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Nerve Tinglings
September 2003

Q. I do concrete work for a living. I have this tingle in my right arm. It starts at the shoulder and goes all the way to my fingers. It comes and goes about every 5 to 10 minutes. If I fall asleep and put my hands and arms above my head, I'll wake with terrible pain and have to use my left hand to reach over and pick it up to move it. I also get very sharp pains in my wrist that feels like a jolt of electricity. Can you help?

A. When a nerve is damaged or irritated, the symptoms may include pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness in any area supplied by that nerve. So your symptoms certainly sound like a nerve problem. Your doctor will likely want to order some tests to determine the location and cause of the problem.

Tests often include x-rays to look for problems in the spine as the nerves originate here (examples: bone malalignment, arthritis) and possible an EMG which examines nerve conduction (example: carpal tunnel syndrome). The treatment will depend on the results of such tests establishing the diagnosis.

Damaged nerves can re-grow but very slowly. Various medications are available to help relieve pain from nerves that are misfiring. A specialist in neurology may be needed to help with this evaluation. The type of work you do could make you susceptible to a nerve problem.

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000593.htm

http://www.merck.com/pubs/mmanual/section14/chapter183/183f.htm

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