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What is Arm Pain?

Arm pain is a condition characterized by pain, stiffness, or discomfort in any part of the arm. This can affect the hand, wrist, elbow, or shoulder and can have many causes.

Causes of Arm Pain

Causes of arm pain may be due to the following conditions:

  • Muscle Injury
  • Shoulder dislocation
  • Neuralgia
  • Tendinitis
  • Infection
  • Diabetic neuropathy
  • Trauma
  • Pinched nerves
  • Rotator cuff injury
  • Angina (often manifested as left arm pain)
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Bursitis
  • Tennis elbow

Symptoms that accompany Arm Pain

Symptoms that accompany arm pain vary, and include the following:

  • Numbness
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Joint stiffness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Muscle weakness
  • Skin discoloration
  • Limited range of movement

Diagnosis of Arm Pain

Your doctor will review your medical history and symptoms and perform a physical examination as necessary. The following diagnostic tests may be ordered:

  • Blood tests: Blood tests are performed to look for certain substances in the blood that can indicate infection or disease.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Scan: This is an imaging study that uses a large magnetic field and radio waves to detect any damage to soft tissue structures.
  • Ultrasound: This test produces images of the soft tissues and joints in the arm using high-frequency sound waves.
  • Computed Tomography (CT) Scan: This scan uses multiple x-rays to produce detailed cross-sectional images of the blood vessels in the arm.
  • Electromyography: This method involves the use of small electrodes inserted into the muscles to record electrical activity.
  • Nerve conduction studies: These tests determine how well the nerves conduct electrical impulses and can assess nerve damage.

Treatment for Arm Pain

Treatment for arm pain varies, based on its root cause and severity, and includes the following:

  • RICE Method: This is an acronym that stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. It helps to reduce pain and inflammation in the affected arm.
  • Medications: Your doctor may recommend over-the-counter medications or prescription medications to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Physical therapy: Your doctor may recommend physical therapy to strengthen muscles and relieve joint stiffness to restore functional ability and movement.
  • Spinal Cord Stimulator: This device sends electrical impulses to certain areas of the spinal cord in order to interrupt the transmission of pain signals to the brain. It is especially effective in cases of nerve injury.
  • Surgery: In severe cases, your doctor will recommend surgery to treat damaged bones and torn muscles.

Prevention of Arm Pain

Preventive measures for arm pain include:

  • Performing warm-up and stretching before any exercise to avoid muscle injury
  • Staying hydrated
  • Maintaining proper posture
  • Avoiding lifting heavyweights
  • Wearing protective devices while playing sports

Other Arm Topics

  • American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons
  • AOSSM-American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
  • Midwestern University