Most people, at one time or another, have felt some kind of arm pain. According to Healthline, arm pain can be unilateral (one arm) or bilateral. Bilateral arm pain afflicts both arms and can be debilitating. According to Free MD, arm pain can be "caused by injury, irritation or inflammation of the skin, muscles, bones or joints in the arm."
Symptoms and Causes
Symptoms connected with arm pain include pain that is exacerbated by movement and muscle stiffness. Other more serious symptoms, according to Free MD, include redness, swelling and tenderness. Additional symptoms are excessive sweating, breathing difficulty, nausea, chest pain and jaw pain.
Most causes of arm pain are due to injury or disease. Some of those causes include angina, tendinitis, bug bites, burns, carpal tunnel syndrome, fracture, gout, heart attack, osteomyelitis, sprains, strains, arthritis (i.e. rheumatoid arthritis), whiplash, hand pain, wrist pain, wrist injury, arm parestheesias (arm tingling, prickling, numbness or burning sensation), tennis elbow, among many others.
Certain injuries to the arm can cause arm pain, including a car accident, sprains, strains, shoulder dislocation, tendinitis, broken arm, broken collarbone, elbow dislocation, shoulder separation, rotator cuff injury, broken elbow, or even a broken shoulder blade.
Just like certain injuries can cause arm pain, so can certain diseases. For example, a heart attack, fibromyalgia, peripheral neuropathy, peripheral vascular disease (diseases of the blood vessels located outside the heart and brain), vasculitis (inflammation of the blood vessels), rheumatoid arthritis and bursitis (inflammation of the bursae).
Tendinitis is an inflammation of the tendons -- the tough fibrous tissues that attach muscles to bone. Symptoms include pain in the afflicted area, which is exacerbated with repetitive motions. There may also be swelling present. Causes of tendinitis include overuse and repetitive motions from recreational activities or from sports participation. Treatment can include rest, immobilising the affected area, ice, elevation and over-the-counter medications (i.e., Advil or Aleve).
According to Medicine Net, fibromyalgia is "a chronic condition causing pain, stiffness and tenderness of the muscles, tendons and joints." Other symptoms include restless sleep, feeling tired after awakening, fatigue, anxiety, depression and bowel movement difficulties. According to Medicine Net, while there is no cause for fibromyalgia, doctors have found that there is an elevated level of "substance P," which is a nerve growth factor in the spinal fluid. Additionally, there is also a decreased level of serotonin in the body. Medicine Net reports that a combination of treatments have proven helpful, including patient education, stress reduction, regular exercise and medications.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, peripheral neuropathy "describes damage to the peripheral nervous system, which transmits information from the brain and spinal cord to every other part of the body." Symptoms include temporary numbness, tingling and pricking sensations, sensitivity to touch or muscle weakness. Other symptoms include burning pain, muscle wasting, paralysis or organ or gland dysfunction. Causes include diabetes, shingles, vitamin deficiencies, alcohol use, autoimmune diseases (i.e., lupus, rheumatoid arthritis), AIDS, exposure to toxins and certain cancer therapy drugs.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is "an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation of the joints" and can also cause "inflammation of the tissue around the joints, as well as in other organs in the body," according to Medicine Net. Symptoms can include fatigue, loss of energy, lack of appetite, fever, muscle and joint aches and stiffness. When RA acts up, the joints can become red, swollen, painful and tender. Treatment includes reducing joint inflammation and pain, increasing joint function and preventing joint destruction and deformity, according to Medicine Net.
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