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Dr. Andrew Rynne
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Dr. Andrew Rynne

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What causes severe coldness in left arm?

Answered by
Dr.
Dr. Olsi Taka

Neurologist

Practicing since :2004

Answered : 3650 Questions

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Posted on Tue, 7 Jun 2016 in Brain and Spine
Question: I have recently started to experience very cold arms late afternoon and evening.
This is most pronounced in my left arm, which is paralysed, but my right able arm still gets pretty cold.
What is happening please?
doctor
Answered by Dr. Olsi Taka 42 minutes later
Brief Answer:
Read below.

Detailed Answer:
I read your question carefully and I understand your concern.

Such cold sensations may be due to several causes (fortunately not alarming ones). One possible cause may be blood vessel narrowing with insufficient blood supply to the limbs. However usually the cold feeling is more pronounced distally in the hands. Also it can be checked by controlling your pulse at the wrist, if strong, it is unlikely.

Another issue may be nerve compression usually in the neck which may manifest abnormal sensations in the upper limbs.

Another possibility may be metabolic abnormalities such as thyroid deficiency, vitamin B12 deficiency, electrolyte alterations.

So a simple check up for pulse and blood pressure as well as some routine blood tests (blood count, liver and kidney function, thyroid function, electrolytes, creatine kinase, vitamin B12) are the initial (cheap) initial steps. If they result normal a neck MRI and nerve conduction studies may be considered.

I remain at your disposal for further questions.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
doctor
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Follow up: Dr. Olsi Taka 21 hours later
Today, it's not just my arms that are cold, but my whole back as well.
Does this suggest any other explanation? XXXXXXX Cosh
doctor
Answered by Dr. Olsi Taka 5 hours later
Brief Answer:
Syringomyelia is another hypothesis

Detailed Answer:
Hello again.

That distribution in the back is against the hypothesis of blood vessel issues.

It does raise the concern of a spinal cord issue, such as syringomyelia, the forming of a cyst inside the spinal cord. It manifests with temperature sensation changes which may be in a cape like distribution in the back and arms. Generally it evolves very slowly but there are variations. So a neurological examination is necessary to test sensation and look for other possible neurological signs and a neck MRI.

Let me know if I can further assist you.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
doctor
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Follow up: Dr. Olsi Taka 12 hours later
My left side paralysis was caused by a cyst (tumour, removed by operation) in my spinal cord in 1984.
Does this have implications on whether my current symptoms of cold in my arms and back, are also caused by a spinal cord cyst?
doctor
Answered by Dr. Olsi Taka 27 minutes later
Brief Answer:
Read below.

Detailed Answer:
Yes, it may be related. Syringomyelia can have many causes, among which is also scarring after prior surgery or trauma. So while it is quite a long time back it is a possibility.

Of course it must be confirmed through imaging, do not want you to reach hasty conclusions. Sensitive symptoms are the most subjective in neurology, at times may be even in the absence of a lesion, due to anxiety. But given your history and new symptoms imaging is required.

I hope to have been of help.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
doctor
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