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Feeling numbness in arms. Frequently waking up at night. Having recurrent heart burn. What can be done?

Nov 2013
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Answered by

Practicing since : 1994
Answered : 5289 Questions
Hi there,

Over the last 3 or 4 weeks I've been waking up many times in the night to feel either one of my arms or both of my arms numb. This could just be the hand or the fore-arm too. As soon as I move around or sit up it very quickly goes away. This happens quite often and it scares me quite a lot. Last night I probably woke up 4 or 5 times so I don't think it's simply sleeping the "wrong way" and cutting off blood supply, it doesn't feel that way to me. Plus sometimes it's both arms.

This morning I tried an experiment where I lay flat on my back with my arms straight with palms faced up and this seemed a little better, though an awkward way to sleep.

I read other reports of this online with many people suggesting it was a nerve problem, hence my contacting you.

In general I am a fit and active 29 year old. I am 6'2 and about 185 lbs. I do a lot of exercise. I try to swim every day and I swim quite far and fast. In addition I do a lot of work at the gym, pull-ups, push-ups, weights, etc. I also eat healthily and I do not drink alcohol often at all. (perhaps once every two weeks). I don't do any drugs.

In the morning, like now, my arms feel a little weak, especially in the hands.

This condition is quite scary to me and it really gives me a lot of stress. I recently did a big move from the UK to California for a new job (last week). And along with this night time numb arms issue, I've been getting recurrent heart-burn. Last night, when I woke up in the night I was so stressed and anxious that I had to walk around my apartment trying to calm my pounding heart and I was almost on the verge of calling an ambulance.

Thanks for any help or advice you can give me sir.

Posted Sat, 13 Jul 2013 in Brain and Spine
Answered by Dr. Sudhir Kumar 8 hours later

Thank you for posting your query.

First of all, I would like to reassure you that your symptoms are not suggestive of any serious neurological problem.

It is a nerve problem. This condition is referred to as neuropraxia, where the nerves do not function for a few moments and then recover completely. This gets aggravated after mechanical pressure on the nerves. There is no need to worry, as it does not lead to paralysis or numbness.

For evaluation, a nerve conduction studies (NCV) would be useful in excluding any nerve disease such as median nerve in the hand gets compressed at the level of wrist. A blood test for vitamin B12 level would also be useful.

I hope it helps. Please get back if you have any more queries.

Best wishes,
Dr Sudhir Kumar MD DM (Neurology) XXXXXXX Consultant Neurologist
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