Right Arm Numbness or Tingling: Causes and Home Treatments

Right Arm Numbness or Tingling: Causes and Home Treatments
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Tingling or numbness in the right arm is an annoying condition that affects many people. For most people, a prickly sensation or loss of sensation in their right arm is a temporary irritation. Causes of right arm numbness or tingling are usually nothing to worry about. However, a sudden, recurring, or persistent feeling like your skin is crawling or frequent numbness in your right arm could be a sign of something more serious.

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An abnormal sensation in your right arm could be due to something as simple as falling asleep on your arm, a minor arm injury or poor blood circulation. This can feel like “pins and needles” or it can cause numbness in your whole arm as if your arm has fallen asleep. Sometimes, severe tingling or burning sensations down your right arm could be one of the signs of a cardiac condition that requires prompt medical attention. But usually serious medical conditions that cause tingling or numbness in your arm will be accompanied by other symptoms. Usually, arm tingling or numbness by itself without any other symptoms doesn’t indicate a life-threatening situation.

In this article, you will find out the many causes of having “pins and needles” or a sensation of numbness in your right arm. You will also learn how to resolve some of the health issues that cause arm numbness and when you should see a doctor.

Symptoms of Right Arm Numbness or Tingling

In general, tingling or numbness down your right arm or your left arm is connected with nerves or blood vessels in your shoulder or arm.

The medical name for tingling caused by pressure on a nerve is paresthesia. Doctors from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke say that sustained pressure on a nerve can cause a feeling like your skin is crawling, tingling, numbness, or itching. This prickling sensation usually occurs in the arms, hands, legs, or feet.1

Right arm numbness and tingling can also be accompanied by your arm feeling cold or changing color. According to the University of Maryland, narrowing of the blood vessels can cause poor blood circulation that results in numbness and tingling. However, enlarged blood vessels can also put pressure on nerves that cause the skin to tingle and itch.2

If the cause of the right arm tingling is a serious medical condition, you will usually have other associated symptoms like chest pain, difficulty breathing, or severe weakness in the right arm. So, right arm tingling by itself is not usually a sign of any life-threatening condition.

Right Arm Numbness or Tingling – Causes and Treatments

If you occasionally suffer from numbness or tingling in your right arm or if you have chronic right arm tingling, here are the various causes of the condition.

Falling asleep on right arm

Waking up without any feeling in your right arm or having pins and needles in your arm is usually due to falling asleep on that arm. Sometimes, falling asleep on a chair can cause your arm to become tingly and numb due to pressing your arm against the arm of the chair. When you wake up, you may feel as if your arm is heavy and weak with no sensation in it.

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According to Dr. Carol DerSarkissian on WebMD, sleeping on a crooked arm can put pressure on your arm nerves that cause temporary tingling in the arm. Usually, the “pins and needles” sensation goes away when pressure on the arm is removed.3

Poor blood circulation

Apart from pressure on the nerves causing paresthesia, poor blood circulation can cause tingling in your right arm or left arm. Sometimes, pressure on the right arm for an extended time can cause reduced blood circulation and tingling will occur as blood begins to flow to the arm freely.

According to the Ohio State University, serious medical conditions can cause chronic numbness and tingling in one or both of your arms. For example, high blood pressure, obesity, lack of exercise, heart disease, and high blood cholesterol can cause narrowing of the arteries in the arms and other places in the body. These conditions can all cause numbness or a feeling of heaviness in the arms.4

Other blood vessel-related causes of numbness and pain in one of your arms is inflammation in the blood vessels. According to Johns Hopkins, blood vessel inflammation can be caused by an autoimmune condition or long-term use of corticosteroids.5

There are a number of ways to improve your blood circulation naturally. For example, getting more exercise to boost your heart function, eating healthily to reduce cholesterol, and limiting salt intake all have a positive effect on your circulatory system.

Right arm injury

Tingling and numbness in the right arm could happen as a result of an injury to your arm or shoulder. Depending on the severity of the injury to your right arm, you may have an abnormal sensation of anything from mild tingling to complete loss of feeling. Some injuries to the nerves in your right arm come from overuse of your hands or repetitive strain injury.

According to Dr. William Blahd on WebMD, nerve or blood vessel damage can cause numbness, pins and needles, or a prickly sensation in the affected arm. If you notice signs that your arm has been severely damaged like evidence of a broken bone, not being able to move the arm, or severe pain and swelling, you should seek medical help as soon as possible.6

An injury to your right shoulder could also result in loss of feeling and severe tingling in your right arm. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) reports that brachial plexus injuries can result in loss of sensation, numbness, tingling, and feeling like your arm is heavy.7 The brachial plexus is a network of nerves that originate near the neck and shoulder. Brachial plexus injuries can also cause thoracic outlet syndrome which is mentioned below as the next cause.

