Q:

Why does my arm go numb when I sneeze?

A:

Quick Answer

The sensation of numbness in the arm after sneezing is a common symptom of disk herniation in the neck. This numbing may be accompanied by tingling, pain or weakness in the same limb, according to Mayo Clinic.

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Full Answer

Vertebral disks act as cushions between the vertebral bodies of the spinal column. If damaged, they may herniate, impinging the nerve in the direction of the bulge. WebMD explains that disks can herniate due to wear and tear, as well as after traumatic injury such as a car accident.

WebMD emphasizes the importance of talking to a doctor if symptoms such as numbness, pain or weakness occur, even if only after sneezing or coughing. The appointment will typically consist of a thorough clinical history and a physical exam. The physician may order an x-ray, magnetic resonance imaging or a myelogram.

While an x-ray may not directly diagnose disk herniation, it may be useful in removing other causes from the differential diagnosis. An MRI is an important imaging test and is used for diagnosis, as well as to help direct treatment to the location of the hernia. A myelogram can also help find the location of nerve compression in a herniation by showing the location of increased cord pressure after dye is injected into the spinal fluid and x-rays are taken, according to Mayo Clinic.

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