PT on the Net Research

Numb Arms and Legs when Running


I am currently training a middle aged male client who consistently gets a numb right arm when ever he pushes himself running, typically not more than 30 minutes. Occasionally, he gets a similar sort of feeling of numbness and break down in neuromuscular coordination in his right leg while running (he seems to lose half his stride length in his right leg). We are in England where drivers use their right foot and right hand for driving, and my client has been driving two to three hours a day for the last five years, plus he has an office job. A profile analysis showed that he had a winged right scapula. He has been referred to a physio therapist, but no answers have emerged. Do you have any thoughts as to what could be causing this?


I had to run this one by my wife who's a rheumatologist and happens to have multiple sclerosis. Her first thought was that there may be a problem involving a spinal nerve such as prolapse, herniation, stenosis, etc. This would be consistent with your client's lifestyle of so much driving and sitting. However, the physiotherapist probably checked for this.

My wife's second thought was that this could in fact be multiple sclerosis or similar neurological condition. She suggests your client see a physician as soon as possible. This is in the best interest of both you and your client.

Of course, you want what's best for your client. And for both ethical and legal reasons, you need to be positive that nothing you're doing could exacerbate the problem - but first you have to understand exactly what the problem is. You can do that only with a diagnosis from a physician.

Besides, you will find that keeping in touch with your client's physician enhances your professionalism and can lead to a whole new world of referrals that have as much validity in a patient's eyes as a prescription.