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Nerve damage in forearm after blood test

5 weeks ago I had a blood sample taken. When the nurse inserted the needle the pain I felt down my arm was like an electric shock and I screamed at her to remove the needle, which she didn't do without probing for a vein first!

Since then I have had extreme pain when I straighten my arm, and it constantly feels like when you hit your funny bone except its all down my arm. I have tingling and twitching nerves in my thumb, fore finger and middle finger and randomly the top of my ring finger! I have been told I just have to wait and see if it heals or if its permanent but the pain is unbearable at times and when I can just about cope with it, its extremely uncomfortable. I cannot drive at the moment and I am a teacher so carrying out my job is becoming increasingly difficult. At A&E the doctor said I had median nerve neuropathy and my GP has prescribed amitriptyline, but its not doing much.

Is this likely to heal? What can I do to make it any better or bearable?
93 Responses
144586 tn?1284669764
It will probably heal. These days they certify phlebotomists who send in candy wrappers. I just had all veins in both arms destroyed by these creatures during a recent hospital stay. And I am still in pain. Try a little corticosteroidal skin cream rubbed on. Usually this kind of pain is caused by an incompetent taking an arterial blood gas sample from the wrist. You usually don't need this, but in teaching hospitals the turtles have to be certified in doing so many before they become adult turtles so they scam you and tell you "it's for your own good". Again, these injuries generally heal, but it will take weeks, perhaps months. You might try accupuncture or what is called a TENS device. A TENS device relies upon the fact that the brain usally accepts one pain signal at a time. The TENS generates a mild electrical current somewhere else and the brain dismisses the signal from your (actually damaged) nerve. Sometimes the TENS works. Sometimes it doesn't.
Avatar universal
I also have the same problem. Few days ago I went to Blood Drive and donated my blood. Over 20 yrs I never had problem at all, but this time is so painful. The phlebotomist who looked so in-experienced, put the needle in my left arm (as usual, I always use the left arm for blood donation) and I feel the sharp pain run from my bicep through the finger. I told her to take it off, but she said it was OK--"..just cool down, you will be alright"  I stayed still with all this pain starting hurt my forearm then numbed. It was about 15 minutes and I was so in pain throught the course. When she took the needle off , the blood from my vein was running big time like I had a big injury. She applied many gauze to stop the bad bleeding. The pain wasn't that sharp then but my forearm was so numbed.
I didn't do any exercise since then.I have body ache (Flu like symptom 5 hours after blood donating and lasted about 20 hours) Now my left arm has been swollen, numb with bruise in the needle pinning area. I hardly move my left arm, my fingers have been tingling, and a little uncomfortable pain in bicep area.
It has been over 3 days now and it doesn't seem it is gonna to go away anytime soon.
When we donate blood, anything can we do to prevent this happen?  I don't want anyone to go through this like I had. It is very very bad experience.
Avatar universal
I know how you feel

