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left arm falls asleep
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left arm falls asleep

My left arm and hand fall asleep constantly when it is above my waist.  This has been going on since i was 20 or so, but gradually over the years has got  worse and now it is all the time.  At first it was intermitant till now, at 63 it is constantly doing it.  Blood pressure is borderline just under and I have no diabetes.  I do have claudiation in my legs, left one worse, but this just came on recently.  Arm falling asleep has been forever it seems.  Any answers?  I do not have any health insurance nor money to see a doctor, am waiting till 65 when I can get medicaid.
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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.

If your hand falls asleep when you are holding it up, the cause could be either neurologic or vascular, i.e. caused by decreased blood flow to your arm.

If the cause is vascular, this could related to narrowing of the arteries that supply blood to your arm. This is a possibility given that you also report claudication in your legs.

Another possibly is thoracic outlet syndrome. This is due to pressure on the bundle of arteries and nerves that pass through an area in the area of the collar bone called the thoracic outlet. Symptoms often occur when a person with thoracic outlet syndrome raises their arms above their hand and use them for vigorous activity. Since  your symptoms have been present since you were in your 20s, this is a possibility.

Another possibility is that you have arthritis in your upper spine, and certain positions lead to pressure on the nerves that emerge from your spine, leading to arm numbness.

I suggest that you see a physician as soon as you are able to, seeing a general internist would be most feasible so that he/she can assess whether or not your problem is neurologic or vascular.

In the meantime, I suggest that you try to minimize things that could cause narrowing of the arteries in the body by stopping smoking if you smoke, limit your fat intake, and exercise. Also, it would be advisable to avoid raising your arms up for vigorous activity. Finally, if your arm becomes very cold and/or painful, if it changes color dramatically, it could be the blood supply to your arm is critically low, and seeing a doctor emergently would be recommended.

Thank you for this opportunity to answer your questions, good luck.
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