a stroke, they may even order a CT scan or an MRI.

Left arm numbness can indicate a variety of things. To be certain that you are not in danger, you should contact a medical professional and discuss your situation.


  1. http://wiki.answers.com/Q/ What_does_tingling_and_numbness_in_your_left_arm_mean#ixzz1gZfvjZGP
  2. Mayo Clinic