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Causes and Treatment Options for Arm Pain and Weakness

Pragya T
Arm pain accompanied by weakness should be treated on time, otherwise it can lead to serious complications. Here are conditions associated with it.
Arm pain can be short-term if it is caused by a strain, and not very painful. However, certain conditions lead to severe arm pain and weakness and need medical attention. Such conditions often take time to heal, and one needs to follow additional home care methods to treat such a condition.


Here are the common conditions which causes arm pain, arm weakness, and some conditions which cause both arm weakness and pain.
  • Tendinitis is the inflammation of a tendon and can cause dull arm pain.
  • Repetitive wrist movement leads to intersection syndrome which causes pain in the arm.
  • Bursitis is the inflammation of the small sacs which are present at the joints. Bursitis commonly occurs in the shoulder area and can result in mild to severe arm pain.
  • A broken wrist or broken hand can also lead to this disorder.
  • A sports injury while stretching head away from the shoulder, results in an electric shock like feeling, which causes a feeling of upper arm weakness and ache.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome which starts with pain in the wrist finally results in weakness in the hand and forearm.
  • Postherpetic neuralgia affects the nerve fibers and causes arm pain and numbness.
  • Repetitive strain injuries also causes arm pain and weakness.
  • Thoracic outlet syndrome is commonly caused due to physical trauma wherein a person suffers from arm pain and numbness.
  • Spraining can also cause left or right arm pain.
  • Brachial plexus injury occurs when the nerves get stretched or torn.
  • Left arm pain accompanied with a sensation of pressure in the chest is a sign of heart attack.
Follow these home care measures to get relief from arm pain and weakness. However, seek medical care in severe cases.

Home Care Tips

Try to rest the arm and use it the least possible as advisable by doctors. This is the first step towards recovery, hence rest your arm as much as you can.

To heal your arm faster, rest your arm by taking a break from your normal activities. If you go to work, then consider taking a few days off, and resume your normal activities till you feel better.
Press an ice compress on the affected area 2 - 3 times a day, to get relief from the pain. Cold compress help during the inflammatory stage after a strain or pull in muscle. It also helps in case of flare-ups of joint pain. They can be used for 10 minutes every few hours. However, you can use hot packs to treat the stiffness which occurs after muscle strain.
Keep your arm elevated to reduce the amount of swelling in your arm. You can place your affected arm on couple of cushions to support it and keep it elevated. You can also buy an arm sling at a medical store to keep the arm elevated.
Massage therapy can help people who are getting arm pain after exercise. Massaging the affected arm will help to improve blood circulation, increase flexibility and relieve pain. In case you have muscle ache due to exercising, consider getting a massage done to relieve pain.
To relieve the pain you can use over-the-counter painkillers, like ibuprofen to ease off the symptoms. However, in case the pain doesn't subside you will need to contact a doctor. Here are special cases in which one needs to seek medical help.

When to Seek Medical Care

  • Schedule an appointment with the doctor if the arm pain doesn't go away after 1 week of home care measures.
  • If the symptoms of affected arm worsens like increased swelling, redness or pain.
  • If you have a brachial plexus injury, which has not healed within a month.
  • Contact your doctor immediately if you experience pain when there is exertion on your arm, and no pain when the arm is at rest.
  • If you have trouble moving your arm, contact a health practitioner immediately.
  • Seek immediate medical care, if you have sudden arm, shoulder or back pain accompanied with pressure in the chest.
  • Medical care is required if you have a protruding bone in your arm or wrist, or any bleeding in the arm or wrist area.
If you are experiencing pain or weakness of the arm because of common sprain or strain then home remedies will help to heal the arm within some days. However, left arm pain and weakness can be a symptom of heart attack, in such cases seek immediate medical help.