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Experiencing a periodic mild numbness in arm. Family history of MS. Any chances of getting the same?

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Posted on Thu, 14 Mar 2013
Question: CONCERN:
I'm experience a periodic mild numbness in my left arm (mainly forearm but migrates to hand and upper arm sometimes) and left leg (mainly calf, but migrates to the foot sometimes). These strange sensations happen periodically--sometimes my arm, sometimes my leg, sometimes both at the same time. Seems to be more prominent in the evening time. Sometimes the numbness progresses to a slight tingling (pins & needles), sometimes it's just the numb feeling. My leg in particular, feels slightly "heavier" than the other one, but only when I'm having the sensation, not all the time. What concerns me most is that they're both on the left side of my body.

My right side is completely normal. And the effected left limbs still function as usual, with normal feeling (other than the numbness), and appear to have normal strength with the exception of my left hand. Sometimes it feels slightly week and less coordinated while typing.

My father was diagnosed with MS (at a the late age of 60) about 4 years ago. This is why I am concerned.

Also, my stress level with work, and obtaining my master's degree at school at the same time, on a scale from one to ten, ranges between eight and ten, regularly. However, I do not have any problems sleeping.

QUESTIONS:
1. Could my condition be caused by MS (if so, what is the likelihood/statistics of this, knowing you cannot diagnose this over the computer?) Also of note, I have had a "brain fog" feeling occasionally over the past few weeks--I attributed this mainly to being over stressed--at least until the numbness issues surfaced. Finally, no prominent visual symptoms, other than I feel like lately I have been able to see my eye lashes more easily (like there's a visual obstruction, but upon closer inspection I realize that my eye lashes are in my field of vision).

2. Is there a common nerve that serves both my arm and leg that could be pinched or aggravated due to poor posture while sitting? I do sit for about 6 hours per day at a computer. I try to have good posture, but may not be disciplined at doing it all the time.

3. Is it possible that stress manifests itself only in my left limbs?

BACKGROUND/HISTORY:
I am healthy 32 year old, white male, living in the Southeast of the United States. My only health problem to mention is gastritis that is being treated with Prilosec and Carafate currently. Other than that, no medications or significant medical history. I'm allergic to penicillin and ceclore antibiotics. Also, I do suffer from acute sinusitus about 2 times per year.
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Answered by Dr. Raju A.T (5 hours later)
Hi,

Thanks for your query.

I would like to appreciate the detailed history provided above in your post.This makes easy to understand and advice better.

1)The numbness, pins and needle sensation you have is called Paraesthesia.It is seen in conditions where there is damage to the nerve supply of the affected part.

Such symptoms can be seen in MS (Multiple Sclerosis) or in conditions of the spine in the neck affecting the cervical spinal cord.

Since you have family history of MS and brain fog associated with paraesthesia, I do suspect the possibility of the MS being high in you.

I would ask you to get a MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan of your brain and a CSF (Cerebro spinal Fluid) analysis to rule out the possibility of the MS in you. If the MS is ruled out then a MRI scan of the neck would be needed to find out whether there is any compression to the spinal cord in the neck which could be other common possible causes for such symptoms.

2)Yes, as mentioned above spinal cord in the neck is a common tract, when damaged can lead to symptoms both in upper and lower limbs.

Conditions like cervical fractures, Cervical Spine Tuberculosis, spondylosis etc of the spine in the neck can affect the spinal cord.

3)No, stress could not be the reason of one sided numbness and paraesthesia.Stress may rarely cause active neurological symptoms,It may more often present with psychological or physiological symptoms.

Hope I answered your query.

Please do let me know if there are any other concerns.

Regards,

Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Shanthi.E
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Answered by
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Dr. Raju A.T

General & Family Physician

Practicing since :2008

Answered : 4059 Questions

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Experiencing a periodic mild numbness in arm. Family history of MS. Any chances of getting the same?

Hi,

Thanks for your query.

I would like to appreciate the detailed history provided above in your post.This makes easy to understand and advice better.

1)The numbness, pins and needle sensation you have is called Paraesthesia.It is seen in conditions where there is damage to the nerve supply of the affected part.

Such symptoms can be seen in MS (Multiple Sclerosis) or in conditions of the spine in the neck affecting the cervical spinal cord.

Since you have family history of MS and brain fog associated with paraesthesia, I do suspect the possibility of the MS being high in you.

I would ask you to get a MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan of your brain and a CSF (Cerebro spinal Fluid) analysis to rule out the possibility of the MS in you. If the MS is ruled out then a MRI scan of the neck would be needed to find out whether there is any compression to the spinal cord in the neck which could be other common possible causes for such symptoms.

2)Yes, as mentioned above spinal cord in the neck is a common tract, when damaged can lead to symptoms both in upper and lower limbs.

Conditions like cervical fractures, Cervical Spine Tuberculosis, spondylosis etc of the spine in the neck can affect the spinal cord.

3)No, stress could not be the reason of one sided numbness and paraesthesia.Stress may rarely cause active neurological symptoms,It may more often present with psychological or physiological symptoms.

Hope I answered your query.

Please do let me know if there are any other concerns.

Regards,