2 months ago i gave blood at a blood drive ( RED CROSS) at my employer. When the girl stuck my arm I had intense pain but thought nothing of it. The next few days I had nasty brusing like never. I developed an infection and phlebitis in my vein. Went to doc, they said it was from not cleaning the area or dirty needle. Had to take 4 antibiotics,3- 800mg Ibu, and 1 asprin a day for 2 weeks. The infection seemed to be gone but I still have pain in my arm, shoulder, left side of chest. Went back to doc, sent me immediately to hospital for Ultrasound, CT scan, EKG and blood test. They said no deep vein clots, said there may be nerve damage. Sent to neurologist, he thinks the same. Sending me for MRI thurs. The Red Cross has taken responsibility and is paying all out of pocket expenses, but what if I do have nerve damage from this, what am I supposed to do. I can’t sleep, drive comfortably, hurts just hanging my arm down by my side. I have worried myself to death and still worry about having a heart attack. I am only 32 and in excellent health, never had any medical problems in my life. Any advice
Hi , can you please what actions and how long did it took to heal. My husband has developed same symtons as yours. Its been 3.5 months and he cannot function his normal day to day routine. cannot type , cannot drive.
Avatar universal
I went to a blood drive yesterday, and I have been to 4 before that. She stuck the needle in my left arm and I immediately felt pain run from the injection site down the inside of my arm to my thumb. I practically jumped out of my chair and told her to take it out. My arm felt like I had just burned it, and it was really numb and tingly. My arm is still numb in some spots and irritated. Will this nerve damage heal on it's own?
Avatar universal
I am suffering the same symptoms as u all y r the medical profession getting away with this and wat is causing this?
U give blood for findings related to ure previous health  problems and to get more health problems!
anyone got any remedies? I've got five kids to look after !!!!!Thanks yasmin
Avatar universal
hi,my partner is going through the same he had a b/t 5 days agao and his arm is swollen (never seen anything like it) he is in quite abit of pain too!what the hell has happened??
Avatar universal
Yes, same for me, only my pain wasn't so severe as most people seem to be reporting, but my whole arm and shoulder is aching, also mild pins and needles on the inside of my forearm.
The nurse came in to where I was sitting,  from the receptionists office at my GP surgery. She didn't wash her hands, and she didn't use gloves. After rubbing my vein with her index finger she dragged a dry cotton wool ball over the vein, then rubbed it with her finger again and inserted a very large bore needle. No alcohol swab in sight. The stuff was already unwrapped on a tray when I entered the room. I told her it was REALLY painful, but she just dismissed it and carried on regardless, telling me I was imagining it.

For all I know she could have rubbed bacteria or virus over my vein and carried it directly into the bloodstream during the puncture.
The procedure for taking blood is SO SIMPLE a monkey could do it, but GP practice nurses NEVER follow the rules. It is disgraceful.
Avatar universal
Even with the most experienced medical personnel drawing blood this can happen.  The nurse should have removed the needle when you told her; poor judgement on her/his part.  Never have blood drawn from this arm again.  

Try and rest the arm when you can.  I would ask your physician for another medication for the nerve pain (i.e. Neurontin, Lyrica).  It might take some time for the nerve pain to subside, but there is a possibility that the nerve damage is permanent.  Seeing a Neurologist wouldn't be a bad idea.          
Avatar universal
I was wondering, I was giving blood for a simple test. My veins are small and wiggle. The tech tried to draw blood in my arm (elbow) and then in the side of my wrist by my thumb. I believe he hit a nerve. He stuck me then moved the needle to try to find the vein and bam a shock went into my hand and twinged. He pulled the needle
out right away. It is now 3 days later and everytime I twist my wrist to grab ANYTHING I get that same feeling back in my wrist part of my palm and mostly my thumb. What should I do?
Avatar universal
I gave blood 4 days ago.  I felt the same pain from my forearm to my hand the moment the needle was put in.  It felt like electric shock or my arm was on fire.  I am still in constant pain and I feel the same shock when I do certain things like pick up my son, open a door,  the smallest tasks now hurt with that arm.  I too am hoping this is temporary but it is really beginning to scare me.  I have been giving blood for 20 years and never realized this was a a possible risk.  I think there should have been a disclosure warning statement.
Avatar universal
i had blood drawn yesterday, and my arm feels the same way. it feels like an electric shock going through my arm, if i move it a certain way. when i am not doing anything, it feels like its asleep. i hope nothing serious is wrong, but it's annoying. if anyone knows what this is, please post on here.
Avatar universal
Hi there. You seem to have sustained an inadvertent nerve injury during the intentional blood withdrawal. If you are feeling tingling, numbness in your hand, you must consult a neurologist for a nerve conduction velocity study to check the viability of the nerve. This should not be something serious if the injury is a neuropraxia and hence the damage reversible. Other types of nerve damage viz, neurontemesis and axonotmesis. These can be detected by electromyogram and nerve conduction velocity study and neurontemesis is the most severe and irreversible. Your doctor should assess the damage and advise treatment accordingly. Take care.

