Numbness in right arm when sleeping at night.
by downunderjane, Mar 15, 2006
Last night I woke up several times unable to feel my right arm. It had completely gone numb. I had to move it with my left hand and shake it around until the blood began to recirculate and I started having feeling again.

It didn't seem to matter if I slept on my right or left side or my tummy. I woke up not being able to feel it and it has scared me senseless.  

I have lost 40kg (around 88lbs) since March last year after having my third child and I eat well and now exercise regularly (I do 3 two hour classes of Karate per week and on the days I don't do that I jog up 14 steps which works out to 2,800 steps up and down per day.  I alternate that with 30 tricep dips, 30 pushups and 100 situps in between each set of 20 up/down steps).

What could be the problem?


by CCF-Neuro-M.D.-PW, Mar 21, 2006
Waking up with a numb arm is a relatively common problem. 'Saturday night palsy' is a term for people who sleep with their arm over a chair and wake up with a radial nerve palsy adn wrist drop. During the night, you will turn to the left or right without being aware of it so you cannot be sure what side you have been sleeping on.

Its not that the blood has to recirculate, its that the peripheral nerve is compressed at a point where it is near the surface. It is sort of stunned for a while until it recovers once the comppression is relieved. Usually just taking steps to avoid the compression is enough - a neurologist or doctor should be able to tell which nerve is affected and what measures you could take to avoid compression - positioning, splints etc. Rapid weight loss can put a person at risk for nerve compression, as there is less 'padding' around the peripheral nerves and some of them are near the surface. Also make sure there is no clothing around the arm that could compress a nerve.

Good luck
Related Discussions
Member Comments (17)
by downunderjane, Mar 15, 2006
Don't worry.  I think I know what it is.  Perhaps Carpel Tunnel as I have put a lot of stress on my wrists doing pushups in the past 2 days.

It didn't happen again last night so I am relieved.
by Eltonmichelle, Mar 17, 2006
I'm a personal trainer here in Cloverdale California. 3 weeks ago I also started with tingling in my right arm down to my thumb. It comes in waves. Whether I bend forward or backward, it still comes on. I'm frustrated! I'm in extremely great health and this it starting to make me mad. I teach 4 classes a week in Cycling, step, core conditioning, strength training. I've been to the chiropractor thinking I needed an adjustment. He thinks it's in my neck. So I've been icing it, but no difference. Anyone have any ideas?
by b-raye, Mar 17, 2006
I had the same thing start two years ago.  I was in my senior year of college studying Exercise Physiology when it happened.  I had EMG and nerve conduction studies done.  The tests revealed that I had a trapped ulnar nerve  and carpal tunnel.  I had the surgeries and got somewhat better.  A word of caution, be careful and take this seriously.  They also thought it was in my neck. The surgeries didn't work well for me because it turned out I had a cyst behind my cerebellum that pushed it into my brainstem, causing a cinstriction around of my nerves.  I had to have brain surgery last summer.  I have had problems with severe heqadaches since.  I don't want to scare you, just be aware and pay attention to waht your body tells you.
by zzzzzzzzzz, Mar 17, 2006
Please please please don't go to a chiropractor, or have any kind of adjustment done until you know what is causing this problem. I had a similar problem (tingling, weakness, that came in waves like dizziness in my thumb and forearm). Went to my osteopath, who is highly reputable, and did all sorts of neuro tests before doing some very gentle manipulation of my neck. 20 mins later it  spread up my arm and was extreme. if I moved my arm at all, weird spasms would make me want to pass out or vomit. Rang osteopath, who was about to leave for overseas, and he said, must have irritated a nerve and it would be better the next day. Well it wasn't. It was far worse and by the afternoon, I had tingling in my toes which gradually spread up to my chest over the next 24 hours. No, it wasn't a stroke - clear CT. This happened 7 months ago, I was seriously ill for 3 months and still noone can tell me exactly why - MS was suspected as I also developed virtigo, ataxia and visual problems. I could barely walk, and could not sit up without support at one point. But I had a clear MRI of brain and spinal chord without contrast. So, having finally seen a Neuro after all this time (long waiting lists in NZ) He suggests it could be migraine aura - but my doctor doubts this as I still have 'dizzy' toes and visual problems 24/7 all this time later. Who knows, I just can't help wondering if the osteopath had some part in all this. Especially as I have had a large lumbar herniated disc caused by excessive adjustments made by an accupuncturist 2 years ago. Obviously I stay away from manipulation these days prefering to wait for my body to work itself out - there are also great exercises one can do for simple problems, but again, you need to know what you're dealing with first.
by Neener44, Mar 18, 2006
I had the same problem plus numbness during the day in some of my fingers. My neurologist after doing an emg study had me wear a splint at night on my wrist and it has made a big difference.
by lazydog, Mar 24, 2006
I have had numerous complaints over many years and when finally my arms went numb during the night, I was severely fatigued and my ankle had swollen, I insisted on having a heart check up.  My gp didn't believe it was heart and so another thyroid check was done.....yep, all those years I'd been suffering from Hashimoto's hypothyroid.  Get a check and get a copy of the results to check for yourself.  Some labs still using outdated ranges and the docs don't realise.  Also you need to get antibodies tested at same time as if you have same then the TSH test routinely done for thyroid will not be reliable.  i.e. you will have a lower rate with antibodies.

HOWEVER, it has now been suggested to me that I may have Lyme Disease.  This was suggested to me on my symptoms - without that person knowing that I had a circular expanding rash for years since being bitten by fleas which had infested a house which I had just moved into in Arcadia Vale, Newcastle, Australia.  I am finally being tested for Lyme and going by the rash, it is very likely that this has caused the Hashimoto's.  

by bengalcats, Mar 25, 2006
I to have been having problems with tingling in my arms hands and legs, it is mostly when I am sleeping, i lay there and i will move and lay flat on my back and it does not go away and i do not feel i am compressing any nerves since i am flat on my back, when i get up in the morning most of it goes away but i can sometimes feel it in my right arm up to my upper arm, when i looked up tingling on the net up popped MS which scared the crasp out of me since i have a host of other symptoms. another weird thing i noticed is that up untill 2 years ago my feet were always cold and if i put my feet on my legs they felt like ice cubes so i always wore socks to bed. 2 years ago i started to notice that they werent cold anymore and i can now sleep with out socks. if i touch my leg with the bottom of my foot now i dont feel any cold, it worried me so i got an ice cube and put it on my leg, i could barely feel it but if i moved the ice to my thigh area it felt normal, i know you probably think im being weird but i did it because i thought i read tha MS causes decrease in sesitation, I am worried like crazy, any one else feel like this????