Dear Ask The Doctor: Dear Doctor, Back in Sept. 2006 I woke up with left arm numbness. I was seen by two different neurologist, a cancer doctor, a physical therapist, and had a bunch of test ran. The only test that came to show anything was an EMG which showed my nerves were fine, but concluded I had deteriorating muscle, but they could not link that issue to numbness in my left arm. After all the testing I was told in the future maybe it would get worse and they could pinpoint where the problem was, so the numbness in my left arm has never gone away, but also has never spread. Two days ago I started experiencing what feels like electrical shocks in the left part of my head. I can't pinpoint it to just one spot, because the shocks happen in different spots but only on the left side of my head. I do not take any medications and recently I have only had quite the earache in my left ear. I would like to know is the possible cause for these electrical shocks be the same thing that could be causing my left arm numbness? I should state that I am a 21 year old female with no major medical history except for the left arm numbness.
Dear Carrie: Based on your description, these symptoms might be due to a nerve compression that may be producing an inflammatory process that affects the nerve roots (neuritis) in the cervical spine (stenosis, degenerative hypertrophy of facets and disc herniations and bulging) In the younger patients, as yourself, cervical radiculopathy may be a result of a disc herniation or an acute injury causing impingement of an exiting nerve. In the older patient, radiculopathy is often a result of spinal canal narrowing from bone (osteophyte) formation, decreased disc height and degenerative changes due to aging process. It can be associated or not to other symptoms as neck pain radiated or not to upper extremities, numbness of arms and hands or hypoactive reflexes. I strongly recommend you to get a re evaluation with your doctor to rule out first of all a possible cervical nerve compression.