Avatar universal
I can't believe this, I just tried to get hospital to do an endoscopy to see if I have stomach ulcers and the guy wanted to do a blood test. He was foreign and clearly a newbie without a clue. I told him I had one done 3 days ago and the results yesterday were all negative. He still insisted on doing one. My entire arm felt like it had lactic acid through it, rock hard and my thumb and fingers tingling. He goes "this isn't working" and went out the room. He came back and tried again, still with no joy and blood on the floor (which I found out at the end because I didn't watch cos I don't like needles. I told him that's it, I'm not having this done anymore. He wanted to do my right arm and I refused. I went home read these comments and went back there angry (not the best thing for my stress related ulcers that I may or may not have). If there is any permanent damage for this, I would like to know if there's any compensation as he could have buggered up my arm.

I went back there angry and a more experienced doctor told me that the blood test was done correctly in the artery not the vein and to keep it moving. Is this the best idea? Surely I would like to give my nerves a chance to heal.

No endoscopy for ulcers he simply recommended me buscopan. He said I'm too young to have ulcers. I'm 26 and been working hard since I had a paper round at 13, so how does he know. I do not have or get digestive problems, just long term stress from hard physical work that could be serious. I do over 35 hrs of cleaning houses per week which I started up a year and a half ago, driving from one job straight to the next, fitting in 8hrs of cleaning on full days, and working 6 days a week, so yes it's stressful. What a wasted trip to the hospital that has made the situation worse.
1859318 tn?1319843363
Wow, thats exactly how it felt for me on Tuesday (today is Friday). I complained right away but she just continued filling up the tubes.  I have Lupus, relapsing polychondritis, fibromyalgia and thought the pain was due to one of my chronic pains. I have to get lab work done each month due to my meds and sed rate #.  I dropped my cup 2x from the sharp pain, the damn thumb is almost useless.  I tried cold compress and it hurt more, heat was better.  My dr said to try not to use it and it should be better before my next blood draw. I am right handed so there is no way I can rest it completely.
good luck with yours.
Avatar universal
i had blood takin from my arm for them to check my cloresal,and i felt this shocking sinsation ever since about 6 to 13 times a day since,its like im getting electricuted,it really hurts i have broke glass,im droping things it wakes me up...wow!Thaen the one girl said to the other when i yelled in pain take it out put in a butter fly what ever that is ans the kicker is i have a few cancers and dont have a port any more because i cant untill i have surgery!  and i had a stroke in the other arem now im scard to get my chemo and all the blood draws i need every week!god bless all of you!
Avatar universal
I have all those sensations...I gave blood 10 days ago...when the needle was put it in I felt a sharp sensation down my forearm like an electrical shock. I asked her to get the needle out. Since then everyone I straighten my arm I felt a weird popping feeling and sharp pain. If I tug a little at my wrist (gently) it's horrible pain. Went to the doctor today he said take Tylenol 5 times a day for pain and try ice...he said its not possible to have hit a nerve ( I just don't believe it) he said to call back in a week if the pain is still there...I'm so frustrated!
Avatar universal
I have the same problem... I gave bllod at my school on Thursday May 17th, and when the nurse stuck the needle in me I felt a great amount of pain in my left arm, and it felt like I had been shocked severely. It is not Saturday May 19th, and when ever I move my arm I get the same feeling. My mom has gotten me an arm sling to rest my arm in but it doesnt seem to be working. I have been reading these comments, and now I am a little scared. Please reply if you have any idea on what I can do to help stop the pain.
Avatar universal
This happened to me yesterday. Routine blood test at doctors treatment room by nurse.  As soon as the need was in I experienced a severe ache all over my arm. I made the nurse aware but she wasn't even bothered.  She just said that the pain would subside.  It didn't.  I left the surgery with a really painful arm and virtually unable to drive.  I went back to work but could hardly even move my arm and definitely not straighten it.  I rang the docs a few hours later only to be told that I should return to the treatment room.  My arm by this point was really swollen but no bruising.  When I explained to a different nurse what the problem was, she was very rude and said looking at my arm that "you didn't get that here". Cheeky cow....I was so furious.  She continued to say that in all her years she had never heard of this happening.  Total rubbish me thinks!  48 hrs later and I am still unable to straighten my arm, still swollen.  My wrist aches, feels almost like carpel tunnel which leads me to think they have damaged a nerve.  What hacked me off was their attitude.....and they are supposed to be professionals!
Avatar universal
Hi have been reading all these comments about nerve damage from having blood drawn and this happened to me as well, went for my 3 months checup for my diabetese and of course had to have blood drawn and when the girl stuck the needle in my left arm i felt like electrical shocks running down my left arm and told her to take the needle out , my arm hurt really  bad and the feeling of tingling and some pain has lasted since this past Tuesday everytime i stretch my arm out i feel the feeling of electrical shocks and pain , the lab tech asked the other lady tech to draw the blood so she used a butterfly needle and i am trying to wait to see if it stops and heals on it's on but i feel i should let the doctor know about this in case i do have to have something done . i guess i will call my doctor monday to let her know what happened.i never thought about anything going wrong from having blood drawn .    
Avatar universal
Has yours gotten better?  Mine sounds exactly the same.

