Tingling and numbness — often described as pins and needles or skin crawling — are abnormal sensations that can be felt anywhere in your body, commonly in your arms, hands, fingers, legs, and feet. This sensation is often diagnosed as paresthesia.
Tingling and numbness in your right arm can be triggered by a number of different causes.
A common cause of numbness, tingling, and pain in the forearm and hand, carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by a compression or irritation of the median nerve in the narrow passageway on the palm side of your wrist called the carpal tunnel.
Carpal tunnel can be usually be attributed to a number of causes including any one or a combination of:
- repetitive hand motions
- wrist fracture
- rheumatoid arthritis
- chronic illness such as diabetes
- fluid retention
Carpal tunnel is commonly treated with
- wrist splint to hold your wrist in position
- nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for pain
- corticosteroids, injected to relieve pain
Your doctor might recommend surgery to relieve pressure if your symptoms don’t respond to other treatments or are particularly severe, especially if there’s weakness in the hand or constant numbness.
If you’ve had your arm in the same position for a long time — such as lying on your back with your hand under your head — you might experience a pins and needles tingling or numbness in that arm when you move it.
These sensations usually go away when you move and allow the blood to flow correctly to your nerves.
Peripheral neuropathy is damage to your peripheral nerves that can cause a tingling pain that may also be stabbing or burning. It often starts in the hand or feet and spreads upward to the arms and feet.
Peripheral neuropathy can be caused by a number of conditions including:
- kidney disease
- liver disease
- autoimmune diseases
- connective tissue disease
- insect/spider bites
Treatment for peripheral neuropathy is typically covered by the treatment to manage the condition that’s causing your neuropathy. To specifically relieve the neuropathy symptoms, sometimes additional medications are suggested, such as:
- over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers such as NSAIDs
- anti-seizure medication such as pregabalin (Lyrica) and gabapentin (Neurontin, Gralise)
- antidepressants such as nortriptyline (Pamelor), duloxetine (Cymbalta), and venlafaxine (Effexor)
Often referred to as a pinched nerve, cervical radiculopathy is the result of a nerve in the neck being irritated where it comes off the spinal cord. Cervical radiculopathy is often triggered by injury or age causing a bulging or herniated intervertebral disk.
Symptoms of cervical radiculopathy include:
- tingling or numbness in arm, hand, or fingers
- muscle weakness in arm, hand, or shoulder
- loss of sensation
Most people with cervical radiculopathy, given time, get better without treatment. Often it only takes a few days or a few weeks. If treatment is warranted, nonsurgical remedies include:
- soft surgical collar
- physical therapy
- oral corticosteroids
- steroid injections
Your doctor might recommend surgery if your cervical radiculopathy doesn’t respond to the more conservative initial steps.
A vitamin B-12 deficiency might lead to nerve damage that causes numbness and tingling in hands, feet, and legs.
At first your doctor might suggest vitamin shots. The next step is typically supplements and making sure that your diet includes sufficient:
- dairy products
The symptoms of multiple sclerosis, a potentially disabling central nervous system disease, include:
- numbness or weakness of arms and/or legs, usually on one side at a time
- tingling and/or pain in various body parts
- partial or complete vision loss, usually in one eye at a time
- double vision
- slurred speech
Since there is no known cure for MS, treatment focuses on managing symptoms and slowing progression of the disease. Along with exercise, a balanced diet, and stress relief, treatments might include:
- corticosteroids such as prednisone and methylprednisolone
- plasmapheresis (plasma exchange)
- muscle relaxants such as tizanidine (Zanaflex) and baclofen (Lioresal)
- ocrelizumab (Ocrevus)
- glatiramer acetate (Copaxone)
- dimethyl fumarate (Tecfidera)
- fingolimod (Gilenya)
- teriflunomide (Aubagio)
- natalizumab (Tysabri)
- alemtuzumab (Lemtrada)
If you have tingling or numbness in your right arm (or anywhere on your body) it’s a signal that something is wrong.
It could be something as simple as having had your arm in the wrong position for an extended period of time, or it could be something serious such as complications from an underlying condition like diabetes or carpal tunnel syndrome.
If the cause of your numbness or tingling is not easy to identify, intensifies, or doesn’t go away, talk to your doctor. Your doctor can properly diagnose the origin of the symptoms and offer you treatment options.