Arm pain treatment: Arm Pain Causes and Relief
Arm Pain Causes and Relief
Causes of Arm Pain
What can cause chronic arm pain and how can you find relief? The answer depends on the underlying condition. Causes of severe arm pain can include conditions, such as:
- Exercise or overuse (muscle aches)
- Repetitive joint use (bursitis or joint inflammation)
- Bone fractures
- Joint dislocations
- Peripheral vascular disease
- Muscle, ligament or tendon strains (tendinitis) or sprains
- Skeletal structure irregularities
- Cardiac disorders or heart attack (angina)
- Angina pectoris that radiates to the arm
- Nerve damage
- Spine conditions such as cervical disk herniation
- Diabetic neuropathy
- Carpel tunnel syndrome
- Rotator cuff injury
- Other underlying conditions
It is important that you find out what causes your arms to ache, as there are many reasons for arm pain. At The Pain Center, we can help diagnose the cause to help you find relief.
Arm Pain Symptoms and Diagnosis
Be sure to inform your doctor of all your symptoms. Arm pain symptoms may include:
- Pain in the wrist, elbow or shoulder
- Arm weakness
- Pain in one or both arms
- Upper arm pain
- Sudden arm pain in the right arm
- Redness or discoloration of the skin on the arm
- Swelling of the arm, wrist, or elbow
- Stiffness in the joints
- Arm skin that is warm to the touch
- Itching or throbbing skin
- Pain that worsens when exercising
- Numbness or tingling
- Muscle pain / muscle aches
- Reduced range of motion
- Muscle cramps / sore arm
To diagnose the cause of your pain, your doctor will ask you questions about your health and family history, and do a physical examination. Other tests that can help diagnose the source of your pain include X-rays, MRI scan, CT scan, EMG/Nerve conduction studyand blood tests. It is important that your condition is properly diagnosed so that you can receive the most effective treatment.
How to Treat Arm Pain
How can you ease the discomfort of arm pain symptoms? Your treatment options depend on the underlying cause and severity of your arm pain.
Treatment may start with conservative therapies, such as over-the-counter aspirin, acetaminophen or ibuprofen. These nonprescription medications can be effective for certain types of arm pain when taken according to instructions. You may also consider home care such as drinking plenty of water to reduce muscle cramps. Stretching and massage can help. You may also try using heating or cold packs, taking warm baths or showers, and resting your arms. Elevate your arm(s) when you lie down. Compression bandaging can help reduce swelling.
The pain management specialists at The Pain Center may also recommend the following interventional pain therapies to reduce your arm pain:
- Prescription medications / medication management
- Topical agents (creams)
- Injections such as steroid medications
- Spinal Cord Stimulator
- Physical therapy (can include exercises, heat and cold therapy, and electrical nerve stimulation-TENS unit)
- Alternative treatments such as acupuncture, chiropractic adjustments and/or massage
Some of the interventional medical therapies we provide at The Pain Center include:
Our pain specialists can prescribe and regulate medication that you use to help control your pain. The pain management specialists will provide you with the knowledge you need to take your medications properly.
The Pain Center takes a conservative approach with medication management. We try to limit prescription medications to help avoid dependence.
One option for treating pain is injection of a steroid that can help reduce pain and inflammation. This can be very effective for arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoarthritis.
A nerve block is an injection therapy that reduces pain caused by nerves. This can help treat arm pain, radicular pain and/or peripheral neuropathy. This procedure injects a combination of local anesthetic agents around the peripheral nerve branches for optimal pain relief. Peripheral nerve blocks provide relief that lasts from a few weeks to a few months, depending upon the patient’s condition.
Spinal cord stimulation is an FDA-approved, minimally invasive procedure that requires the implantation of a nerve stimulation device. This treatment delivers low-voltage electrical currents to areas of the spine, ultimately reducing pain signals caused by chronic pain in the arm(s). Patients living with chronic pain, who have not responded to conservative treatments for at least six months, may be candidates for this procedure. A trial device is implanted before a permanent device is considered.
Contact The Pain Center today to learn more about how we can help you effectively manage your arm pain.
