By Medicover Hospitals / 17 Feb 2021
Physical discomfort in any part of the arm. Arm pain can have causes that are not due to an underlying disease. Examples include weight training, sprains, strains, trauma, or working with the arms up, such as when painting.
- What is arm pain?
- When to visit a Doctor?
- Home Remedies
What is arm pain?
We depend on our arms for most of our daily tasks. If one arm hurt, it would really affect the way you go about your day, from doing household chores to completing your work assignments. Arm pain is any kind of pain or soreness in the arm that's considered the area from the shoulder joint to the wrist joint.
Other signs can accompany arm pain such as pain, stiffness, swelling, and the inability to move without causing pain. Arm pain can last briefly or be constant and can affect the entire arm or just one particular area. The pain may feel achy, piercing, or tingly.
Arm pain occurs most often after an injury or fall, but it can also have other causes. The pain could be coming from the arm itself, or it could indicate a problem somewhere other than the arm.
If the pain is coming from the arm itself, it may be resulting from simple muscle or tendon fatigue, overexertion, or repeated and prolonged use of the arms (for example, at work or when exercising). It could also be due to tendonitis, bruising from an impact injury, a sprain, or a fracture.
Pinched nerves occur when a nerve is under too much pressure from the environment:
- sharp pain
- muscle weakness
Sprains are stretches or tears of the ligaments or tendons. They are common injuries. You can take care of a minor sprain at home, but more serious strains may require surgery. Common signs may include swelling, bruising, constrained joint mobility, and an unstable joint.
Tendonitis is an inflammation of the tendon. It commonly occurs on the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. Tendonitis can range from mild to severe. Other symptoms include mild swelling, tenderness, and dull, aching pain.
Rotator cuff injury:
These occur most often in people who perform aerial movements in their daily lives, such as painters or baseball players. Symptoms include a dull pain in the shoulder and possible arm weakness.
Broken or fractured bones can cause severe, sharp pain in the arm. You may hear an audible click when the bone breaks. Signs include:
- Severe pain
- A visible deformity
- Inability to turn the palm of the hand
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disorder caused by inflammation that mainly affects the joints. Common symptoms include:
- Hot and tender joints
- Swelling of the joints
- Stiff joints
Angina is chest pain that occurs while the heart does not get sufficient oxygen. It can cause pain in the arm and shoulder, and pressure on the chest, neck, and back. Sometimes angina often shows an underlying heart problem. Other symptoms can include:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
Heart attacks occur when blood cannot reach the heart due to a blockage that cuts off the oxygen supply to the heart. This can cause sections of the heart muscle to die if oxygen does not return quickly. If it is a heart attack you may experience:
- Pain in one or both arms
- Shortness of breath
- Pain in another part of the upper body
- A cold sweat
- Chest pain
The doctor will first need to diagnose the underlying cause of the pain to treat it. They will first take a history and physical exam, asking about your activity, injuries, and symptoms.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test uses a magnetic field and radio waves to create detailed images of areas of your body.
- An ultrasound test makes use of sound waves to produce images of structures of your body and may be useful in diagnosing compression syndromes, including carpal tunnel syndrome.
- The nerve conduction study procedure measures nerve impulses when a small amount of electrical current applies to detect damaged nerves.
- The electromyography (EMG) test involves inserting a needle electrode into the muscles to measure their electrical activity, which can help detect damage to the nerves that lead to the muscles.
- Blood tests can assist your physician to discover some conditions that may cause arm pain, which includes diabetes, or certain conditions that cause inflammation of the joints.
- If your doctor thinks the arm pain is associated with heart complications, you may order tests to assess how your heart is working and to assess blood flow through your heart.
Treatments for arm pain will vary based on the cause and severity of your arm pain or many forms of arm pain, self-care and over-the-counter treatments are sufficient to effectively resolve pain. If you have arm pain due to overexertion or a pinched nerve, avoid repetitive movements and take frequent breaks from activities that stress the area.
- Analgesic. In some cases, the pain in your arm may be severe enough that your doctor will prescribe pain relievers.
- Anti-inflammatory drugs. For pain because of inflammation, anti-inflammatory medications such as corticosteroids can help reduce the underlying cause and subsequent pain. Anti-inflammatory medications are available as oral medications, injections, and intravenous medications.
- Physical therapy. You might also additionally want to deal with a few arm aches with physical therapy, mainly if you have a constrained variety of motion.
- Surgery. In extreme cases of arm pain, surgical treatment can be necessary. Examples consist of torn ligaments and broken bones.
When to visit a Doctor?
Most of the time, arm pain is not a sign of a medical emergency and is treatable with the help of home remedies. However, you must get emergency medical attention sometimes.
If you suspect that a heart attack or other heart condition is causing your arm pain.
Other symptoms of a heart attack include:
Sometimes if your arm, shoulder, elbow, or wrist pain results from severe trauma or comes on suddenly. If you have trouble moving your arm or see protruding bones, see your doctor right away, if you suspect your arm pain is because of a fracture.
- chest pain or pressure
- pain in the back, neck, or upper body
- shortness of breath
- sudden injury
- severe pain and swelling
- difficulty moving or rotating your arm
- arm pain that does not improve after home care
- increasing redness, swelling, or pain in the injured area
- sudden injury to your arm, especially if you hear a clicking or cracking noise
- difficulty moving the arm normally or turning it from palm up to palm down and vice versa.
If you have a pinched nerve or repetitive stress injury, be consistent with therapy, maintain good posture, and take frequent breaks from work and during repetitive activities, such as playing an instrument or practicing your golf swing.
- Take a break from your normal activities by resting yourself.
- Ice Put an ice pack or a bag of frozen peas on the painful area for 15 to 20 minutes, three times a day.
- Use a compression bandage to reduce swelling.
- Raise your arm above heart level to help reduce swelling.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Injury or trauma to any part of the arm or shoulder, including bone fractures, joint dislocations, and muscle strains and sprains, are common causes of arm pain.
Small aches and pains in the left arm frequently are a normal part of aging. However, sudden or unusual pain in the left arm could be a sign of a more serious medical problem.
The most common cause of pain in the shoulder and right arm is a problem with the rotator cuffs, such as tendonitis or bursitis.
Sleeping on your arm can cause pain and numbness in your arm and shoulder, plus it can misalign your head and neck from your spine, resulting in further discomfort. If you regularly sleep on your arm and your hands fall asleep or your arm hurts, the problem might be your pillow.
Impact of Neck and Arm Pain on Overall Health Status - https://journals.lww.com/spinejournal/Abstract/2003/09010/Impact_of_Neck_and_Arm_Pain_on_Overall_Health.23.aspx
Arm Pain - https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/117/2/412.short
Chronic arm pain - https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/art.23580