While tingling or numbness in other body parts is likely to be brushed off as a minor discomfort, experiencing it in the left arm is automatically associated with a heart attack or stroke by most women. However, there are many possible times when tingling in the left arm is caused by an innocent problem rather than a serious health issue.
Keep on reading about numbness in the left arm to get a good understanding of its potential causes and finally put your worries to rest.
Am I Having a Heart Attack or Stroke?
Because having a heart attack or stroke is the main concern when experiencing a numb or tingling left arm, let's begin by discussing them first.
While it is true that numbness in the left arm is a common symptom of heart attacks and strokes, it will rarely be the only symptom. Generally, these medical emergencies are accompanied by other warning symptoms, including the following:1, 2
Other Symptoms of Heart Attack
- Chest pain or tightness
- Shortness of breath
- Pain or numbness in the jaw
- Discomfort radiating to the back
- Nausea with or without vomiting
- Sudden numbness or weakness in the face (usually one side)
- Sudden confusion
- Sudden slurred speech
- Sudden vision disturbances
- Sudden difficulty walking
- Sudden severe headache
It is worth remembering that not all heart attack and strokes manifest with all of the aforementioned symptoms. As such, it is recommended to seek immediate medical assistance if experiencing a sudden arm numbness and any of the listed symptoms.3
Other Possible Causes of Tingling or Numb Left Arm
Now that we ruled out life-threatening causes behind tingling or numbness in the left arm, let's discuss other potential causes of this unpleasant symptom.
One of the most common causes of numb or tingling arms in women is hormonal imbalance. A sudden change in the levels of estrogen, a key reproductive hormone, is usually the main culprit as it is known to disrupt the nervous system and circulation, giving rise to tingling extremities.
While it is typically more pronounced in mid-aged women approaching menopause, it can occur in younger women suffering from hormonal imbalance or during pregnancy, a time known for rapid hormonal shifts.
A numb or tingling left arm can also have various other causes, ranging from short-term and benign that can be tackled with simple lifestyle adjustments to long-term and serious ones that require more complex interventions.
They usually consist of conditions that restrict blood flow to various body parts or cause nerve damage, such as:
Poor posture. Having poor posture or spending a lot of time in the same position can cause numb arms and hands.
Peripheral artery disease. Narrowed arteries can reduce blood flow to the arms and cause tingling or numbness.
Diabetes. Uncontrolled blood sugar levels can cause peripheral neuropathy with tingling or numbness in the left arm.
Low vitamin B12. The vitamin's deficiency can disrupt the nervous system and trigger arm numbness or tingling.
Nerve injury. An injury to the neck causing nerve compression can radiate down to the arm or hand, producing a tingling or numb sensation.
Other causes. Multiple sclerosis (MS), carpal tunnel syndrome, thoracic outlet syndrome, medication side effects, fibromyalgia, or tumors are among the many potential causes of a numb or tingling sensation in the left arm.
Knowing the difference between a benign tingling left arm and a sign of a heart attack or stroke is key to getting the necessary help fast and without delays. Fortunately, most cases of this troublesome symptom are non-life-threatening and short-lived. For women of all ages, taking the time and effort to balancing hormones naturally is an effective way to prevent tingling extremities and other plaguing symptoms to enjoy optimal health for years to come.
- Mayo Clinic. (2019). Numbness in hands. Retrieved November 4, 2019 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/numbness-in-hands/basics/causes/sym-20050842
- Medline Plus. (2019). Numbness and tingling. Retrieved November 4, 2019 from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003206.htm
- Medline Plus. (2019). Vitamin B12. Retrieved November 4, 2019 from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002403.htm
- American Heart Association. (2015). Heart Attack Symptoms in Women. Retrieved November 4, 2019 from https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/heart-attack/warning-signs-of-a-heart-attack/heart-attack-symptoms-in-women
- American Heart Association. (n.d.). Symptoms of a Stroke. Retrieved November 4, 2019 from https://www.goredforwomen.org/en/about-heart-disease-in-women/signs-and-symptoms-in-women/symptoms-of-a-stroke
- Health direct. (2018). Limb numbness. Retrieved November 4, 2019 from https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/limb-numbness