When Further Arm Pain Treatment is Required
Based on the underlying condition, further treatments may be required. If there is something that can be addressed by another type of specialist, we will refer you to the appropriate specialty doctor.
Commonly Asked Questions about Arm Pain
What causes arm pain?
Because arm pain has a number of causes, from muscle strains to traumatic injury or underlying conditions such as arthritis, it is important to get an accurate diagnosis upfront. Your doctor or pain specialist will help to diagnose and assess the cause of your arm pain to determine the most effective course of treatment for you.
What is the best treatment for upper arm pain symptoms?
The best treatment for you will depend upon your health situation and the cause of your pain. Your pain specialist will work with you to create a custom set of treatments to help you get relief from your pain and get back to your normal routine of activities. Your pain specialist will give you the information you need to understand and manage your condition.
How can the cause of my arm pain be diagnosed?
The Pain Center will work to diagnose your pain, or work with another specialist to help, if necessary. We will do an examination and ask you about your health and family history, and can provide additional tests such as blood tests or medical imaging (such as MRI or CT scans).
What can I do at home to help ease my discomfort?
There are many therapies you can use at home to help with arm pain, such as over-the-counter pain relievers (use as directed), rest, massage, elevation of the arm(s), cold or hot packs, and careful stretching.
I have been having neck problems. Could my arm pain be related to my neck?
It is possible for neck problems to cause pain in the arms. Sometimes, disc protrusion/herniation or degenerative changes in the cervical spine can cause pain that radiates out to the arm or hand.
I don’t have underlying conditions that could cause arm pain. What else could cause my symptoms?
Arm pain can be caused by overuse, anatomic abnormalities, or traumatic injuries such as falls. Your pain specialist can help determine the cause of your arm pain.
Arm Pain: Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatments
Arm Pain: Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatments
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Medically reviewed by William Morrison, M. D. — By Ana Gotter — Updated on August 21, 2019
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Arm pain is defined as discomfort or pain experienced anywhere throughout the arm. It can include pain in the wrist, elbow, and shoulder.
Arm pain can occur due to a variety of causes. The most common causes are injury or overuse. Depending on the cause, the pain may start suddenly and go away, or it may increase gradually.
The symptoms that can accompany arm pain will depend on the cause. They may include:
- arm redness
- swollen lymph nodes under the arm
Causes of arm pain and the accompanying symptoms can range from mild to severe. Possible causes of arm pain include:
Pinched nerves happen when a nerve has too much pressure on it due to surrounding:
Other symptoms can include:
- sharp pain
- muscle weakness
Sprains are stretching or tearing of the ligaments or tendons. They’re common injuries. You can take care of a mild sprain at home, but more severe strains may require surgery. Common symptoms can include swelling, bruising, limited joint mobility, and an unstable joint.
Tendonitis is inflammation of the tendon. It commonly occurs in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. Tendonitis can vary from mild to severe. Other symptoms include mild swelling, tenderness, and a dull, aching pain.
Rotator cuff injury
These occur most often in people who perform overhead motions in their daily lives, like painters or baseball players. Symptoms include a dull ache in the shoulder and potential arm weakness.
Broken or fractured bones can cause immense, sharp pain in the arm. You may hear an audible snap when the bone breaks. Symptoms include:
- severe pain
- a visible deformity
- an inability to turn your palm
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disorder caused by inflammation that primarily affects the joints. Common symptoms include:
- warm, tender joints
- swelling of the joints
- stiffness in 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. Other symptoms can include:
- chest pain
- shortness of breath
Heart attacks occur when blood can’t get to the heart due to a blockage that’s cutting off the heart’s oxygen supply. This can cause sections of the heart muscle to die if oxygen doesn’t return quickly. When experiencing a heart attack, you may have:
- pain in one or both arms
- shortness of breath
- pain elsewhere in your upper body
- a cold sweat
- chest pain
Call 911 if you think you’re having a heart attack.
Your doctor will first need to diagnose the underlying cause of the pain to treat it. They’ll first conduct a history and physical exam, asking you about your activity, potential injuries, and symptoms. Based on your symptoms, the following tests may help your doctor make a diagnosis:
- Your doctor may ask you to lift your arms or do other simple motions to evaluate your range of motion. This can help them identify the location and cause of potential injuries or pain.
