By Medicover Hospitals / 17 Feb 2021
Arm weakness refers to the loss of strength in the arm and the inability to move an arm due to decreased muscle strength. Over time, it can occur randomly or develop slowly.
- What is Arm weakness?
- When to visit a Doctor?
What is Arm weakness?
Whether you're struggling to shampoo your hair or grab a heavy box off the garage shelf, arm weakness can be a concerning symptom. Arm weakness, sometimes called paresis or paralysis, is the inability to fully raise the arms. Arm weakness can occur on one or both sides of the body can accompany weakness in other parts of the body, and can occur with a variety of other signs, including arm pain. If you have arm weakness, you may have a hard time just moving your affected arm, or you may have a hard time performing daily tasks.
Arm weakness can accompany other symptoms including:
- Lump in arm
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle pain
- Reduced mobility (range of motion of the joints)
- Shoulder, arm, hand, or finger pain
- Swollen joints
- Confusion or loss of consciousness
- Difficulty chewing, swallowing, or speaking
- Muscle spasms
- Lump in arm
- Numbness or tingling
- Malaise or lethargy
- Redness, warmth, or swelling in the arm
The blockage or rupture of a brain artery:
The blockage or rupture can cause serious symptoms that do not go away and must treat right away. The blockage can be temporary or transitory and go away on its own after a few hours or minutes. However, it still needs to treat immediately, as it is a serious warning sign.
An arm injury, either sudden or over time, can lead to weakness.
Trauma from a fall or accident can cause localized damage to the nerves or muscles in the arm.
An overuse injury:
An overuse injury, also known as a repetitive stress injury (RSI), can become permanent if left untreated. It is caused by long-term damage to the nerves, muscles, and tendons in the arm or shoulder from prolonged periods of exercising the arm with the same movement. Simple fatigue from unaccustomed exercise can also cause RSI.
Arm weakness refers to the loss of strength in the arm and the inability to move an arm due to decreased muscle strength.
This is overuse that can cause pain, protection, and subjective weakness in the affected arm.
Nerve or disc damage:
These conditions can cause pain in the upper back and neck. The arm may appear weak because you are trying not to use it, or it is "protecting" it because it causes pain in your back and neck when you move it.
A rupture or other damage to a cervical disc:
This is the fluid between the bones of the spine for cushioning. Wear and tear of bones and cartilage due to normal aging.
Crowding of the nerve roots in the neck:
Crowding of the nerve roots in the neck can cause pain and weakness in the arm.
Arthritis in the spine:
This can cause bone spurs that pinch on nerves.
Narrowing of the spinal cord:
This can cause pressure on the spinal cord.
Thyroid disorders also raise the risk, for reasons that are not completely apparent, of carpal tunnel syndrome.
Diabetes-related nerve damage can increase the risk of nerve compression.
Obesity Higher body weight can put more pressure on nerves, increasing the risk of compression.
To treat it, the doctor would first need to diagnose the root source of the discomfort. They will first take a history and physical exam, asking about your activity, possible injuries, and symptoms. Based on your symptoms, the following tests can help your doctor make a diagnosis:
- Your doctor may ask you to raise your arms or do other simple movements to assess your range of motion. This can help them identify the location and cause of possible injury or pain.
- Blood testing can help the doctor diagnose certain diseases, such as asthma, that can cause arm pain or certain conditions that cause joint inflammation.
- Your doctor will detect broken or cracked bones by doing X-rays.
- If your doctor thinks your arm pain is associated with possible heart complications, he or she may order tests to assess how well your heart is working and to assess the blood flow through your heart.
- Ultrasounds use high-frequency sound waves to get a picture of the inside of the body. They can help your doctor find problems with your joints, ligaments, and tendons.
- Your doctor may order MRIs and CT scans to get a more detailed image of your soft tissues and bones. This can help them spot problems.
For many forms of arm pain, self-care and over-the-counter treatments are sufficient to effectively resolve the pain.
- Pain medications: In some cases, the pain in your arm may be severe enough that your doctor will prescribe pain relievers.
- Anti-inflammatory drugs: 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 may need to treat some arm pain with physical therapy, especially when you have a limited range of motion.
- Surgery: In severe cases of arm pain, surgery may be necessary. Torn ligaments and fractured bones are examples.
When to visit a Doctor?
Seek immediate medical attention if you, or someone you are with, have any of these life-threatening symptoms, including:
- Change in level of consciousness or alertness, such as fainting or unresponsiveness.
- Incomprehensible or slurred speech
- High fever
- Paralysis or inability to move a part of the body
- Sudden weakness, numbness, or tingling on one side of the body
- Changes or loss of vision
- The worst headache of your life
Reduce your strength: If you are typing or operating a cash register, do not press the keys too hard.
Relax your grip: Do not grasp a pen, handle, or anything else harder than necessary to perform the task at hand.
Take breaks: Even short breaks from repetitive tasks can help you avoid injury, especially if you use these moments to stretch and bend your hands and wrists.
Observe your shape and posture: Don't bend your wrists too much in either direction and don't hunch your shoulders forward when performing tasks.
Optimize your computer mouse: Make sure your hand reaches for the mouse at a comfortable angle, You may need to experiment with different positions and products to achieve this arrow up. Stay warm Keep your hands warm when performing tasks and wear gloves.
Mix up your exercise: Don't do the same type of exercise over and over, day after day. A varied exercise routine is less likely to cause injury.
Stretch after exercise: Work on increasing your range of motion once your muscles are warm.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Facial nerve paralysis (paralytic lagophthalmos) is the primary cause of lagophthalmos but also happens during trauma or surgery (cicatricial lagophthalmos) or during sleep (nocturnal lagophthalmos).
It can be inherited, so if you sleep with your eyes open, your baby might as well (but most kids outgrow it when they get older). However, if you still experience nocturnal lagophthalmos in adulthood, it is important to see a doctor.
Your doctor may prescribe you eye drops and ointments if you have nocturnal lagophthalmos, which protect your eyes from drying out.
Brain Journal - https://academic.oup.com/brain/article-abstract/112/3/749/293615
Wiley Online Library - https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/(SICI)1097-4598(200004)23:4%3C641::AID-MUS25%3E3.0.CO;2-M