Updated: Jul 15
Many people have the experience of waking up one morning and having the thought, 'What's wrong with my arm?' What you feel may be minor, but if you don't recognize what it is, it might be a sign of something major. That's why it's important to see a New Jersey pain management specialist immediately.
Your arm is an important limb. You use it to wield tools, throw balls, engage in self-defense, scratch your back, and at the very least, you use it for waving hi to people. Yet, the pain your arm is causing you was only bearable for so long before it finally forced you to stop what you were doing. (Or, maybe you didn't actually stop for as long as you should've.)
Arm pain can be caused by a variety of issues. Some arm pain can be serious, but most are not life-threatening and only need time and treatment to heal. In this article, you'll learn what the most common reasons are for aches or pains in your arms.
In some cases, your arm may be experiencing inflammation because of arthritis or a previous injury. In this case, you may have tenderness or swelling in your arm. The pain is usually worse when you use your arm or move it in an awkward way. You might also feel pain when you raise or lower your arm above your head or stretch out your fingers and thumb.
The most common type of arthritis that causes arm pain is osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage between the bones wears down over time, which can lead to stiffness, tenderness, and pain when moving your arm. This condition can also cause tingling sensations and numbness in your fingers and hands.
2. Sprain or Strain
Sprains and strains are common injuries that happen when your body forcefully twists or pulls in one direction, causing damage to ligaments and/or muscles. This injury occurs when one or more of your muscles becomes stretched or torn when playing sports and physical activity.
Sprains and strains can happen anywhere in your body, but they're most common in the shoulders, elbows, wrists, and hands. It's also something that can happen to anyone, regardless of age or fitness level.
A sprain is a partial tear in the ligaments that support your joints. If you've recently injured yourself, your body will be trying to heal itself by using collagen and other proteins to help mend the damaged tissue. The healing process can cause swelling and pain, which is why it's important for you to address any symptoms as soon as possible.
Some people with sprains may feel some swelling and bruise for up to 24 hours after the injury. If this happens to you, be sure to report the injury to your doctor immediately so that they can take care of any problems before they become worse. Also, see a pain specialist immediately if you have pain in these areas during activity or anytime after the initial injury.
Here are some common signs and symptoms of a sprain or strain:
• Severe pain that may feel like "popped" ligaments (the tissue that connects bones together). Stretching or pulling on the injured area may make the pain worse.
• Tenderness to touch overlying the injured area.
• Swelling and bruising that doesn't spread beyond the injured area (except for an obvious blow to the area).
• Limited range of motion in the affected limb (especially if there's discoloration around joints in addition to swelling).
3. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a condition that causes numbness, pain, and tingling in the thumb, index finger, and middle finger. It's caused by compression of the median nerve that passes through the carpal tunnel — a narrow passageway on the palm side of your wrist.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can be caused by repetitive motion, such as typing, playing a musical instrument, or working at a computer for long periods of time. It's also more common in people with diabetes because their body tissue becomes swollen and inflamed.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a painful condition that occurs when the median nerve in your wrist becomes compressed and is unable to carry signals from your hand to your brain. The carpal tunnel is an opening in the wrist through which nine tendons, eight flexor muscles, and the median nerve pass into the hand. The median nerve provides sensation to the thumb and first three fingers, while the tendons provide movement.
Carpal tunnel syndrome often comes on gradually with no obvious cause. It can also occur after repetitive use of hands or arms, such as typing or playing video games, for extended periods of time. Other risk factors include pregnancy, hypothyroidism, and rheumatoid arthritis.
If you have these symptoms, talk with a pain specialist as soon as possible because early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent them from worsening. The most common symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome are:
• numbness or tingling in one or more fingers of your hand
• weakness in one or more fingers
• difficulty gripping objects
• pain when bending your wrist back into extension (bending back toward your elbow)
Bursitis is an inflammation of the bursa, which are small fluid-filled sacs between bones and muscles. Bursitis most commonly affects the elbow, hip, and knee, but it can also occur in other joints, such as the shoulder and ankle.
The bursae act as shock absorbers between bones and muscles. They help lubricate joints and prevent friction between tendons and bones. When a joint becomes inflamed, these bursae become swollen and tender to the touch. This causes pain, swelling, and stiffness in the affected area.