- Blood tests can help your doctor detect some conditions that can cause arm pain, such as diabetes, or certain conditions that cause inflammation of the joints.
- X-rays can help your doctor diagnose broken or fractured bones.
- If your doctor thinks your arm pain is associated with potential heart complications, they may order tests to evaluate how your heart is working and evaluate the blood flow through your heart.
- Ultrasounds use high-frequency sound waves to get an image of the inside of the body. They can help your doctor detect problems with joints, ligaments, and tendons.
- Your doctor may order MRIs and CT scans to get a more detailed image of soft tissue and bones. This can help them detect problems.
Most of the time arm pain isn’t a sign of a medical emergency. In many cases, you can treat arm pain with home remedies. However, you should get emergency medical in some cases.
You should call 911 immediately if you suspect that a heart attack, or another heart condition, is causing your arm pain.
Other symptoms of a heart attack include:
- chest pain or pressure
- pain in the back, neck, or upper body
- shortness of breath
You should also seek immediate medical care or visit your nearest emergency room if you suspect your arm pain is due to a broken arm.
Other symptoms of a broken arm include:
- severe, sharp pain
- visible, physical deformities, like your arm or wrist sticking out an angle
- being unable to bend or turn over arms, hands, or fingers
Treatments for arm pain will vary on the cause and the severity of your arm pain.
Treatments for arm pain can include the following:
- Pain medication. For some cases, pain in the arm may be severe enough that your doctor will prescribe pain medication.
- Anti-inflammatory medications. For pain due to inflammation, anti-inflammatory medications like corticosteroids can help reduce the underlying cause and the subsequent pain. Anti-inflammatory drugs are available as oral medications, injections, and intravenous medications.
- Physical therapy. You may need to treat some arm pain with physical therapy, particularly when you have a limited range of motion.
- Surgery. In severe cases of arm pain, surgery may be necessary. Examples include torn ligaments and broken bones.
In addition to the medications your doctor can prescribe for arm pain, you can use a variety of treatments at home.
Examples of home remedies for arm pain include:
Sometimes, all the body needs is rest. Rest the area in pain, and avoid strenuous exercise and movement.
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 painful area. Wait for at least an hour between ice packs.
Shop for ice packs.
Over-the-counter (OTC) painkillers
If you don’t want to make an appointment to see 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.
Wrapping the area where you’re experiencing pain with an elastic bandage or brace can help reduce swelling and prevent you from extending a joint too far, encouraging healing.
Buy an elastic bandage and brace.
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.
In many cases, arm pain occurs due to a preventable injury or condition. You can do the following to prevent injury and arm pain:
- stretch regularly, particularly before exercising
- make sure you have the correct form for the exercises you’re performing to prevent injury
- wear protective equipment while playing sports
- stay in shape
- lift objects carefully
If, despite your best efforts, you’re still experiencing arm pain that’s persistent or interferes with your daily routine, see your doctor. They can determine the cause and discuss the best treatment options with you.
Last medically reviewed on August 20, 2019
How we reviewed this article:
Healthline has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.
- Angina (chest pain). (2015).
- Elbow and arm pain. (2017).
- Mayo Clinic Staff. (2018). Pinched nerve.
- Rotator cuff injury. (n.d.).
- Tendonitis/Tendinitis. (n.d.).
- What is a heart attack? (n.d.).
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Medically reviewed by William Morrison, M.D. — By Ana Gotter — Updated on August 21, 2019
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Pain in the arms: causes, consequences, methods of treatment
Pain in the arm is one of the most common complaints of patients who visit a neurologist or orthopedist. This symptom is not specific, as it can indicate the development of several diseases at once – arthritis, arthrosis, osteochondrosis, hernia, localized in the cervical or thoracic spine.
At the stage of diagnosis, the nature of the pain, which can be burning, aching or shooting, and the place of its localization are of great importance. In some cases, pain in the shoulders and upper limbs is only a consequence of problems with the back or neck, in others it indicates inflammation of the joints (in the elbows and wrists).
