Migraine and Arm Numbness: How Patients Cope


Migraine and Arm Numbness: How I Cope

Introduction to Migraine Attacks and Arm Numbness

Living with migraine attacks is challenging enough, but dealing with the additional symptom of arm numbness during an attack can make it even more distressing. Migraines are a neurological condition characterized by severe headaches, often accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea, sensitivity to light and sound, and in some cases, arm numbness.

Personal Experiences: Arm Numbness During Migraine Attacks

As someone who has been living with migraine attacks for years, I have had my fair share of experiences with arm numbness during attacks. It can be a startling sensation, and at times, it can even be scary. I vividly remember one particular episode when I was hit by a severe migraine, and my entire left arm went numb. It lasted for several hours and left me feeling helpless and anxious.

Coping Mechanisms for Dealing with Arm Numbness During a Migraine

Distraction Techniques

One of the strategies I have found helpful for managing arm numbness during a migraine attack is to engage in activities that divert my attention away from the discomfort. Distraction techniques can vary from person to person, but some examples that have worked for me include:

  • Listening to calming music or audiobooks
  • Watching movies or TV shows that capture my interest
  • Engaging in light hobbies such as coloring or knitting

Applying Heat or Cold to the Affected Arm

Another technique that has provided me with some relief from arm numbness is applying heat or cold to the affected area. Heat can help relax tense muscles and improve blood circulation, while cold can numb the area and reduce swelling. Here are a few methods to try:

  • Using a heating pad or hot water bottle
  • Applying a cold compress or an ice pack
  • Taking a warm bath or shower

Massage or Gentle Stretching Exercises

Massage and gentle stretching exercises can promote blood flow, relieve tension, and reduce numbness in the arm. Here are a few simple techniques that can be done at home:

  • Rubbing the affected arm gently with your opposite hand
  • Rolling a tennis ball or foam roller along the arm
  • Performing gentle stretching exercises like shoulder rolls or wrist circles

Seeking Medical Intervention

While self-help techniques can provide temporary relief, it is crucial to know when to seek medical help for arm numbness during a migraine. If the numbness becomes severe, frequent, or is accompanied by other concerning symptoms, it is essential to consult a healthcare professional. They may recommend the following treatment options:

  • Prescription medications specifically targeting migraine symptoms
  • Referral to a specialist, such as a neurologist or pain management physician
  • Alternative therapies such as acupuncture or chiropractic care

Lifestyle Changes to Prevent or Minimize Arm Numbness During Migraines

Regular Exercise Routine

Engaging in regular exercise has shown to improve circulation and reduce the risk of arm numbness during migraine attacks. It doesn’t have to be intense or strenuous; even gentle activities like walking, yoga, or swimming can be beneficial. Before starting any exercise program, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional.

Stress Management Techniques

Stress is a common trigger for migraine attacks and can also exacerbate arm numbness. Finding effective stress management techniques can help prevent or minimize symptoms. Some stress management strategies that have worked for me include:

  • Practicing meditation or deep breathing exercises
  • Engaging in hobbies or activities that promote relaxation, such as painting or gardening
  • Establishing a regular sleep routine and prioritizing restful sleep

Dietary Modifications

While the connection between diet and migraine attacks can vary from person to person, certain foods have been identified as common triggers. Keeping a food diary and identifying any patterns between certain foods and migraine attacks can help guide dietary modifications. It may be worth considering:

  • Avoiding foods high in tyramine, such as aged cheeses, cured meats, and fermented foods
  • Limiting the consumption of processed foods and artificial additives
  • Paying attention to personal triggers and avoiding them as much as possible

Additional Tips for Coping with Migraines and Arm Numbness

Keeping a Migraine Diary

One useful tool for managing migraine attacks is keeping a detailed migraine diary. This diary helps track symptoms, identify triggers, and monitor the effectiveness of various coping mechanisms. Some key information to include in a migraine diary are:

  • Date and time of each migraine attack
  • The duration and intensity of the migraine
  • Specific symptoms experienced, including arm numbness
  • Possible triggers, such as stress, food, or weather changes

Seeking Support from Loved Ones or Support Groups

Living with migraine attacks and arm numbness can feel isolating, but remember that you are not alone. Connecting with loved ones or joining support groups can provide a sense of understanding, validation, and emotional support. Online communities, such as forums or social media groups, can also be helpful resources for finding support and sharing experiences.


Living with migraine attacks and arm numbness can be challenging, but there are coping mechanisms and lifestyle changes that can make a significant difference. By finding what works best for you and seeking support when needed, you can better manage these symptoms and improve your quality of life. Remember to always consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice and guidance on managing your migraine attacks and arm numbness.


Jenny from Migraine Buddy

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