Neurologic Deficit

Neurologic Deficit

Is this your symptom?

  • Weakness or paralysis of the face, arm, or leg
  • Numbness or tingling of the face, arm, or leg
  • Loss of speech, garbled or confused speech

Some Basics...

  • New face, arm, or leg weakness on one side of the body is almost always serious.
  • The same is true for new numbness of the face, arm, or leg on one side of the body.
  • Of course, new slurred speech or trouble speaking is also usually serious.
  • A person with these symptoms should seek emergency care right away.

Causes

  • Bells Palsy: This is one-sided face weakness due to a paralyzed facial nerve. The main symptom is a crooked smile.
  • Brain tumor
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Guillain-BarrĂ© Syndrome
  • Head trauma with brain bleeding (such as epidural or subdural hematoma)
  • Hemiplegic or hemisensory migraine
  • Meningitis, encephalitis
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Neuropathy
  • Spinal cord problem (such as tumor, disc protrusion, epidural abscess)
  • Stroke ("Brain Attack", cerebrovascular accident, CVA)
  • Subarachnoid hemorrhage
  • TIA (transient ischemic attack)
  • Todd's paralysis: This is one-sided weakness that happens after a seizure and then goes away.
  • Transverse Myelitis

What is a stroke (brain attack)?

  • A stroke means a part of the brain is damaged because blood flow to that area has stopped.
  • Ischemic stroke is a type of stroke that occurs when a blood vessel in the brain becomes blocked with a blood clot.
  • The clot may form in a very narrow blood vessel or may travel to the brain from another area in the body. Another medical term for this type of stroke is ischemic cerebral vascular accident (CVA).
  • Hemorrhagic stroke is a type of stroke that occurs when a blood vessel breaks and causes bleeding in the brain. Another medical term for this type of stroke is hemorrhagic cerebral vascular accident (CVA).
  • A layperson term that means the same thing is brain attack.

Symptoms of a stroke are:

  • Sudden onset of weakness or numbness of one side of the body
  • Sudden loss of speech or vision, and/or
  • Sudden dizziness and unsteadiness
  • There may or may not be a headache

Some less common symptoms are:

  • Blurred or seeing double
  • Coma (not responding, will not wake up)
  • Confusion

Treatment depends on the type of stroke and how quickly a person seeks care. In some cases a clot buster drug can be used. However, for this drug to work best, it needs to be given within a few hours of when symptoms start.

What is a TIA?

  • A transient ischemic attack (TIA) means the blood flow to an area in the brain is blocked for a brief time.
  • Common causes are a small blood clot in a blood vessel or a blood vessel that is too narrow.
  • A more common name for this problem is a mini stroke.

The symptoms are the same as a stroke, but they go away after a few minutes or hours.

When to Call for Neurologic Deficit

Call 911 Now

  • Trouble waking up or acting confused
  • New or sudden onset of weakness of the face, arm, or leg on one side of the body
  • New or sudden onset of numbness (loss of feeling) of the face, arm, or leg on one side of the body
  • New or sudden onset of slurred speech or trouble talking
  • You think you have a life-threatening emergency

Call Doctor or Seek Care Now

  • New or sudden onset of tingling (pins and needles) of the face, arm, or leg on one side of the body
  • Any of the following symptoms that have lasted longer than one week:
    • Weakness of the face, arm, or leg on one side of the body
    • Numbness of the face, arm, or leg on one side of the body
    • Slurred speech or trouble talking
  • Any of the following symptoms that are longstanding but getting worse:
    • Weakness of the face, arm, or leg on one side of the body
    • Numbness of the face, arm, or leg on one side of the body
    • Slurred speech or trouble talking
  • Back pain with numbness (loss of feeling) in groin or rectal area
  • You are worried you may have Bell's palsy (weakness of one side of face, developing over hours to days, no other symptoms)
  • You feel weak or very sick
  • You think you need to be seen, and the problem is urgent

Call Doctor Within 24 Hours

  • New numbness or tingling of both hands
  • New numbness or tingling of both feet
  • You think you need to be seen, but the problem is not urgent

Call Doctor During Office Hours

  • Any of the following symptoms are longstanding and unchanged:
    • Weakness of the face, arm, or leg
    • Numbness or tingling of the face, arm, or leg
    • Loss of speech or garbled speech
  • You have other questions or concerns

Self Care at Home

  • Brief (now gone) tingling or burning feeling in hand after bumped elbow
  • Brief (now gone) tingling of hand after laying on arm a long time such as during sleep
  • Brief (now gone) tingling in foot after sitting with legs crossed for a long time

Care Advice

You Suspect a Stroke (Brain Attack)

  1. Call 9-1-1 right away if you think you or someone you know is having a stroke.
  2. If you think someone may be having a stroke, act F.A.S.T. and do the following simple test:
    • F - Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
    • A - Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
    • S - Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is the speech slurred or strange?
    • T - Time: If you see any of these signs, call 9-1-1 right away.

You Bruised your Funny Bone

  1. What You Should Know:
    • A bruised ulnar nerve is a mild elbow injury caused by a blow to the elbow (ulnar) nerve.
    • The main symptoms are burning pain and tingling that runs down the lower arm into the hand. You may also get pain in the middle, ring, and little (pinkie) fingers.
    • Another medical term that means the same thing is ulnar nerve contusion. A more common name for this injury is hitting your funny bone.
  2. What to Expect:
    • This should last just a few minutes.
    • If the symptoms last longer than 30 minutes, then you should call your doctor.
    • If this problem happens to you very often, then you should see your doctor for an exam.
  3. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Numbness or tingling lasts longer than 30 minutes
    • This happens often
    • You think you need to be seen
    • You get worse

Your Arm Falls Asleep

  1. What You Should Know:
    • Your arm and hand can feel numb if you sleep on the arm wrong.
    • Some people describe this as their arm or hand falling asleep.
    • Putting too much pressure on one of the nerves in the arm causes this problem.
  2. What to Expect:
    • The numbness and tingling should last just a few minutes.
    • Stretch and gently move your arm. This should help make your symptoms go away in a few minutes.
  3. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Numbness or tingling lasts longer than 30 minutes
    • This happens often
    • You think you need to be seen
    • You get worse

Your Leg Falls Asleep

  1. What You Should Know:
    • Your leg and foot can feel numb if you cross your legs for a long period or sit wrong.
    • People describe this as their leg or foot falling asleep.
    • Putting too much pressure on one of the nerves in the leg, near the knee, causes this problem.
  2. What to Expect:
    • The numbness and tingling should last just a few minutes.
    • Stretch and gently move your leg. This should help make your symptoms go away in a few minutes.
  3. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Numbness or tingling lasts longer than 30 minutes
    • This happens often
    • You get worse

And remember, contact your doctor if you develop any of the 'Call Your Doctor' symptoms.

Disclaimer: this health information is for educational purposes only. You, the reader, assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.


Last Reviewed: 9/20/2018 1:00:44 AM
Last Updated: 3/31/2018 1:00:53 AM

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