Feeling pins and needles or tingling sensations in your left arm, medically referred to as paresthesia, is generally indicative of a lack of oxygen supply in the area. The feeling can be triggered by holding a position for several minutes or having pressure applied to the area, thereby impeding the proper circulation of oxygen-carrying blood to the extremity. It can also be indicative of more serious problems like diabetes. Certain exercises can help you resume normal strength and function.
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Acupressure can improve blood circulation in your left arm. This treatment, which involves applying pressure at specific points on the body to relieve pain, helps alleviate any blockage in the blood vessels or arteries leading to the area. According to Dr. Ben Kim, holistic healing specialist, applying pressure to the pericardium-3, or PC-3, pressure point is an excellent way to boost blood circulation to your left arm. To find the PC-3, bend your left arm slightly and feel for the tendon of your biceps muscle popping up. Just to the inside of the biceps tendon and about the width of one finger above your elbow crease is your brachial artery. This point is the PC-3.
Improve your posture, whether standing, sitting or lifting, to ensure that blood is distributed properly to your left arm. A slouched position slows the movement of blood to your extremities. Instead, keep your spine properly aligned and your shoulders back. Your arms should hang comfortably at your sides and you should keep your chin up while walking. Also, look straight ahead rather than looking down toward your toes all the time.
When lifting items, keep your back straight and your feet flat on the ground. Your back muscles are not your strongest muscles, so let your leg and thigh muscles do the work. Create a base of support by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart with one foot about half a step in front of the other. By assigning the weight of the load to the correct muscles and maintaining proper posture, you can avoid compromised circulation and stress to your arms and back.
Stretching your arms, shoulders and torso can also improve blood circulation to your extremities and throughout your body. Even if the pins and needles are caused by serious health conditions like diabetes, heart problems or nerve disease, stretching can alleviate the symptoms. To perform a stretching exercise that helps keep oxygen flowing to your left arm, stand with your feet flat on the ground and aligned with your shoulders. Reach up slowly as high as you can and then gradually bring your arms back down. Then alternate reaching out to the right as far as you can and then the left. Each stretching session should last about 15 to 20 minutes.
Rotational exercises can also boost blood flow and oxygen to your left arm. Rotate your left arm by stretching it out from your side and making circular movements with your hand for 15 repetitions. Repeat the exercise in reverse. Maintain a slight bend in your elbows while doing this exercise. Then, flex your biceps, triceps and shoulder muscles for three sets of 15 repetitions and feel the blood pumping into the muscles.
When to Seek Medical Help
If the pins and needles sensation is accompanied by chest and jaw pain, you should head to the emergency room right away, as these symptoms may signal an impending heart attack or stroke. In some cases, the feeling of pins and needles in your left arm can be caused by an underlying problem like trauma or injury, diabetes, brachial neuralgia, a heart condition, multiple sclerosis or nerve damage. In these cases, treatment might require more drastic measures like chemotherapy, surgery or medication. Be watchful of serious symptoms like tingling sensations that last for weeks or months or increasing pain and discomfort in the area.