The 7 reasons for arm pain

There are many reasons why your arms can hurt.

Often it’s nothing to worry about too much, but sometimes it’s a warning sign that medical attention is needed immediately.

There are all sorts of reasons why you might have arm pain - some of which require help


There are all sorts of reasons why you might have arm pain – some of which require helpPhoto credit: Getty

dr Sarah Jarvis, Family Physician and Clinical Director of patient accessHe told the Sun Online: “There are numerous causes of arm pain.

“Sometimes it’s because of nerve problems – a pinched nerve in the neck or pressure on one of the nerves in the arm.

“Sometimes it’s due to inflammation of the tough tendon sheath that connects muscles to bones – for example on the elbow in what is known as tennis or golfer’s elbow.

“Muscle strains and sprains are also a common cause.”

Here are seven common reasons you might have arm pain…

angina/heart attack

angina is less severe than a heart attack but has similar symptoms.

It is chest pain caused by decreased blood flow to the heart muscles. It’s not usually life-threatening, but it’s a warning sign that you could be at risk of a heart attack or stroke.

A heart attack is a serious medical emergency in which the blood supply to the heart is suddenly blocked, usually by a blood clot.

If you think you’re going to have a heart attack, you need to get to the hospital for treatment as soon as possible.

dr Jarvis said: “Arm pain alone as a symptom of a heart attack is much less common.

“Angina or a heart attack often results in a central, aching chest pain (which can go to the jaw, neck, or arm, most commonly the left arm).

“Other symptoms include dizziness, shortness of breath and nausea.

“Sometimes sudden, persistent left arm pain that occurs for no apparent reason can be a symptom of a heart attack, even in the absence of other symptoms.”

muscle sprain

Sprains and strains are common injuries to muscles and ligaments.

If you can’t use your arm normally, or you have pain, tenderness, or weakness around your wrist or thumb, you likely have a sprain.

Other telltale signs include cramps or spasms, when your muscles tighten painfully on their own.

Most can be treated at home without visiting a GP, but if it doesn’t improve within a few weeks, get checked out.


tendinitis is when a tendon swells (becomes inflamed) after a tendon injury.

It can cause joint pain and stiffness and is commonly felt in the arm, often with certain sports.

You can treat minor tendon injuries yourself and should feel better within two to three weeks.

dr Jarvis added, “Tennis and golfer’s elbow are almost always made worse with certain movements and get better with rest.

“You’re likely to feel tenderness and sometimes swelling at the site of pain. The same goes for muscle strains.”


If you think you’ve broken a bone in your arm, you need medical help right away.

Potential breaks need to be treated as soon as possible – and it’s not always clear if it’s a break or a strain, so it’s best to have it checked by an expert.

You need to go to A&E if:

  • the affected arm or wrist is numb, tingles, or has tingling sensations
  • You have a bad cut that’s bleeding profusely
  • A bone sticks out of your skin
  • Your arm or wrist has changed shape or is at an unusual angle

Try keeping it in a sling, remove jewelry, take acetaminophen for pain, use an ice pack for swelling. Don’t try to use the arm.

Rotator cuff injury

The rotator cuff are the muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder.

Injuries are common here and often improve with rest and therapy.

Symptoms include arm pain when the limb is away from the body or overhead, you could have more pain and weakness in the shoulder at night.

Most cases get better on their own, but some require surgery.

disc prolapse

A disc prolapse is when a soft pad of tissue pushes outward between the bones in your spine.

It is painful when it presses on nerves but usually gets better slowly with rest, gentle exercise, and pain medication.

It can cause Numbness or tingling in your shoulders, back, arms, hands, legs or feetand also neck pain.

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