Bursitis can develop for many reasons, including repeated strain on your joints or overuse of your muscles. It's more likely to occur in older people because as we age, our joints become less flexible, causing them to rub and grind together during movement.
Bursitis can be caused by repetitive motions or direct trauma to the joint — such as hitting your elbow on a doorframe or falling on your hip — which irritates the bursae inside that joint. Inflammation may also be caused by an injury that damages blood vessels or nerves around a joint, leading to less blood flow to the bursae within that joint.
A bone fracture occurs when there is enough force put on a bone to break it. This can happen when you fall down, for example, or if you run into something. Bone fractures can also result from minor trauma such as a car accident or even from playing sports like football or basketball.
A bone fracture can cause bone fragments to break off and move around inside the bone. This is called a fragment fracture, and it's often associated with arm pain. When you have a bone fracture, it's likely that there will be some swelling and bruising around the area where the break occurred.
Your doctor will examine your arm and be able to tell whether or not there has been a complete fracture of the bone or whether there is only partial damage to the tissue surrounding it. Minor bone fractures may be repaired with non-surgical treatment.
Tendons are tough bands of tissue that connect muscle to bone. Tendonitis is an inflammation of the tendons caused by overuse or repetitive motion that can cause pain and weakness in the arms or hands. It occurs when there is too much stress placed on a tendon and causes tiny tears in the tissue. This prevents the tendon from functioning properly.
Tendons are frequently injured during sports activities, especially those that involve repetitive movements or heavy liftings, such as tennis and golf. They can also be injured by overuse, such as running or playing basketball.
Tendonitis usually occurs in younger people who participate in sports, but it can also occur in older adults who have been doing the same activity for many years. Tendonitis may also occur if you do not warm up before exercising or if you stretch improperly before exercising.
The pain associated with tendonitis usually begins gradually but can become intense enough to interfere with your daily activities and work performance or even keep you from participating in recreational activities.
If you've dislocated your elbow, the bone has slipped out of its joint socket. This can happen if you fall onto an outstretched hand or if someone falls onto your arm or elbow. A dislocated elbow can also happen if you hit your arm against something hard enough to knock it out of place.
The most common site for this injury is at the outside (lateral) part of the elbow joint, where there's less protection for the bony surfaces that make up the joint than there is in other parts of the elbow, such as near the front (medial) side of your joint where there's more muscle tissue to cushion blows while playing sports or working around machinery at work.
When a joint moves out of place from its normal position, it's called a dislocation. Dislocations occur when there's too much stress on one side of the joint — such as from an awkward sleeping position — causing it to move out of place violently enough to displace it temporarily until it's back into its proper alignment.
One of the treatment options for dislocated joints is chiropractic care. Treatment of this injury involves getting the joints back into the correct socket. Then, inflammation from the injury must be treated to help reduce pain in your arm and improve the range of motion so that your arm is functional again.
Seek Treatment from a Health Professional
The first step in figuring out what is wrong with your arm is knowing what type of pain it is and where it is coming from. This can be tricky because pain can be a symptom of a wide range of injuries or conditions. It is important to know exactly what you did to cause it in the first place and to understand what other symptoms you might have.
You should definitely see a health professional if you have any of these symptoms:
• Your arm is swollen or tender to the touch. It could be a sign of infection or inflammation
• You can't move your arm normally
• Pain and swelling in one joint often mean there's an injury to the joint above or below it — like an elbow problem that makes it hard to lift your hand over your head because of pain in your shoulder
• Your pain radiates down into your fingers or hand. This can be a sign of nerve damage (which isn't always permanent)
• You have numbness in one or more fingers on that side of your body — especially if they're cold or tingly instead of just painful. This is another warning sign that something might be wrong with the nerves in that area
We hope this article helps you pinpoint the root cause of your arm pain so that you can better understand the several factors that can contribute to this pain. And by being informed about your options for treatment, you can ensure that you do not waste any valuable time or exacerbate your injury by pushing yourself too hard.
If you experience arm pain that lasts longer than two weeks, it's better to consult a New Jersey pain management specialist to determine the cause and find out whether there's a serious underlying condition that could be causing your discomfort. This will ensure any issues can be addressed as soon as they arise, providing appropriate treatment, thus maximizing your recovery time.