elbow pain

Arm Pain


Healthgrades Editorial Staff

What is arm pain?

Arm pain is any type of pain or discomfort in the arm, which is considered the area from the shoulder joint to the wrist joint. Your arms are made up of bones, joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves and blood vessels, all of which are subject to injury, infection, or other conditions that can be painful.

Arm pain may last briefly or be constant, and it may affect your entire arm or only a particular area. Your pain may feel achy, piercing or tingly. Pain-like sensations, often described as pins and needles, prickling, or burning are called paresthesia. Arm pain may be simply irritating and uncomfortable, or it can be so debilitating that you cannot move your arm.

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Arm pain can arise from a variety of conditions ranging from accidental trauma to nerve conditions. Arm pain can also originate in another part of the body such as the neck. This type of pain is called referred arm pain.

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Referred arm pain can be due to a heart attack. Pain radiating to the left arm is a hallmark symptom of a heart attack and may occur with the feeling of pressure or squeezing pain in the center of the chest, nausea, vomiting, sweating, irregular heart rate, and difficulty breathing. Seek emergency medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have pain in your left arm along with any of these other symptoms.

If you do not have these symptoms, but your arm pain is persistent, recurrent, or causes you concern, seek prompt medical care.

Medical Reviewers: Cynthia Haines, MD Last Review Date: Jul 29, 2013

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Medical References

  1. Hand/Wrist/Arm Problems. American Academy of Family Physicians.
  2. Cervical Radiculopathy (Pinched Nerve). American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

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