According to the AAOS, the tingling sensation and numbness in your arm should disappear as the nerves heal themselves. If the nerve damage has been severe, your doctor may recommend certain procedures to repair the nerve damage.

You can use some natural home remedies to relieve pain while you are recovering from your injury. One popular method is to use rest, ice, compression, and elevation for pain relief – otherwise known as the R.I.C.E. method.

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Thoracic outlet syndrome

Persistent or intermittent tingling in your right arm could be caused by thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS). Thoracic outlet syndrome describes a condition where shoulder nerves get compressed and the abnormal feeling of tingling and numbness travels down your affected arm.

The Journal of Manual and Manipulative Therapy says that injury and bone defects are often the cause of the compression on nerves in the shoulder. The journal says that the symptoms of TOS are sensory changes in the affected limb. Some people report that they wake up at night with tingling in their arms. Thoracic outlet syndrome can also cause arm pain, headaches, chest pain, and tingling in one or all of your fingers.8

One of the causes of thoracic outlet syndrome is cervical rib which is an extra bone that forms above the first rib on the right shoulder or left shoulder. When it presses on nearby nerves and blood vessels, it can cause neck pain, numbness in the arm and other symptoms, which are collectively known as thoracic outlet syndrome.

Doctors from the National Health Service say that a person with a cervical rib often feels a tingling sensation in the affected arm, as well as a loss of sensation, and sometimes pain.9

Pinched nerve in the cervical spine

Pinched nerve in your spinal cord can cause numbness and tingling in your right arm. The cervical spine (neck) is housing the spinal cord that sends messages from the brain to control all aspects of the body.

According to Dr. Melinda Ratini on WebMD, damage to nerves in the cervical spine (neck region of the spine) can cause cervical radiculopathy with symptoms such as pain, weakness, or numbness in the areas served by the affected nerve. Pain can be felt in one area only, like the shoulder (pinched nerve in shoulder), or progress along the entire arm and into the hand and fingers causing numbness and tingling sensation.25

Carpal tunnel syndrome

Another type of nerve damage that can cause numbness and tingling in your lower right arm is carpal tunnel syndrome. Arthritis, repetitive strain injury, diabetes, and pregnancy can cause the median nerve in your hand to get compressed and cause tingling in the right or left hand. According to doctors from WebMD, numbness can sometimes occur in the forearm.10

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders (NINDS) says that apart from tingling in the arms and hands, carpal tunnel syndrome can cause pain in the arm and hands and make it difficult to grip objects. Researchers from NINDS say that you can prevent carpal tunnel syndrome by stretching your hands and wrists, taking frequent breaks, and keeping good posture.11

Diabetic neuropathy

If you are diabetic then there is a chance that nerve damage from diabetes can cause numbness and tingling in one or both of your arms. This is called diabetic neuropathy.

The website diabetes.co.uk says that diabetic nerve damage can affect many diabetes patients. The first symptom of nerve damage is usually numbness in the arms or legs. Some other factors that can aggravate diabetic neuropathy are high blood pressure, obesity, vitamin B deficiency, or high levels of blood fat.12

Depending on the severity of your condition, you may be able to control diabetes by eating a healthy diet. This can help you keep a healthy weight and keep blood sugar levels normal. Also, being physically active, getting proper sleep, getting regular checkups at your doctor can help prevent diabetes.

Related: 13 Early Warning Signs of Diabetes You Shouldn’t Ignore

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Heart attack

Although heart attack symptoms usually cause pain on the left side of your body, a heart attack can also cause a feeling like your skin is crawling and numbness on your right arm. Sometimes chest pain can be caused by a number of conditions like stress, heartburn, or gas. Because chest pain can be cardiac related, you should always visit your doctor if you have pain that comes on suddenly and that radiates to your right or left arm.

Even though your heart is located under your left rib cage, researchers from Harvard Medical say that a heart attack can cause numbness and pain in your right arm or left arm. Along with the arm pain, a heart attack will cause a tight squeezing sensation in your chest, shortness of breath, and possibly nausea and vomiting.13 You may also have other signs of heart attack that you should not ignore.

Did you know that around 80% of heart attacks can be avoided by making some simple lifestyle changes? Regular exercise, enjoying a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, and taking steps to lower your blood pressure can all help to prevent heart disease.

Angina

Another heart-related condition that can cause tingling in your right arm or left arm is angina. When your heart doesn’t receive enough blood and oxygen as it needs, you can get discomfort in your chest. Angina can become a life-threatening condition and you should visit your doctor if you get chest pains when engaging in physical activity or under stress.

