Almost everyone has experienced what it is like for their limbs to fall asleep, usually because they have sat or lain on it in such a way that blood flow was restricted. Most of the time the feeling comes back in just a few minutes, but there are those people who experience lasting and persistent numbness in their extremities. This numbness could be a sign that your limbs are not getting enough blood and the lack of oxygen to those tissues can cause serious and lasting problems if not addressed immediately. There are three general stages of treatment that you might have access to, depending on how soon you seek medical attention and how extreme your case is.
If you are able to get treatment before the numbness gets out of hand you might be able to take care of the problem with lifestyle changes, in consultation with your doctor. You will need to cut out things like smoking and high cholesterol foods, as well as any kind of undue stress in your life. When combined with an increase in regular exercise you will see a reduction in blood flow restriction and your overall level of health will increase dramatically, but you will need to be vigilant about your changes and do not revert back to your old lifestyle just because the numbness seems to have gone away. Your doctor may prescribe medication to help speed up the process, and for many people this is enough to treat the numbness; however, sometimes more drastic measures will need to be taken.
The longer you go without seeing the doctor, the more likely it is that you will need to seek some kind of surgical option to keep the limb from dying. The most common approach for this type of treatment is angioplasty, where the doctor uses a balloon to remove blockages in the peripheral arteries and restore the flow of blood. With advances in modern medicine and the rise of minimally invasive surgery, many patients will be able to do their angioplasty on an outpatient basis, and they will never have to spend a night in the hospital. More serious blockages will require a more substantive solution, usually in the form of a stent. These mesh tubes are inserted into the artery and the form a rigid structure that keeps the artery open and the blood flowing long after the procedure is completed.
The last resort, and a move only to be taken to save the patient’s life, is amputation of the limb whose artery is blocked. This is almost always a case of patient neglect or laziness because they did not let their doctor know that they were experiencing numbness or pain before things got to be too late. Once amputation becomes a legitimate medical choice many doctors will present that as the best solution to their patients, primarily because it is the safest medical path for the doctor. There are some doctors and clinics, like the California Heart Clinic, who specialize in methods and treatment options that reduce the need for amputation, and if your doctor is telling you that the best hope you have at survival is amputation, do not have the surgery done until you speak with a prevention specialist.
Numbness is one of those symptoms that is really easy to ignore because it does not seem all that serious at the time, but it can be one of the best early warning signs of heart trouble that your body is giving you. As with any other symptom of heart disease it is vital that you talk to your doctor immediately, as the longer the problem persists, the worse it will get.
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I am Karen Henning and last year I lost my husband to heart disease. He had complained of numbness for several weeks, but we both felt we were too busy to go see a doctor, until he had a massive heart attack one day when driving home from work. I wrote this article as a warning to get checked out if you have symptoms of heart disease.