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Arm, face and leg numbness
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Arm, face and leg numbness

I am experiencing arm, leg and face numbness.  I notice it mostly at night or when I sit down to relax.  I have been to the ER several times.  The first 2 times the only thing they could find was that my potassium was low.  I have high blood pressure and take meds that are known to deplete postassium.  I also take a potassium suppliment.  The 3rd time I went the doctors drew blood from the artery in my arm to do a blood gas test.  They found that I do not take enough breaths and that I am getting too much CO2 in my blood stream after it leaves my heart.  I think this is called hypoventilation.  I am fine if I keep moving during the day, but if I sit down, I am always aware of trying to take enough breaths.  This is crazy.  By the was CT scans and monitoring of heart in hospital found nothing.  My general doctor thinks I may have a pinched nerve, but when I make sure to take some deep breaths while sitting the numbness does go away.  How can I deal with the problem every night?  Will this go away?  Does this sound correct to you?
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Avatar_dr_f_tn
Thanks for using the forum. I am happy to address your questions, and my answer will be based on the information you provided here. Please make sure you recognize that this forum is for educational purposes only, and it does not substitute for a formal office visit with your doctor.

Without the ability to examine you and obtain a history, I can not tell you what the exact cause of your symptoms is. However I will try to provide you with some useful information.

Hypoventilation means lack of appropriate ventilation, a low breathing pattern or lack of deep breathing basically. Hypoventilation when one is sleeping is suggestive of sleep apnea, which most often occurs in overweight people but can occur in thinner people as well. Symptoms include lack of refreshing sleep, sleepiness during the day, and snoring at night. Hypoventilation does not cause numbness.

The fact that your symptoms resolve with deep breathing could suggest that your symptoms could be related to anxiety. When a person is anxious, they hyperventilate, they over breathe (rather than hypoventilation which is under-breathing), and this causes transient (very short term) calcium changes in the blood. This can lead to numbness, usually affecting both hands, but potentially affecting just one side of the body.

One-sided numbness would be an unusal symptom of hypoventilation. A radiculopathy, or what is commonly called "a pinched nerve" occurs when the nerves exiting the spinal column are pressed on, by arthritis or a herniated disc, or spinal canal stenosis due to arthritis. This could potentially cause one-sided symptoms though it would be unsual to affect your face, arm, and leg all on one side of your body. Other causes of transient one-sided body numbness in general include problems in the brain, such as TIAs ("mini-strokes") or seizures, though this does not fit with your symptom descritpion, and I do no think this is the cause of your symptoms, but without examining you and obtaining a history I can not be sure.

If you are suffering from anxiety leading to hyperventilation, I recommend you discuss this with your general physician so that he/she can help you identify sources of anxiety and if they can not be eliminated, treat your anxiety with appropriate medications. If there is concern for hypoventilation/sleep apnea, then a sleep study (what is called a polysomnogram) is indicated to test for this. Finally, if there is concern for a pinched nerve or spinal canal stenosis (based on physical examination findings of sensory loss or weakness or pain on exertion), an MRI of your spine may be indicated. Referral to a neurologist may be indicated depending on what your exact history and physical examination findings are.

Thank you for using the forum I hope you find this information useful good luck.
2 Comments
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Avatar_n_tn
Wow this sounds exactly like my symptoms, I have been expereincing this tingling sensation started in my calfs then my lower legs and feet, arm, and occassionaly face for 10 weeks. All my blood work is good so far (diabetis, Anemia, Vit B12,Thyroid) still waiting on a few others.  My EMG test came back slightly abnormal with neuropathy. But the neurologist can't figure why? I'm a healthy 28yr female and never had any problems before? Let me know what u find out? I go for a Brain MRI next week.
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