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If You Notice This on Your Body, Have Your Arms Checked

Six major health signs to be aware of that require your arms to be examined, experts say.

If we pay attention, our body tells us what we need. Obviously, we know when we should eat or drink, but our body can communicate so much more, like indicating there's a bigger health issue we need to be aware of. "When it comes to signs and symptoms of potentially dangerous conditions in the arms or legs, the essential thing to consider is whether it's happening only on one side or both. Weakness, numbness or pain on one side of the body could be a hint that you're experiencing a vascular or nerve issue that may cause severe damage," Sean Marchese, MS, RN, a registered nurse at The Mesothelioma Center with a background in oncology clinical trials and over 15 years of direct patient care experience, tells Eat This, Not That! Health. There are several signs to be mindful of according to experts ETNT! Health spoke with. Read below to see what they are and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.



Senior woman with arm pain

Dr. Wled Wazni, Director of Stroke at Glendale Memorial Hospital-Dignity Health explains, "Stroke is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. and typically increases with age, but everyone needs to know the warning signs to know when to seek urgent medical attention. Experiencing sudden onset of weakness or numbness in one arm could be a sign or symptoms of stroke. Weakness can be problems with grip strength, lifting the arm up, or even complete immobility. Numbness usually affects the entire arm which may feel like it is going numb but can also feel like pins and needles."

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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

older woman sitting at desk with wrist pain
Shutterstock / fizkes

Dr. Parham Yashar, MD FACS FAANS Board Certified Neurosurgeon at Dignity Health Northridge Hospital says, "If you ever notice that the muscles at the base of your thumb on one hand appear to be thinner or skinnier compared to the other hand, this may be a sign that you're experiencing symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. Evaluation by your neurologist or having an EMG/nerve conduction study can be most helpful to confirm this diagnosis which can often be treated with nonsurgical treatment as well as a couple tunnel release surgery."

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Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

man with dark hair suffering from elbow pain outdoor

"If you're experiencing numbness or tingling that radiates from approximately your elbow down to your pinky finger, this may be a sign of irritation of the ulnar nerve, commonly known as cubital tunnel syndrome," says Dr. Yashar.  "Evaluation by your spine specialist or neurologist is important to establish and confirm this diagnosis. Similar to carpal tunnel syndrome, nonsurgical options are always considered first before thinking about surgical intervention."

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Peripheral Artery Disease

man massaging nose bridge, taking glasses off, having blurry vision or dizziness

Marchese states, "Signs you could be experiencing decreased blood flow in your arms or legs include fatigue, cramps or a feeling of heaviness during light activity. Many symptoms of peripheral artery disease may not be obvious, such as a weak pulse, coldness in hands or feet, hair loss or discoloration on limbs, and slower growth of fingernails and toenails. Some symptoms may also resolve after resting, making them more challenging to identify. However, if you notice that you're having more difficulty or pain completing your everyday activities, seek medical care. Your physician can perform blood tests and imaging to reveal signs of peripheral artery disease." 

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Hypoxia (Decreased Oxygen)

Woman holding feet toes

"One meaningful sign to look out for, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, is the clubbing of fingers or toes," Marchese warns. "Clubbing is a term that describes softening of the nail beds, bulging or red fingertips, and curved or unstable nails. These signs usually indicate chronic low blood-oxygen levels but can also be seen with congenital heart defects, cystic fibrosis and other illnesses. Lung cancer commonly causes clubbing as cancer progresses and oxygen transfer decreases. Chronic lung infections or interstitial lung disease, which can occur after a COVID-19 infection, can also cause clubbing. Consistent low oxygen levels can lead to severe damage in sensitive organs such as the brain, heart and kidneys." 

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Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather
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