What causes arm and shoulder pain?

Arm pain can be caused by a wide variety of problems, ranging from joint injuries to compressed nerves. Depending on the cause, arm pain can start suddenly or develop over time.

Shoulder problems vary widely and can include; dislocation, separation, rotator cuff tendinitis, rotator cuff tear, frozen shoulder, fracture, and arthritis.

In many cases, arm and shoulder pain actually originates from a problem in your neck, biceps or upper spine. Arm pain, particularly pain that radiates into your left arm, can even be a sign of a heart attack.

Seek emergency treatment if you have:

  • Arm, shoulder or back pain that comes on suddenly, is unusually severe, or is accompanied by pressure, fullness or squeezing in your chest (this may signal a heart attack)
  • An obvious deformity or protruding bone in your arm or wrist, especially if you have bleeding or other injuries
  • Arm, shoulder or back pain that occurs with any sort of exertion and is relieved by rest — possibly signaling heart disease or chest discomfort caused by reduced blood flow to your heart muscle (angina)
  • A sudden injury to your arm, particularly if you hear a snap or cracking sound
  • Severe pain and swelling in your arm
  • Trouble moving your arm normally or turning your arm from palm up to palm down and vice versa

Come and see us if you have:

  • Arm pain that doesn’t improve after home care
  • Increasing redness, swelling or pain in the injured area

How is the cause of shoulder pain diagnosed?

We will request your medical history and do a physical examination. Imaging tests, such as an X-ray or MRI, can produce detailed pictures of your arm and shoulder to help with the diagnosis.

Questions to determine the cause of pain may include:

  • Is the pain in one shoulder or both?
  • Did this pain begin suddenly? If so, what were you doing?
  • Does the pain move to other areas of your body?
  • Can you pinpoint the area of pain?
  • Does it hurt when you’re not moving?
  • Does it hurt more when you move in certain ways?
  • Is it a sharp pain or a dull ache?
  • Has the area of pain been red, hot, or swollen?
  • Does the pain keep you awake at night?
  • What makes it worse and what makes it better?
  • Have you had to limit your activities because of your arm and/or shoulder pain?

At Regenerativ Medicina, we will use contemporary techniques to diagnose and treat your pain.

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