Avatar universal
Well at least I'm not alone. I had a routine blood draw in November 2011, in December I complained to my doctor.  I had a ultrasound which showed nothing.  I went to a cardiologist because its the left arm (you never know) and I was fine.  It's now September and I have the most annoying pain that runs from the blood draw site to my hand.  I can now assume its nerve pain, it feels like the vein is going to blow up and I'm left handed so I constantly use it.  Is there anything that can be done to reverse the nerve damage?  I
Avatar universal
I had blood drawn last wednesday. Ive been going for a series of tests and this was about the 4th or 5th time that i had blood drawn in approx 8 days. I did switch arms to try to avoid injury. But last wednesday as soon as she stuck the needle in I knew something wasnt right. It was just painful. Normally I dont feel pain when I have my blood taken. My arm is actually getting worse not better. Today I can't even straighten my arm all the way. If I twist a certain way I just want to yelp out in pain! My bicep is sore, where she took my blood is sore, the side of my arm is sore. Im just a mess. The whole area is greenish yellow. On the side of my arm I can see teeny tiny purple veins. Im afraid I have nerve damage! Will it go away? Can it be fixed? what should I do?
Avatar universal
wow, I cant believe all these comments on blood draws sound exactly like what happened to me. I have never had any problem with getting my blood drawn, I have good veins and sometimes they are so good I barley feel anything. When I had my blood drawn 5 days ago I couldnt believe the pain that went down my arm from my antecubital area when the puncture was all the way down to my wrist. It was a searing pain , never had anything like it. I finnally called today to complain about it because I am having the strangest sensation in that arm when I move it and sometimes the same type of shooting pain. It feels like my vein is popping or something when I move it, its weird.
Avatar universal
This just happened to me today so I googled now that I am back home and saw this discussion. I knew something went wrong this morning with my blood work. the girl stuck the needle straight down (in my inner elbow area) in my right arm and sent an immediate electrical shock feeling way down to my finger tips, my whole lower arm went numb for a minute or two, asked for the doctor. The doctor said that my nerve will heal in 2 months with discomfort and my nerve will recover. i worry bec my right hand is my means of livelihood - i am a needlework designer and do computer work a lot and physically active doing gardening and carpentry. i also lift weights at the gym. so i am worried. as i am typing this, i feel okey but worried that i may feel something like pain later on. it's winter and i know that i cannot expose my right arm to anything cold anymore. i just want to be okey...
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