When should I see a doctor?
Practice shows that the vast majority of patients practice self-diagnosis, traditional medicine and uncontrolled use of painkillers. This approach always leads to one result: a neglected disease requires more serious, long-term and expensive treatment.
We strongly recommend that you see a specialist if you have any of the following symptoms:
- The pain persists for 3 days and is aggravated by any physical activity.
- The arm is swollen.
- Pain in the arm reduces its strength. Patients note the inability to perform the usual actions, stiffness of movements.
The sooner the diagnosis is made, the more effective the treatment will be. Our goal is to find and eliminate the cause, relieve a person from pain, and restore mobility.
What does arm pain indicate? The most common diseases
Does your arm hurt? There may be several reasons. In this article, we will talk about the most serious and common of them:
- Arthritis – inflammation of the joints and periarticular space.
The main symptoms are pain, swelling, deterioration of mobility, local hyperemia or hyperthermia, reaction to weather changes. Lack of treatment leads to joint deformity, changes in cartilage, ligaments and capsule. At the initial stage, arthritis affects the hands, feet, elbow and shoulder joints, then descends to the pelvis and knees. In the presence of several foci of inflammation, a diagnosis of polyarthritis is made. This pathology develops against the background of injuries, bruises and other damage to the ligamentous apparatus, infections, deficiency of bone or cartilage tissue, poor heredity, and disorders in the immune system. At risk are the elderly.
- Arthrosis – destruction of cartilage and joint capsule.
At risk are people over 45 years of age. Today, arthrosis occurs in every tenth inhabitant of the planet, so it is important to diagnose the disease in time and contact specialists. Main symptoms: inflammation, swelling, swelling, crunching in the joints, pain in the hands, elbows, feet, knees, hips and lower back. Primary arthrosis is an independent disease that occurs due to the fact that the cartilage tissue wears out faster than it is restored. If the pathological process occurs after injuries, against the background of endocrine disorders, osteoporosis, varicose veins, hormonal imbalance, physical inactivity and other problems, arthrosis is called secondary.
- Thoracic osteochondrosis is a disease in which intervertebral discs, joints and ligaments are destroyed.
Attack-like or shooting pain is the most striking symptom that occurs against the background of pinched spinal nerves. Among other manifestations, the most common paresis, “goosebumps”, a tingling sensation and muscle tension on palpation. Symptoms of osteochondrosis are similar to the manifestation of coronary heart disease, so we do not recommend postponing a visit to a specialist on the back burner. The disease develops for a number of reasons, including due to spinal injuries, posture disorders and periodic hypothermia, it can be combined with cervical osteochondrosis, one of the manifestations of which is pain in the right arm.
- Herniated disc in the thoracic spine.
A rather rare disease with serious consequences. The thoracic spine begins with the collar zone and ends with the lumbar lordosis. The spinal nerve fibers located in this area activate the upper limbs, the respiratory center, the anterior chest wall, affect the functioning of the liver, esophagus, reproductive and urinary systems. By pinching the nerve roots, intervertebral hernias cause severe pain, as well as dysfunction of the organs listed above. The main reason for the formation of a hernia is the wear of the disc tissues against the background of advanced osteochondrosis. Main symptoms: shooting, aching or dull pain in the chest and between the shoulder blades; tingling sensation, numbness of the extremities and muscle weakness.
This is important!
According to statistics, cervical disc herniation occurs in 8% of cases, thoracic hernia – in 1%. The permanent “leader” among diseases of the spine is protrusion in the lumbar region. The top five, along with osteochondrosis, includes arthritis, in particular, humeroscapular periarthritis – a reactive inflammatory process in the movable joint that connects the arm bone with the scapula.
In the absence of adequate treatment, in about 40% of cases, the pain syndrome becomes chronic, every fifth patient inherits severe vertebral neurological disorders.
Causes and consequences
The reasons for the development of diseases of the spine are different:
- Old age. Organs and systems age with us. Bones become more fragile, cartilage wears out.
- Genetic predisposition. Let’s just say that this is not a diagnosis. An active lifestyle, the rejection of bad habits, the right diet can delay or prevent the development of pathology.
