Arm pain refers to any type of pain or discomfort that occurs between the shoulder and wrist. The arms consist of bones, joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves and blood vessels.
All of these structures can suffer injuries, infections, or other illnesses that may cause pain.
Arm pain can occur constantly or irregularly, affecting the entire arm or only a specific region.
The pain may be pulling, stabbing, or like a tingling sensation.
Pain sensations, such as running ants, tingling or burning sensations are called paresthesia.
Arm pain can simply be perceived as unpleasant and disturbing, or it can be so debilitating that the arm can no longer be raised.
There are many possible causes of arm pain, from traumatic injuries to nerve damage.
The symptoms can also arise in another part of the body, for example in the neck area; in this case, one speaks of transferred pain.
Even with a heart attack, pain in the arm can be felt.
Pain radiating to the left arm is a characteristic symptom of a heart attack; they may occur along with a feeling of chest tightness, nausea, vomiting, sweating, pulse irregularities and shortness of breath.
1. Heart attack
A heart attack (myocardial infarction) occurs when the heart muscles are insufficiently supplied with oxygen due to circulatory disorders. The result is the death of heart muscle cells.
The heart attack can be caused by a blood clot in one of the coronary arteries (coronary vessels) or a spasm (narrowing) of these vessels. A heart attack can occur during intense exercise or during a period of rest; emotions can also be a trigger.
Symptoms of a heart attack include: chest pain that can radiate to the left arm, shoulder blade, lower jaw and neck.
Typical for chest pain is a strong feeling of pressure behind the sternum.
In addition, sweating, dizziness, nausea and vomiting may occur. In some cases, these symptoms are absent, one speaks here of a silent infarction; I have met mainly diabetics who have not felt any symptoms.
A heart attack must be treated immediately because it can be fatal. The
Therapy includes taking special medications to dissolve blood clots and improve cardiac functions. Sometimes surgery is necessary to dilate the narrowed or blocked blood vessels of the heart (angioplasty) or to lay a bypass, i.e. the blocked vascular section is bypassed.
2. Angina pectoris Angina pectoris is a symptom caused by the coronary arteries.
It is often referred to as tightness or pressure pain in the chest.
The pain occurs in the chest area, but can radiate to the abdomen (which is often confused with an upset stomach), shoulders and left shoulder blade, left arm, neck and lower jaw.
Treatment of angina provides for a combination of drugs (nitrates, beta-blockers, ranolazine and calcium antagonists) and a change in lifestyle habits to improve blood flow to the heart.
Lifestyle improvements include a healthy diet, regular physical activity, less stress, quitting smoking.
In some cases, angioplasty or bypass surgery is necessary.
3. Stress or panic attack Excessive stress can trigger a panic attack whose symptoms are similar to those of a heart attack
. Symptoms include: sweating, tachycardia, chest tightness and pain in the left arm.
The therapy for panic attacks and extreme stress provides the following measures to cope with stress:
- avoidance of unnecessary stress,
- healthy lifestyle,
- regular sports activities, no competitive sports.
Women whose breasts/breasts have been removed for breast cancer usually feel pain in their arms after the procedure.
The arm movement is limited by the scar adhesions and by the stiffness to ward off pain.
Pain in the arm and hand
Injuries to the brachial plexus
If the arm nerve plexus (brachial plexus) is directly affected in a sports injury or a minor accident, the arm is temporarily incapable of use and hurts.
The brachial plexus is a nerve plexus that connects the spinal cord to the arm; damage to this nerve plexus leads to signs and symptoms similar to those of paralysis.
Other familiar appearances include an “electrifying” feeling, pain, and inability to move the affected arm.
Bottleneck syndrome of the upper thoracic aperture It is caused by the compression of the arteries in the space between the first rib and shoulder (upper thoracic aperture
). Signs and symptoms include pain in the arm, tingling and color change of the hand.
Here the nerves of the arm are damaged, as a result pain occurs in the affected region.
Peripheral neuropathies are caused by: diabetes, a buildup of toxins in the body, infections, trauma or metabolic disorders. Other symptoms include numbness and pain in the affected limbs.
Poor circulation often causes pain in the left arm. The left arm is affected more often than the right because of the direction of flow of blood in the body, but in circulatory problems the entire body is affected. If fingers or limbs fall asleep frequently or are cold, this is a sign that blood circulation is not optimal. This can also manifest itself as dull pain or pressure in the extremities, especially if you remain in the same position for a long time.
Causes of pain in the arm and neck
It can happen that the spinal cord nerves become pinched due to wear and tear on joints and bones of the spine, this is especially the case in the elderly. This can cause pain that radiates from the neck to the arm (cervicobrachialgia), sometimes a tingling sensation is noticeable.
This form of wear and tear is called spinal stenosis or cervical spondylosis.
Arm pain caused by cervical arthrosis varies greatly from person to person; it is quite normal that there are good days and bad days.
In most cases, the symptoms can be relieved with exercise exercises and over-the-counter, anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen or paracetamol). Read more about the treatment of cervical spondylosis.
The treatment is manual and is intended to disable the trigger point.
Muscle tear or strain
If the pain occurs as a result of sporting or occupational stress, it is probably only a muscle strain.
This means that the tissue structures of the arm are excessively stretched, but not permanently damaged.
The arm should be spared; painkillers and ice packs are also used.
