Pain in Arm
By definition, arm pain can have multiple causes. The human arm is composed of the humerus, ulna, radius bones, elbow joint, numerous muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves and blood vessels. The ulna and radius articulate the hand and humerus is attached to the shoulders through the scapulohumeral joint.
Depending on the origin of the pain in arm, an inflammatory swelling, excessive heat, or a loss of mobility can be manifested in the arm as an oppressive, pulling or stabbing pain in arm. This may be accompanied by sensory discomfort or paralysis. Pain in arm may appear suddenly as acute, after an injury, chronic or can be as in the case of osteoarthritis.
Arm Pain Causes
Arm pain is too general term and there may be several series of causes of arm pain. Thus, arm pains causes can be due to both bone and joint discomfort, muscle problems, irritations, nerve injuries and circulatory disorders.
The arm is subjected to strong demands in daily activities, when doing sport and lifting heavy things. But not only can arm pains be caused by inadequate or excessive weight loading, arm pains can also be due to after a long period of inactivity (for example, after having arm cast after a bone break).
Here is a summary of the possible causes of arm pains that cause illness, injury and arm pain:
Injuries to tendons, joints and ligaments (distension and tear)
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Epicondylitis (tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow)
- Repetitive Strain Injury
- Olecranon bursitis
- Inflammation of the synovial sac
- Muscle pulls and injuries (from pricks to muscular tears)
- Bone fracture (from the neck of the humerus or radius of the forearm)
- Irradiation of pain from the shoulder to the arm
- Ganglion (exostosis)
- Tumors (benign and malignant)
- Neurological diseases with nerve injuries
- Cutaneous diseases of the arm (psoriasis)
Arm Pain Diagnosis
In the case of arm pain, doctor gives a diagnosis after a thorough examination. You should consult your doctor and perform a treatment, especially in case of persistent and chronic arm pain, as well as sudden and very strong or serious injuries and joints inflamed, swollen and hot arm pain. The innocuous arm pains usually disappear on their own shortly for example: An excessive load of weight.
When doctor finds the cause of the arm pain, he proceeds to determine the diagnosis. The first step is a complete anamnesis in which information is collected on the exact point of pain in the arm according to possible accompanying symptoms and previous illnesses of the patient. You have to also tell your doctor, if you have loaded too much weight In the arm, work too hard with the computer keyboard or pain is the result of an injury or an accident.
After the anamnesis, the doctor will perform a physical examination of the arm and perform various tests of movement of arm. This scan helps determine if there is inflammation, if arm movement is limited or if the muscle has been shortened.
Depending on the possible cause of arm pain, you may need more diagnostic tests which will be determined. Among others, we can name the following diagnostic tests for arm pain:
- Blood tests (to determine inflammation values)
- Ultrasonography (ultrasound)
- Neurological examination (to find injuries and diseases in the nerves)
- Electrophysiological examination (electroneurogram, electromyogram [EMG], nerve conduction velocity)
- Verification of the vegetative nervous system
- Joint puncture in case of joint effusion
- Magnetic resonance tomography
Arm Pain Treatment
Treatment of arm pain is determined by the corresponding cause. For this reason, it can be very diverse. Acute arm pains are caused shortly after having taken a heavy or inadequate load on the arm and these kind of arm pains usually disappear on their own. In certain circumstances, it may be necessary to protect the arm with a dressing or plaster cast to immobilize the arm (in the case of tennis elbow).
Arm pain is treated symptomatically with anti-inflammatories (eg, acetylsalicylic acid or diclofenac) which are mainly in the form of tablets and as ointments or gels. Joint injections and infiltrations with cortisone-based preparations or local analgesics are helpful for joint pain and arm pain.
In some cases, according to the origin of the pain arm conservative therapies are not effective and surgical operation may be necessary. Also, if the cause of arm pain is strangulation syndrome, treatment is focus to heal nerves, muscles and compressed blood vessels with an operation. Currently, the doctor can operate the joint injuries through an arthroscopy.
There are other measures that also help to relieve muscle aches such as physiotherapy, cold and heat treatments, muscle training, movements and sports that stimulate joints (such as swimming), balneotherapy, electrotherapy and ultrasound therapy and other orthopedic remedies. Depending on the cause of the arm pain, corresponding therapy will be application of cold or heat and other treatment options.