Pain/numbness sensations on Left side of Body

This post is a response by a doctor to a question one of our community members asked.

Josephine Asks:

Dear Sir,

My husband suffers from these attacks in the last two months. Firstly, he tells me that these attacks are like the feelings/sensations when you bump your funny bone on something hard. These feelings start on the feet and travels up to his lips, mainly on the left side of his body only. These attacks last a few seconds. Whenever he gets these attacks, he has to sit down for a while to let it pass. They come out of nowhere, he can be working on his cars in the garage, doing gardening, or just during his daily walking exercises. Some days there are no attacks at all, some days it will hit him twice, three or several times. He has had blood tests done and the doctor has said that it is all clear, no diabetes, blood pressure and no signs even of prostate cancer. He has also done an MRI and it was clear too. The doctor has said that this could be due to old age and wear and year of neurons in the brain. He has recommended that my husband take an asprin pill, Ecotrin, everyday.

The attacks are still happening. Two days ago, there was nothing. Yesterday he had two attacks. Today, so far, no attacks. By the way, my husband is a retiree, 73 years old. I hope you can shed some light into what is happening. My thinking is maybe he is lacking in some kind of nutrient or vitamins or whatever.

Thanking you in advance.

Dr Nitesh’s reply:

Numbness or tingling is abnormal sensations that can affect any part of the body. These symptoms are usually due to some damage to sensory nerves and span of the area affected depends on the nerve that is involved. Psychosomatic disorders can also lead to tingling and numbness in one half or certain areas of the body. Any damage to upper part of spinal cord can lead to tingling in arms or upper part of the body while damage or compression of nerves in the lower back lead to symptoms in lower half of the body.

Involvement of left side of the body usually indicates central involvement with high probability of brain involvement. Tingling and numbness can occur due to multiple factors like standing or sitting in the same position for long duration, injury to a nerve, pressure on the nerves due to some mass or disc herniation, some viral infections like herpes or shingles, Hardening of blood vessels or frost bite leading to lack of blood supply to sensory nerves, electrolyte abnormalities like abnormal levels of sodium or potassium, Lack of vitamin B12, certain medications can also lead to tingling and numbness, Animal bites involving sensory nerves, some seafood toxins and others.

Neurological conditions like stroke, cervical spondylosis, transient ischemic stroke, migraine, cervical spinal stenosis, porphyria, muscle strain, wernickes’s encephalopathy, Myasthenia gravis and intracranial haematoma can lead to tingling and numbness on left side of the body. Lead poisoning can be other cause for these symptoms.

Diagnosing cause for these symptoms is important to streamline curative measures. Any vitamin or electrolyte disturbance should be corrected. If the imaging modalities and all blood reports are within normal limits then your neurologist may ask for your psychiatrist consultation to rule out any psychosomatic reason for these symptoms. Some blood tests or neural imaging can be repeated by your neurologist to confirm the validity of results and to reach at a conclusion.

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