Arm Pain

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There are multiple medical reasons for arm pain. Some arm pain is actually caused by problems in the neck or spine. Pain in the arm, particularly the left arm, can even be a symptom of a heart attack.

Causes of arm pain

Arm pain can be due to injury, arthritis or otherconditions affecting the nerves, bones, joints, blood vessels, soft tissues, muscles or tendons. It can occur anywhere in the arm from the shoulder to the wrist. Some common causes of arm pain include the following:

  • Arm Injuries
  • Joint dislocation – traumatic injury shifts bones from correct position
  • Fractures – broken bones
  • Sprains or strains –stretching or tearing of muscle, ligaments or tendons
  • Arthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis – an autoimmune condition
  • Osteoarthritis – chronic use that leads to damage of cartilage in joints
  • Post-traumatic arthritis – arthritis that develops as a result of injury
  • Avascular arthritis –interrupted blood flow that destroys joint tissue
  • Other Conditions
  • Peripheral vascular disease – disease of the blood vessels in the arm
  • Bursitis –inflammation of the bursa, small fluid-filled joint cushions
  • Thoracic outlet syndrome – compression of blood vessels or nerves between the collarbone and first rib

These are just a few conditions that can cause arm pain.

Symptoms that may occur with arm pain

Depending on the cause of arm pain, other symptoms may also be present.

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Numbness
  • Stiffness
  • Deformity

Treatment of arm pain

Treatment of arm pain is based on the underlying cause. Depending on the type and severity of arm pain, symptom improvement may be seen by using R.I.C.E. treatment.

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compression
  • Elevation

More severe injury or arm pain requires prompt medical attention.

  • Sudden arm pain especially if a snapping sound is heard
  • Severe arm pain accompanied by swelling
  • Limited range of motion in arm
  • Deformity of any portion of the arm

Sudden arm pain that occurs with shortness of breath, pressure, squeezing or heaviness in the chest are symptoms indicative of a heart attach and is a medical emergency.


Orthopedic Surgeons

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