What could be causing the numbness on one side of my body?


Q: Hello Im a 19 year old female and I have been experiencing numbness on the left side of my body. Mostly my arm , shoulder and upper back and my leg as well sometimes I even get random pain chests and the other side of my body will get numb but mostly it's the left side. I had my son 15 months ago I got the epidural but they did not do it right. They ended up leaving a hole in my spinal cord which caused me to get really bad headaches, stiffness in my neck and shoulders. I returned to the ER three days after being discharged and they had given me morphine for the pain and said I was leaking spinal fluid. Instead of fixing the problem they ended up taking even more spinal fluid out and sent me home and prescribed me caffein pills. Three days later I returned to the ER due to a seizure like attack I got from all the pain I was suffering from. Now 15 months later Im still in pain however now my left side of my body is becoming numb I went to the doctor today and they scheduled an appointment with a neurologist. Until my insurance approves it is when I will find out what exactly is wrong, but im still experiencing the numbness even as I am typing this and it's become severe enough that I can't sleep. Should I go in to the ER and get it checked out asap or wait for my appointment? There's definitely something wrong im just wondering if it's something I need to get taken care of now and what it can possibly be.


A:   From what you described, I think it would still be reasonable if you wait for your appointment. I do know where you are coming from. You are a bit traumatized of what happened to you over a year ago. Numbness is a very non-specific symptom. I think you are being referred to a neurologist so that the exact cause of the numbness can be identified. Neurologic symptoms that needs immediate attention are sudden blurring of vision, seizures, loss of consciousness, slurred speech, delirium, confusional state, one sided paralysis or weakness, walking disturbances or unable to maintain balance while walking, severe headaches, to name a few. It is also unlikely you are having a TIA because symptoms resolve in a span of 24 hours; your symptoms worsen and improve. Heart conditions would usually present with generalized weakness, not one-sided numbness. If you develop any of these symptoms together with the numbness then you should go to the emergency department promptly. Your problem could range anywhere from electrolyte abnormalities (abnormal levels of calcium or sodium or potassium in blood), musculoskeletal disorders, brain mass or spinal tumor, blood clots clogging certain areas of your brain, etc. I am not trying to scare you; these are only considerations and a neurologic physical exam by a doctor can already tell a lot of things. Your doctor just wants to make sure your numbness does not have a serious underlying condition that is why he referred you to a neurologist. Just observe the numbness for now but if you do feel worse or additional symptoms appear, go to ER right away. I do hope I have appeased your concern and take care always.

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