If the pain persists for more than two days, a doctor should be contacted; An ultrasound scan indicates the condition of the muscle. If there is a muscle injury, a physiotherapist can helpfully support the absorption of the bruise and closure of the muscle tear.
In an accident, a bone fracture or a bruise of the arm can occur.
In connection with a broken or dislocated bone, pain and bleeding are an absolute priority that requires an immediate visit to the doctor.
Excessive strain on the shoulder can cause inflammation and many micro-injuries of the tendon that connects muscles and bones.
This causes pain from the shoulder to the arm and – in rare cases – swelling.
Tendinitis in the arm is triggered by heavy physical work, sports such as swimming, tennis and volleyball.
If you work a lot with the PC mouse and take a bad posture, numbness can occur on the wrist, elbows and arm.
Tendinitis of the long biceps tendon is felt on the front of the arm, while tendinitis of the supraspinatus tendon is felt on the outside.
The best therapy is protection and physiotherapy; in this way, the inflammation can subside and heal the micro-injuries of the tendons.
Cortisone infiltrations are not useful in this case because they can weaken the tendon and promote lesions.
Heavy work and bodybuilding can lead to tension of the arm muscles, especially the upper arm biceps.
If too many exercise sessions are performed, this can lead to an accumulation of lactic acid, which disappears on its own over the course of two days.
The pain occurs only with movement and muscle stretching.
The treatment consists of gentle and light movements, but if the pain lasts longer than a week, massage therapy is necessary.
Some medications can reduce blood circulation, which can cause pain in the left arm over time.
If a new medication is taken and some of the above side effects occur, the package leaflet should be studied thoroughly.
It is possible that a side effect of the drug is responsible for the pain in the arm.
This should be discussed with the doctor.
Intense stress can cause unpleasant arm pain.
Excessive use of the arm or heavy physical activity, such as straining weights at the gym or exercising for two or more days in a row, can be the cause of arm pain.
With intense or very severe pain, the muscles or joints in the arm may be injured. It makes sense to consider what activities have been carried out recently in order to fathom the main cause of the pain.
Poor posture Poor posture
or awkward sleeping position can cause pain in the left arm over time. If the left arm falls asleep frequently and a tingling sensation is felt, a nerve may be pressed or compressed.
If you take an uncomfortable position for a long time or use one side of the body significantly more than the other, these complaints can occur.
A vaccination given into the arm can cause movement and pressure pain.
These disappear on their own after 1 to 2 days; massaging the affected area accelerates healing.
Pain in the left arm is sometimes very unpleasant.
Here are some measures that can remedy this.
Home remedies If the arm pain is caused by excessive use, they are easily treated with home remedies
. For this purpose, all activities that strain the left arm should be avoided. To promote swelling, apply cold packs or pressure bandages to the painful area and raise the arm.If the pain in the arm is accompanied by severe redness or swelling, the pain persists for a few days without signs of improvement, bleeding or sudden pain occurs, a visit to the doctor is important. If, at the moment of injury, a tearing or other noise has occurred, or there is difficulty in moving the arm, it is necessary to consult a doctor as soon as possible.
anxiety can have adverse effects, including the sensation of pain that is not present because it arises in the head.
One should ask oneself whether the pain started or intensified after reading an article about infarct pain.
Many people notice that the pain has occurred more frequently after learning that heart attacks cause the pain to radiate to the left arm and chest.
In severe stressful situations, such as major financial difficulties or family problems, the pain can also be felt in both arms.
The confirmation of this cause of pain is given when the symptoms disappear by taking antidepressants.
Treatment of psychosomatic arm pain
Those who suffer from psychosomatic arm pain do not need to worry much.
Anxiety cannot cause long-term damage to the arm; when the psychological situation is balanced again, the pain disappears on its own. The three treatment measures include:
- Movement and massage of the arm.
- Distract from pain by relaxing, for example during yoga.
- Take painkillers.
These are short-term measures, you have to reduce the seriousness of the arm pain and improve the quality of life.
A way must be found to cure the anxiety.
Pain in the armpit
Pain in the armpit can be provoked by swelling of the lymph nodes or by nerves and muscles running there.
An intercostal neuralgia in the upper back can pull forward to the chest and pass through the armpit.
The lymph nodes can cause pain in the case of a tumor, but they are also often swollen and painful because of an infection; here the cause should first be investigated before unnecessary concern arises.
Natural home remedies for arm pain
- Rest. When the affected area is immobilized, the body can repair the damage that causes pain in the arm.
- Cold. Ice packs are helpful in relieving the swelling causing the discomfort. For optimal effect, the ice pack should be placed on at least three times a day for 10 to 20 minutes. After 72 hours, treat alternately with cold and heat and perform gentle gymnastic exercises to promote flexibility.
- Compression. A bandage on the aching arm can relieve the swelling.
Kinesio taping is ideal for this because it does not have the disadvantages of a bandage that is too tightly bound.
- High level. The elevation of the painful limb can promote swelling. The best effect can be achieved if the arm is placed lying above the heart.
- Massage. A massage of the aching arm stimulates blood circulation and usually relieves pain. Stop the massage if it is perceived as painful.
- Smoke stop. Smoking reduces the blood supply throughout the body and thus slows down the healing process. Until the arm is completely healed, smoking should be avoided.
- Take off watches and jewelry. If the arm is injured, wearing watches and jewelry can become dangerous; once the arm swells, losing weight can cause problems and they can hinder blood circulation in other areas of the body.