Arm Pain Relief Tips

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Which type of arm pain is accompanied by an inability to reach backwards?

Upper Arm Pain from Frozen Shoulder

Adhesive capsulitis, more commonly known as frozen shoulder, is a condition of the upper arm which occurs with inflammation of the shoulder joint. Specifically, the inflammation surrounds the lining of the shoulder joint to produce arm pain above and below the shoulder joint. As thickening of the lining endures, the joint immobilizes and causes pain in the surrounding muscles.

Frozen shoulder can afflict people between the ages of 40 and 60, and it often occurs with the onset of diabetes. Symptoms of frozen shoulder include:

  • Arm pain
  • Restricted motion and stiffness
  • Muscle aching
Frozen shoulder is often manifested with a slow onset of pain, and as it worsens, arm pain causes lost motion and may become completely immobile. Usually, a frozen shoulder can be indicated by an inability to reach backwards with the arm.

Over time, some cases of frozen shoulder may naturally heal. However, it is necessarily to consult a doctor if you wish to receive the swiftest and most optimal recovery.

What causes a rotator cuff tear?

The Cycle That Leads to a Rotator Cuff Tear

Your shoulder joint is the most mobile joint in the body, and the main function of the rotator cuff muscles is to keep it functioning properly. This group of four muscles connects your humerus (or arm bone) to its articulation with the tip of the shoulder blade. Their orientation within the joint helps the arm perform complex and demanding maneuvers such as throwing a ball, swinging a tennis racket, and lifting objects onto shelves above your head. Damage to the rotator cuff can come from various mechanisms, causing upper arm pain, pain with specific movement, and loss of strength. One such cause is wear and tear. Picture this:

  • The tendons of the rotator cuff pass through a tunnel within the shoulder complex, created by the clavicle or collarbone, the acromion (or tip of the shoulder), and the ligaments that hold the bones together.
  • When the arm moves repetitively, especially in overhead motions, those tendons can bump against the ceiling of the tunnel and become irritated.
  • That irritation leads to inflammation and swelling of the tendon, a condition called impingement syndrome (literally, a squishing of the tendon as it tries to function in a narrow space).
  • Impingement weakens the tendon, making it less resilient to stress and strain.
  • Fraying or small tears can occur.
  • Then, when the tendon bumps against the ceiling of the tunnel again, it is already a little thicker from the inflammation and prior damage. As a result, the tendon has even less space in which to function and so becomes even more irritated and worn down.
This cycle can continue for years, with the tendons becoming weaker and losing their ability to function properly, or until the tendon finally tears.

Other possible causes of a torn rotator cuff include falling, lifting, and repetitive overhead arm activities, such as swimming, throwing, or playing tennis.

Like any other muscle strain, rotator cuff tears are classified by degree, depending upon the amount of tissue damage present. Some tears can be rehabilitated with physical therapy and medication, while others require surgical repair.

What is Arm Paresthesia?

Arm Pain May Be Connected with Nerve Damage

Arm paresthesia is not overly common, but its effects can be quite excruciating. Paresthesia consists of various nerve sensations such as pins-and-needles, tingling, prickling, burning, and other strange feelings. Arm paresthesia in particular refers to this abnormality when it takes place in the arm. This condition can occur as a result of injury but is also associated with various diseases such as diabetes, spinal damage, and multiple sclerosis.

Symptoms of arm paresthesia may include but are not limited to:

  • Arm pain
  • Extensive tingling
  • Abnormal sensations
Arm pain symptoms accompanied by paresthesia may be constant or irregular but is greatly dependent upon the particular cause of this condition in the patient.

When undiagnosed, continued nerve damage of arm paresthesia may often lead to undesirable bodily injuries. Due to its severity, receiving professional evaluation and treatment for this condition is overwhelmingly critical.

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.

What does it mean if I have numbness or tingling in my hands or arms?

Tingling Hands and Arms: a Sign of a Problem Worth Checking Out

Numbness and tingling of the hands or arm can be quite annoying (have you ever fallen asleep on your hands and woken up with no feeling?). Imagine having that sensation with you all the time. Several conditions can cause pain and tingling in hands and arms. Here is a breakdown of the more common ones:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome- This condition involves a compression of the nerves and tendons that cross the wrist and go into the hand. The thumb, index, and long fingers are usually the most affected. Arm pain symptoms related to carpal tunnel syndrome include numbness and tingling (especially at night), pain radiating up the arm, and hand weakness.
  • Ulnar nerve dysfunction- The ulnar nerve passes behind the bone on the inner portion of the elbow and is subject to over-stretching from athletic movements such as throwing or playing tennis, or can become symptomatic after a trauma. Symptoms include tingling or numbness from the elbow to the fourth or fifth fingers, as well as hand weakness.
  • Peripheral neuropathy- This condition affects the arms and hands by causing numbness, tingling, or a crawling sensation in both hands. It can also affect the feet.

Getting relief for these conditions may require medical attention and physical therapy treatment, so check with your doctor if you are experiencing these symptoms.

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William Pirraglia