What is arm pain?
Arm pain is defined as discomfort or pain experienced anywhere throughout the arm, and it can include pain in the wrist, elbow, and shoulder.
Arm pain can be caused by a wide variety of problems, ranging from joint injuries to compressed nerves. Depending on the cause, arm pain can start suddenly or develop over time.
In many cases, arm pain actually originates from a problem in your neck or upper spine. Arm pain, particularly pain that radiates into your left arm, can even be a sign of a heart attack.
How common is arm pain?
Arm pain is extremely common. It can occur in patients in any gender at any age. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
Which signs and symptoms can arm pain usually be associated with?
Related signs and symptoms include:
- Swollen lymph nodes under the arm
What causes arm pain?
Causes of arm pain can include:
- Pinched nerves. Pinched nerves happen when a nerve has too much pressure on it due to surrounding bones, muscle, cartilage, tendons.
- Sprains are stretching or tearing of the ligaments or tendons, and they’re common injuries. You can take care of a mild sprain at home, but more severe strains may require surgery.
- Tendonitis is inflammation of the tendon. It commonly occurs in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. Tendonitis can vary from mild to severe.
- Rotator cuff injury. These occur most often in people who perform overhead motions in their daily lives, like painters or baseball players.
- Broken bones. Broken or fractured bones can cause immense, sharp pain in the arm. You may hear an audible snap when the bone breaks.
- Rheumatoid arthritis. This is a chronic disorder caused by inflammation that most directly affects the joints.
- Angina is chest pain that occurs when your heart isn’t getting enough oxygen. It can cause pain in the arm and shoulder as well as pressure in your chest, neck, and back. Having angina often indicates an underlying heart problem.
- Heart attack. Heart attacks occur when blood can’t get to the heart due to a blockage, cutting off the heart’s oxygen supply. This can cause sections of the heart muscle to die if oxygen doesn’t return quickly.
The conditions mentioned above are some common causes of arm pain. Consult with your doctor for an accurate diagnosis.
What increases my risk for arm pain?
You are more likely to experience arm pain if you have any of the condition mentioned above.
Please consult with your doctor for further information.
When to see your doctor
When should I see my doctor?
You should contact your doctor if you or your loved one has any of the following:
- Arm, shoulder or back pain that comes on suddenly, is unusually severe, or is accompanied by pressure, fullness or squeezing in your chest (this may signal a heart attack)
- An obvious deformity or protruding bone in your arm or wrist, especially if you have bleeding or other injuries
- Arm, shoulder or back pain that occurs with any sort of exertion and is relieved by rest — possibly signaling heart disease or chest discomfort caused by reduced blood flow to your heart muscle (angina)
- A sudden injury to your arm, particularly if you hear a snap or cracking sound
- Severe pain and swelling in your arm
- Trouble moving your arm normally or turning your arm from palm up to palm down and vice versa
- Arm pain that doesn’t improve after home care
- Increasing redness, swelling or pain in the injured area
On noticing one of these symptoms or having any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor to get the best solutions for your situation.
Lifestyle changes & home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage arm pain?
These following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with arm pain:
- Rest. Sometimes, all the body needs is rest. Rest the area in pain, and avoid strenuous exercise and movement.
- Ice. Icing injuries can often help to reduce swelling and inflammation. Use an ice pack, covered in a towel, for 20 minutes at a time on the affected area. Wait for at least an hour between ice packs.
- Over-the-counter (OTC) painkillers. If you don’t want to take a trip to your doctor and your pain is mild, OTC pain medications like aspirin or ibuprofen can help treat your discomfort. Don’t use these medications for longer than their recommended use.
- Compression. Wrapping the affected area with an elastic bandage or brace can help reduce swelling and prevent you from extending a joint too far, encouraging healing.
- Elevation. Keep your arm elevated to help reduce swelling and pain.
If any of these remedies make your pain worse, stop the home treatment immediately and consult your doctor.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor for the best solutions.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
What Causes Arm Pain? https://www.healthline.com/symptom/arm-pain. Accessed January 3, 2019.
Arm pain. https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/arm-pain/basics/when-to-see-doctor/sym-20050870. Accessed January 3, 2019.
Review Date: January 3, 2019 | Last Modified: January 3, 2019