The other day, I happened to walk into a medical documentary. Unfortunately, I only caught the last minutes before it ended. The episode was focusing on different forms of pain that can be felt on either arm. What intrigued me was that pain in one arm can be referred from other organs in the upper body. For example, pain in right arm can be a symptom of heart attack. Id thought of looking at conditions that can affect either arm and came up with the following.
Heart attack is one of the serious health conditions that can affect the arms. The onset of heart attack can present itself as numbness in left arm and left side of the thoracic cavity. The numbness then transforms into a sharp pain which can be felt in the left shoulder and jaw. Heart attack usually occurs when the heart isn’t receiving enough blood to allow it to function normally.
Pain and numbness can also be caused by problems of the nervous system. Compressed and damaged nerve endings can be a source of pain at the particular area of compression. There are other instances where the pain can be the result of nerve damage not within the arm but in a different part of the body such as the liver.
Poor supply of blood to the arms will also cause numbness and tingling. Compression of blood vessels limits the amount of oxygen supplied to tissues in the arms. As such, the patient will experience numbness and pain in the affected arm.
Stroke although affecting the brain can cause numbness and pain in the arms. Stroke deprives the brain of oxygen. This can negatively affect the relay of signals between the brain and the arms. As a result, a sensation of numbness and at times pain in the affected arm occurs.
Crutch palsy is a condition that affects the radial nerve. This nerve passes under the underarm and is responsible for relaying signals between the brain and the arms. Persons using crutches are at higher risk of developing this condition as the supports can apply pressure on the nerves. This leads to numbness and tingling in the arms.
The cubital tunnel syndrome is another condition that can lead to pain and numbness in the arms. This condition occurs when the ulnar nerve is compressed at the elbow joint. This leads to numbness and possible pain in the forearms and hands. Reducing compression usually provides relief.
Overuse of a specific hand can result in painful conditions such as golfers elbow and tennis elbow. This results after the muscles and tendon around the elbow area become strained from overuse. Golfers elbow affects the inside part of the elbow joint while tennis elbow affects the outer bony area of the elbow. The painful symptoms can last for a number of weeks before they fade.
The mentioned are just a few of the conditions that can affect the arms causing pain or numbness. Some of these are directly linked to the arms while others are referred pain from other body parts. In most instances, medical attention will be necessary to identify the cause and find treatment options for these conditions.