Arm Pain Signs & Symptoms
25 Sep 2018
What is Arm Pain?
Arm pain is defined as discomfort or pain experienced anywhere throughout thearm, 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.
What are the Causes of Arm Pain?
Possible causes of arm pain include:
- Angina (reduced blood flow to the heart)
- Broken arm
- Broken wrist/broken hand
- Bursitis (joint inflammation)
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Cervical disk herniation
- Dislocated elbow
- Heart attack
- Rheumatoid arthritis (inflammatory joint disease)
- Rotator cuff injury
- Sprains and strains
- Tennis elbow
What are the Symptoms of Arm Pain?
A person with arm pain usually experiences soreness, itching, numbness, or discomfort in the structures of the arm. Everyday activities, including typing, writing, working with tools, playing sports, lifting heavy objects, or exercising can cause arm pain. Common Symptoms Include the following:
- Limited range of motion
- Swollen lymph glands under the arm
- Soreness and stiffness in the elbow joint and forearm, with intermittent sharp aches and pain in the elbow
- pain, numbness, and itching of the arms, palms, and fingers
- chest pain
When To Seek Medical Advice Arm Pain
Seek emergency treatment if you have:
- 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
See your doctor right away if you have:
- 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 Prevention Tips
Even serious arm injuries can be helped initially with home treatment. If you think that you have a broken arm or wrist, apply ice packs to the affected area and use a sling to help hold your arm still until you can get medical care. If you have a compressed nerve or repetitive strain injury, be consistent about therapy; maintain good posture; and take frequent breaks at work and during repetitive activities, such as playing an instrument or practicing your golf swing.
- Rest. Take a break from your normal activities.
- Ice. Place an ice pack or bag of frozen peas on the sore area for 15 to 20 minutes three times a day.
- Compression. Use a compression bandage to reduce swelling.
- Elevation. If possible, elevate your arm to help reduce swelling.
Arm Pain Treatment
People with nerve damage or compressed nerves in the arm, wrist, elbow, or hand should avoid repetitive movements and take frequent breaks. Painkillers either over the counter or on prescription can help to relieve arm pain depending on how severe the pain is. Also Pain Relief Patches could help to relieve the pressure of the pain experienced on the affected area of the arm. If you are experiencing arm pain caused by overuse or exertion, you can try to alleviate the pain at home. If your arm, shoulder, elbow, or wrist is swollen, apply ice packs (or a pack of frozen vegetables) to the area and use a sling to keep the arm still. The treatment for arm pain depends on the underlying cause. Treatment for arm pain may include rest, elevation, an elastic wrap, a splint or sling, cold compresses, acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) for pain, and surgery. Additional treatment for arm pain caused by infection may include warm compresses and antibiotics.