Arm pain is a fairly common complaint that can be caused by many different factors. Nerve compressions, abnormalities, and joint injuries can lead to arm pain, moreover, diseases affecting the peripheral area of the body my also lead to pain. But most dangerous of all, it can be a symptom of heart attack, or myocardial infarction, which is a life-threatening medical emergency.
The arm is one of the most, if not the most, actively used body parts in the human body, thus it is highly prone to arm pain. Although some cases of upper arm pain is not serious and may just produce mild annoyances, it might still be necessary to seek medical advice as some cases may develop into a serious condition if left untreated. To know when to call for medical advice, read on below.
Causes of Arm Pain
Arm pain may be a symptom of an injury but may also denote other serious life-threatening medical emergencies. It may be difficult to diagnose the cause of pain. The following are the possible causes of arm pain in men, women and children:
- Broken arm
- Broken wrist or hand
- Elbow dislocation
- Arthritis of the elbow
- Tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow
- Cervical rib
- Nerve compression
- Inflammation of arm nerves
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Myocardial infarction
When to See a Doctor Regarding Arm Pain
The following are tips in order to give the reader an idea when to contact the proper person for the scenario:
- When to seek emergency medical assistance
- Abrupt and unusually intense pain in the arm, shoulder or back that is accompanied by squeezing, pressure or fullness in the chest (may be a symptom of myocardial infarction)
- Evident deformity or open fracture in the wrist or arm
- When to visit the doctor immediately
- Arm, shoulder or back pain that arises during exertion and is relieved by rest
- Abrupt arm injury, especially if accompanied by a cracking or snap sound
- Intense pain and swelling of the arm accompanies by difficulty moving the arm and turning the palm down to up and vice versa
- When to schedule a visit to the doctor
- Pain does not fade away after a few days of home management
- Amplified pain, redness and swelling in the affected arm
First Aid Management for Arm Pain
Home treatment can usually manage mild arm pain, even for cases of broken arms. Treatment will depend on the underlying problem. To manage arm pain at home, the following steps are recommended:
- For cases of sprains and broken bones, follow the RICE method.
- Rest the affected arm from doing any more activities.
- Ice the affected area for 15-20 minutes thrice daily. Wrap the ice in a towel or any cloth.
- Compress the affected arm using a compression bandage to limit swelling.
- Elevate the affected area above heart level also to limit swelling.
- If the bone is broken, apply a sling.
- For other possible causes of arm pain, the RICE method may also be done but the following steps are also recommended:
- Remove any accessories that may hinder blood flow to any part of the arm. Also, it might be difficult to remove accessories once the arm has started swelling.
- Massage the arm to increase blood follow. Avoid this if it causes pain.
Disclaimer: This article does not provide medical advice or treatment. This information given should not be used for self-diagnosis of the possible conditions. Seek medical attention when needed. To learn more about how to manage arm pain and other body pains, enrol in First Aid Courses with workplace approved training.