Question:

What can referred pain to the arm and shoulder be a sign of?

Arm Pain Isn't Always Arm Pain

Just because your arm hurts doesn't necessarily mean you have an upper extremity injury. The first thing to ask yourself is, do you remember doing something unusual with or to your arm or upper body? Maybe you tried a new athletic activity, added weight at the gym, or reached awkwardly for something heavy? If the answer is no and you still notice pain in the arm, then there could be something going on that has nothing whatsoever to do with your arm.

It's not uncommon for a condition in the abdominal cavity, related to one of your internal organs, to refer pain to your arm or shoulder. One of the more common and well-known causes of referred arm pain is heart attack or angina. Heart problems can create left arm pain and shoulder symptoms, as well as tightness in the chest, neck, jaw or arm. Another internal organ problem that can be felt in the arm is irritation of the diaphragm. This condition frequently masquerades as pain at the top of the shoulder that increases with deep breaths or palpation of the abdomen. Finally, the gall bladder may cause right arm pain and shoulder symptoms. When this structure is inflamed, irritated, or otherwise compromised, pain is often felt in the shoulder blade or on top of the shoulder.

If you are experiencing arm pain and can't tell whether or not it is related to something you did, have it checked out--you might be able to prevent a small issue from becoming a major problem.

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