Numbness in the left arm

Patient

Q: Why would my left arm be (there is no pain, just slight numbness). This has been going on for a week now. Here is a little more info: I'm not sleeping on it wrong, I've already determined I'm not leaning on it at work causing pressure. I don't have any other symptoms such as chest pains or nausea, etc.

Doctor

A:   The numbness in your left arm as you described might be due a cervical nerve compression (C7-C8), but it would be important to rule out that cause and also inflammation of the peripheral nerves at the level of the arm and hand. In the younger patients, cervical radiculopathy may be a result of a disc herniation or an acute injury causing impingement of an exiting nerve. In the older patient, cervical radiculopathy is often a result of spinal canal narrowing from bone (osteophyte) formation, decreased disc height and degenerative changes due to aging process. The same described before for the cervical spine applies to the lower back in terms of cause of pain and numbness in the legs, same causes, different spinal level. The treatment strategy usually includes: physical therapy program aimed to reduce pain and inflammation, and the use of anti-inflammatory drugs (as ibuprofen), also a re-education of habits and posture of the patients to improve quality of life. Patients should be independent in a stretching and strengthening program and continue with these exercises under the periodic supervision of a physical therapist initially and then completely on their own. Patients whose conditionfails to improve with a comprehensive rehabilitation program and selective injections should be presented with a surgical evaluation. Often, patients should show progressive improvement over the first 6-8 weeks with conservative treatment. If there is no significant improvement in this time frame, consider a surgical evaluation.

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