Tingling, down the arm and into all the fingers

by TWT
(Winthrop, Maine)

My husband is experiencing frequent, but not constant, tingling, and pins and needles feeling down his left arm and into the tips of all his fingers. It is relieved when he raises his arm. This was not an injury and it has been going on for about 4 weeks.

He does not have any chest heaviness or pain, nor does any tingling radiate to the jaw. He is 58 yrs. old. He has not seen a doctor: he won't unless he is dying.

Any idea what might cause this and what he can do?

Hello TWT,
I'm not sure because it doesn't fit into anyone of the classical patterns. If it's definitely affecting all the fingers then it's not a nerve root problem.
If raising the arm relieves the tingling then the suggestion is that it IS a nerve root problem; the so called Shoulder Abduction Relief sign.

Does turning his head to the left, and simultaneously looking up have any effect?

Try the Upper Limb Tension Test using the search this site function.

Making windmills with the left arm sometimes helps, but what's really needed here is a diagnosis. A smoker? Very rarely a pancoast tumour in the apex of the lung can do this; but then he would have a bad cough and be really sick.

I don't believe in rushing off to the doctor or chiropractor for every little pain, but if it's going down the arm then time to do something. Preferably before he's actually dying!

I hope this contributes.

Dr b

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Apr 30, 2016
by: Bit

I have tingling in my right arm from my elbow down to my fingers I've been having it for the last 3 days and I don't know what's causing it or what to do; I'm looking for any suggestion before I go to the ER.

Hello Bit,
Firstly it has nothing to do with your heart, so you can relax on that score.

Secondly, you've tagged onto someone else's letter, so let's be sure, is it really ALL the fingers? That's very important.

Thirdly do you have neck pain or stiffness, and does turning to the right and looking up cause any pain or tingling anywhere?

Press just below the front of the elbow, and compare with the left arm. Is it inordinately tender and radiate to the fingers? There median nerve runs between the bellies of the pronator teres muscle and after hard physical work like gardening or hammering can cause tingling in the hand; but then it will always exclude the pinkie.

So would carpal tunnel miss the pinkie.

If it's really in all the fingers, then I'd be checking the thoracic outlet and the pulse in your wrist using Adson's test.

In short, this isn't ER stuff unless your arm is also swollen. But it does need to be carefully examined. Answers to the above questions would help your chiropractor or doctor make the right diagnosis and hence appropriate effective treatment.

Dr B

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