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Sleeping Nerves
August 2003

Q. I've been having some problems lately concerning my extremities falling asleep, even when exercising. Both my arms, especially my right arm, falls asleep while I am sleeping. I am extremely active in weightlifting and cardio running 3 times a week and heavy lifting 5 times a week. Recently my right arm has been falling asleep while jogging in the morning! Can you help me?

A. Pain, numbness, and tingling are often signs that a nerve is irritated. The main nerve bundle from the spine to the muscles of the arm travels right through the axilla (armpit), and can easily get irritated from trauma or a lot of activity such as weight lifting.

A simple physical exam may clarify the situation. Your doctor may want to order some tests to determine the location and cause of the problem. If needed, tests might include x-rays to look for problems in the spine as the nerves originate here (examples: bone malalignment, arthritis) and possibly an EMG which examines nerve conduction (example: carpal tunnel syndrome in the wrist). The treatment will depend on the results of your exam and any other tests establishing the diagnosis. A specialist in neurology can help with this evaluation if the situation persists.

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003206.htm

http://www.ninds.nih.gov/health_and_medical/disorders/peripheralneuropathy_doc.htm

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