According to the American Heart Association, angina attacks can result in numbness and tingling in your arms or shoulders. However, more serious complications of angina are shortness of breath, chest pains that feel as if there is a weight on your chest, and nausea.14

Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a disease of the central nervous system that affects movement, sensation and body functions. Early symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis can affect your left or right arm and cause numbness or tingling.

According to doctors on WebMD, early symptoms of MS include numbness and tingling and weakness in an arm or leg. Other early symptoms may include blurred or double vision, thinking problems, lack of coordination and loss of balance.23

According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, numbness of the arms, legs or face is one of the most common first symptoms of MS. The numbness may be mild or severe.24

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Stroke

Having a tingling feeling in one arm accompanied by weakness sometimes happens with a stroke. Of course, tingling or numbness in one arm isn’t by itself a sign of a serious condition but it will be accompanied by other symptoms.

For example, Dr. Gregory Thompson on WebMD says that sudden numbness, tingling in one arm, and loss of strength can be caused by a stroke. However, there will also be drooping on one side of the face and possible difficulties speaking.15

There are other early warnings of a stroke including loss of vision, loss of balance and coordination, or dizziness. To help lower your risk of suffering a stroke, please read my article on the best life-saving tips for avoiding a stroke.

Other Reasons for Right Arm Numbness and Tingling

Numbness, itching, and tingling in your right arm or left arm can be caused by a number of other medical causes.

Stress and anxiety

One way that stress can affect your body is by causing abnormal sensations in your arms or other parts of your body. The National Health Service says that general anxiety disorder can cause pins and needles and this can also affect your arms.16

Infection

Infections can cause loss of sensation in your right arm as well as tingling from your shoulder to the tips of your fingers. The University of Maryland says that certain infections can cause pressure on nerves in your shoulders that can result in numbness and tingling.2

Autoimmune conditions

Tingling or numbness in the left arm or right arm could be due to certain autoimmune conditions. For example, Dr. Colin Tidy says that Raynaud’s syndrome can cause tingling and numb sensations in the lower part of your arms.17 Also, Sjogren’s syndrome is known to cause prickly sensations in the upper arms and forearms.18

Disease

Certain diseases can cause abnormal sensations in the arms and legs. For example, the University of Maryland says that Lyme disease can result in nerve damage that causes your arms to tingle or feels numb. It is also one of the causes of tingling in head.19 Also, Dr. Laurence Knott on Patient.info says that inflammation in the blood vessels caused by Buerger’s disease can be a reason for tingling sensations in either arm.20

Toxins

Breathing in toxic substances can damage your nerves and make your arm go numb or start tingling. Medscape reports that a crawling sensation in the arms or legs can be due to some toxins.21

Right Arm Numbness – When to See a Doctor

Most of the time, right arm numbness or tingling is a passing sensation that is a temporary annoyance. If the reason is due to compressed nerves or blood vessels, the sensation of feeling in your right arm should return when the pressure is relieved.

Sudden tingling in your right arm or chronic tingling or numbness can indicate a serious medical condition. Even if you have tingling in your right arm or left arm that comes and goes and there is no discernible cause, you should visit your doctor.

If you have numbness and the following conditions, doctors from the Mayo Clinic recommend seeking medical advice promptly:22

  • Your whole arms feel numb and the loss of feeling happens suddenly
  • Numbness in one or more limb is accompanied by severe headaches, confusion, or loss of balance
  • Numbness in your arm doesn’t get better and affects your right side and the left side of your body
  • Numbness, tingling, or weakness in your arms affect your quality of life

Read these related articles:

Article Sources

  1. NINDS. Paresthesia.
  2. UMM. Numbness and tingling.
  3. WebMD. Tingling in hands and feet.
  4. WexnerMedical. Arm artery disease.
  5. HopkinsMedicine. Vasculitic neuropathy.
  6. WebMD. Arm injuries.
  7. OrthoInfo. Brachial plexus injuries.
  8. J Man Manip Ther. 2010 Jun; 18(2): 74–83.
  9. NHS. Cervical rib.
  10. WebMD. Carpal tunnel syndrome.
  11. NINDS. Carpal tunnel syndrome.
  12. Diabetes. Neuropathy.
  13. HealthHarvard. Chest pain: A heart attack or something else?
  14. Heart. What is angina?
  15. WebMD. Stroke symptoms.
  16. NHS. Generalised anxiety disorder in adults.
  17. PatientInfo. Raynaud’s phenomenon.
  18. HopkinsSjogrens. Neurological complications.
  19. UMM. Lyme disease and related tick-borne infections.
  20. PatientInfo. Buerger’s disease.
  21. Medscape. Toxic neuropathy.
  22. MayoClinic. Numbness.
  23. WebMD. Recognize Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms.
  24. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Numbness or tingling.
  25. WebMD. Cervical radiculopathy.
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