What is Arm Pain?

What is Arm Pain?


Arm pain is a common complaint with numerous potential causes. While injury most commonly causes it, other conditions and abnormalities can result in a sensation of pain in the arm. Also, diseases that affect other parts of the body can result in arm pain. While many cases are mild annoyances that are not a significant cause for concern, other examples may be signs of diseases or occurrences that can be potentially life-threatening.

What Causes Arm Pain?

The most common causes of pain in the arm are injuries caused by falls or other accidents. These incidents are especially prevalent in active children and adults who participate in sports and older individuals with weakened bones. These injuries may affect the bones, muscles, nerves, skin, and other tissues. Common injuries include sprains, strains, fractures, tennis elbow, and rotator cuff injuries. Back injuries like herniated disks and some types of spinal cord injuries may also result in pain that is felt in the arm. Minor injuries may heal on their own, but fractures or severe injuries to other tissue typically require medical attention to ensure proper healing. Injuries to the nerves in the neck and shoulder can also cause severe pain that requires medical treatment.

In addition to injuries, arm pain may also be caused by conditions like tendinitis, thoracic outlet syndrome, bursitis, or even cancer. One of the most common medical conditions of pain in the arm is arthritis. Some circumstances may arise as the result of repeated injuries or stress while others develop on their own. Sudden pain that occurs in the left arm is a universal sign of a heart attack and should be treated as a medical emergency.

How is Arm Pain Diagnosed?

Arm pain is usually diagnosed through a physical examination and diagnostic imaging tests. Even when doctors suspect minor sprains or strains, radiological tests are often performed to rule out more serious injuries. Other analyses may include MRI's or CT scans that allow doctors to see the arm's interior structure better. When pain is the result of injuries or conditions affecting other parts of the body, additional testing is often necessary.

How To Manage Arm Pain

In minor cases, arm pain can usually be managed with over-the-counter medications for pain and inflammation. Applying heat or cold may also help. Fractures typically need to be set, and surgery may be necessary. Other conditions may be treated and managed through prescription medication, surgical procedures, or physical therapy.

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