Upper Arm Pain

Facts about Upper Arm Pain

Whenever people experience upper arm pain, they immediately start thinking “Am I having a heart attack?” That’s because most people have heard in the news and on TV shows how pain that begins high up on the arm and travels down the arm can be one of the signs of a heart attack. Indeed it can be--pain that runs down the left arm especially, but sometimes it affects the right arm as well.



But a heart attack is far from one of the most common instances of upper arm pain. Not only that, it would be extremely rare for upper arm pain to be the only symptom of a heart attack. Chances are you are also going to be sweating, feeling nauseas, and starting to develop chest pain at the same time.

The chances of having a malignant tumor in your upper arm causing pain is also a rare occurrence.  But, everyone worries that they are either going to get cancer or have a heart attack, so those are the concerns that begin almost immediately with almost any kind of pain in any location. Upper arm pain is more apt to have a much less dramatic and serious cause. That’s not to say that arm pain is not serious. Anyone who has experienced a rotator cuff tear or torn a muscle is still not going to be a happy camper.

The most likely cause of upper arm pain is going to be an injury. Because of all the muscles in the upper arm, it is rare to have a broken bone in that area. However, at the top of the list are muscle, ligament, and tendon tears. A rotator cuff tear will cause pain not only in the shoulder but in the upper arm as well. You can injure, especially tear, your biceps or triceps tendon.

These are very common causes of upper arm pain, as is the most general definition of all, tendonitis. Be extremely suspicious when the doctor says you have “a touch of tendonitis,“ and suggests a few physical therapy treatments. Tendonitis is such an unspecific diagnosis that you could be feeling great after a couple of trips to physical therapy and ultrasound treatments. Or, you can be one of those people who spend a year in physical therapy in immense pain. Always ask your doctor to do tests to see if you have a tear if he or she doesn’t order them right away.

If you have diabetes, the most likely cause is going to be neuropathy which causes nerve pain in extremities, such as the arms and legs. This can sometimes be successfully treated with a prescription for a nerve drug, such as gabapentin. A compressed nerve can also cause upper arm pain, as is the case with people who spend long hours at the computer and find themselves having carpal tunnel syndrome. Luckily, this can be easily surgically repaired. Overuse injuries are common in the upper arm, and can come from sports, such as tennis and racquetball.

The chances are most likely that cause of upper arm pain is going to come down to an injury of the biceps or triceps tendon. If you do any weightlifting, this is going to be even more probable. It can also happen if your arm is forcefully thrown up into the air. An example of this might be a young horse who gets excited and rears up while you are petting him, throwing the arm upward with great force on contact. It can also happen anytime you extend your biceps or triceps tendons and then strain to lift something. Triceps are often torn by bodybuilders who fail to warm up before starting their workouts.

If you do have upper arm pain, get it checked out by your doctor. If it is from an acute injury such as an auto accident or falling down, get yourself to a hospital emergency room ASAP. The sooner it gets treated, the sooner you will be pain free.