Arm Pain Relief
Do you suffer from arm pain? Arm pain may develop from abnormalities or injury to the bones, skin, nerves, joints, or blood vessels. Natural wear and tear, overuse, trauma, or underlying conditions can also cause arm pain. Any part of the arm may be affected, including the lower arm, upper arm, joints, or shoulder. You may experience pain for short-term or long-term, depending on the cause and severity. Arm pain may be described as mild to severe, and can occur in one or both arms. Depending upon the cause of your arm pain, you may experience discomfort while you are active or while you are at rest.
Be aware that the cause of arm pain can be life-threatening if it is associated with the pain of a heart attack. Heart attack pain can radiate into the arm or jaw. Seek medical help immediately if you suspect you may be having a heart attack.
If you feel acute or chronic pain in one or both arms, there are things you can do to help reduce your discomfort. If you have severe or long-lasting arm pain, it can have a negative impact on your quality of life.
Often, arm pain is caused by inflammation (swelling) of tissues. Swelling may be a symptom of disease or injury. Arm pain can be caused by a number of conditions or injuries. The first step in treating arm pain is to get an accurate diagnosis of the cause of your symptoms. Based on your diagnosis, you and your doctor or pain specialist can determine your best treatment options.
At The Pain Center, we can help diagnose the cause of your arm pain. We offer a range of therapies to treat your pain symptoms. Our goal is to get you back to your normal activities. Contact us to set up an appointment with one of our pain specialists.
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
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.
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.