What Causes Arm Pain?
Arm pain and injuries are extremely common. Arm pain can occur as a result of either sudden, traumatic or repetitive overuse. The causes can be related to sports injuries, work injuries or simply everyday arm use.
What Arm Pain is Associated with a Heart Attack?
Left-arm pain can be an early sign of a life-threatening cardiac issue. Based on this, a professional medical assessment that involves an accurate history, symptom analysis, physical examination and diagnostic tests to exclude a potential heart attack is important to exclude this potentially life-threatening source of arm pain.
For more information, please consult with your health practitioner, call an ambulance on 000, or visit a hospital emergency department to put your mind at ease.
Good News. Most Arm Pain is NOT Life-Threatening.
Luckily, life-threatening arm pain is far less likely than a local musculoskeletal injury. Arm pain caused by a localised arm muscle, tendon or joint injury should be assessed and confirmed by your health practitioner before commencing treatment.
Referred Arm Pain
As mentioned earlier, arm pain can be referred from another source. Cervical radiculopathy is a common source of referred arm pain. Cervical radiculopathy will not respond to treatment where you feel the arm pain. However, it will respond positively to treatment at the source of the injury (e.g. your neck joints).
Professional assessment from a health practitioner skilled in the diagnosis of both spinal-origin and local-origin (muscle and joint) injuries (e.g. your physiotherapist) is recommended to ensure an accurate diagnosis and prompt treatment directed at the arm pain source.
Common Causes of Arm Pain
- Shoulder pain is most commonly caused by your rotator cuff or frozen shoulder.
- Elbow pain is most commonly caused by tennis elbow or golfers elbow.
- Wrist & hand pain can be related to carpal tunnel, wrist arthritis or even a thumb tendon condition known as de Quervain's tenosynovitis.
Arm Pain has Diverse Causes
The causes of your arm pain can be very wide and varied. Due to this diversity, your arm pain should be assessed by a suitably qualified health practitioner to attain an accurate diagnosis, treatment plan and implementation specific to your arm pain.
Arm Pain Prognosis
The good news is that arm pain and injury will normally respond very favourably to medical or physiotherapy intervention when early professional assessment and treatment is sought. Please do not delay in consulting your healthcare practitioner if you experience arm pain.
Causes of Arm Pain by Region
Causes of Arm Pain by Structure
Neck-related Arm Pain
Shoulder-related Arm Pain
- AC Joint Injury
- Biceps Tendinopathy
- Broken Shoulder - Fractured Humerus
- Bursitis Shoulder
- Dislocated Shoulder
- Frozen Shoulder
- Rotator Cuff Calcific Tendinopathy
- Rotator Cuff Syndrome
- Rotator Cuff Tear
- Shoulder Arthritis
- Shoulder Impingement
- Shoulder Tendonitis
- Swimmer's Shoulder
Elbow-related Arm Pain
Wrist-related Arm Pain
Hand-related Arm Pain
Muscle-related Arm Pain
- DOMS - Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness
- Muscle Strain (Muscle Pain)
- RSI - Repetitive Strain Injury
- Overuse Injuries
Other Sources of Arm Pain
Common Arm Pain Treatments
With accurate assessment and early treatment, most arm injuries respond extremely quickly to physiotherapy or medical care allowing you to quickly resume pain-free and normal activities of daily living.
Please ask your physiotherapist for their professional treatment advice.