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Top 3 Warning Signs That Your Arm Tingling Could be at Risk for Permanent Nerve Damage

Authored by Dr. Colin Haines, MD, FACS. April 6, 2021

Do you have tingling and numbness that radiates down your arms and isn’t going away? Do you completely lose all feeling in your arm during this uncomfortable tingling? There are a few potential causes for this pain, including a pinched nerve in the back, but it’s important to know when to seek treatment. What are the top warning signs that your arm tingling needs attention before permanent damage is done? 

Worsening symptoms, pain, numbness, and weakness is a BIG indicator that treatment is needed. If you wake up with pain and that aching and numbness is still there when you go to sleep, this is an indication that something isn’t right. When it comes to how fast you should seek treatment, it really depends on how bad the pain is. If you are dealing with mild, tolerable weakness and tingling that is not going away on its own, seek treatment after a few days or a week at most. If your arm pain is unbearable, that’s when you need to get help ASAP, as it could be a sign that something very serious is wrong. 

If the symptoms are persistent and don’t gradually improve with at-home care, it’s time to get things looked at by a spine specialist who can properly diagnose and treat the cause. Importantly, when something first occurs, I say get it checked out–because information is key! While most of the time, we can get better non-operatively, the reality is that the faster we diagnose things and the faster we evaluate patients, the quicker we can get them healed.

When seeking treatment, a physical exam, checking reflexes, nerve stretching, and joint range of motion can also greatly with the initial diagnosis. Frequently, x-rays and MRIs will be needed to help further differential diagnosis. Once we have a good diagnosis, then the appropriate non-operative, as well as possibly surgical treatment can be considered.  The good news is that over 90% of patients with these problems can be treated non-operatively! But treatment starts by seeking help from a spine specialist. 

Don’t hesitate when it comes to your arm numbness, weakness, and tingling because it could be a sign of impending permanent nerve damage. Schedule an initial consultation with one of our spine specialists today to get on the path to pain-free.

About The Author

Dr. Colin Haines, MD, FACS

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