- Spinal injuries. There are circumstances beyond our control, for example, an accident or an unfortunate fall on ice, but in most cases we endanger ourselves: we perform physical exercises without preliminary stretching, ride tubing – high-speed, dangerous and uncontrollable, jump into the lake from a springboard, without thinking that you can break your neck. Your health is in your hands!
- Posture disorders. Don’t hold back? Know that your muscles are in constant tension. Kyphosis, scoliosis, lordosis – this is not a “cosmetic problem”, but constant pain and disruption of the internal organs.
Among other factors, it is worth noting excessive physical activity, overweight, refusal to treat other chronic diseases.
Why go to the doctor?
Early diagnosis and proper treatment significantly improve the prognosis and increase your chances, if not for a complete recovery, then for slowing down the development of the pathological process, getting rid of pain, returning joint mobility and, as a result, improving the quality of life.
How to treat?
What should I do if my arm hurts?
- The first stage of treatment is aimed at removing swelling, spasms, inflammation and pain. For this purpose, the patient is prescribed painkillers, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, decongestants and muscle relaxants. High efficiency in the fight against the consequences of intervertebral hernia, osteochondrosis, neuralgia, myositis and spinal injuries was shown by therapeutic drug blockade and plasmolifting.
- Treatment of spinal diseases is not limited to drugs and injections. You can relieve pain, accelerate tissue regeneration, restore metabolic processes with the help of acupuncture, magnetotherapy on the BTL 49 device20 Smart, interstitial electrical stimulation according to Gerasimov, hardware spinal traction and kinesio taping. In most cases, the patient is prescribed a course of procedures, but relief comes after the first session.
Despite the fact that the methods of treatment listed in this article have a minimum of contraindications, consultation with a specialist is required!
You can make an appointment with an orthopedist on the website or by calling 7 (347) 216 00 22.0001
Pain in the hands: sources of the problem, symptoms, complications
Unpleasant sensations in the area from the wrist to the shoulder are commonly called “pain in the arm.” The source of what hurts the hand is an infection or injury to the bone, muscle tissue, tendon-ligamentous apparatus, arteries, veins, nerve endings. Prolonged discomfort requires a visit to the doctor to determine the causes of the pain syndrome.
Sources of discomfort
The root cause of pain in the arm is trauma, infection, degenerative, neurological pathologies:
- elbow dislocation;
- fractures, bruises, wounds;
- rupture, stretching of ligamentous-muscular tissues;
- infected wounds, osteomyelitis, septic arthritis;
- bursitis, spinal stenosis;
- compression of nerve endings;
- osteoarthritis, peripheral nephropathy, tendinitis;
- benign, malignant neoplasms;
- myocardial infarction.
The hand can hurt due to damage to the nervous tissue as a result of a blunt injury to the upper limb.
In addition to the main symptom in the form of pain in the arm, secondary manifestations may occur. Additional signs of the pathological process are presented:
- discomfort in the cervical, shoulder, back;
- burning in the upper limb;
- sleep problems;
- fever, sore throat, cough, headache;
- soreness in the articular apparatus, muscle spasm, loss of sensation;
- decreased range of motion at the elbow;
- the appearance of hematomas and inflammation on the skin;
- a sharp decrease in body weight for no apparent reason.
There are a number of symptoms that require immediate medical attention. Their appearance signals serious problems, up to a threat to the life of the patient. These include:
- deformity of the upper limb;
- change in the hue of the mucous or skin to a bluish tint – the deviation is best seen on the lips and under the nail plates;
- fainting, lack of adequate response to external stimuli;
- non-standard behavior – a state of delirium, hallucinations, falling into lethargy;
- pain syndrome in the retrosternal space with irradiation to the left side – limb, cervical, shoulder, lower jaw;
- critical body temperature – more than 38-39 degrees;
- upper limb movement problems;
- extraneous sound at the moment of hand injury;
- broken capillaries around the injury site;
- problems with the work of the respiratory center – increasing shortness of breath, extraneous whistling when inhaling, sudden cessation of breathing.