What is upper arm pain?

Pain in the upper arm can result from damage or injury to any of the structures in the upper arm, including bones, joints, tendons, muscles, nerves, connective tissue, skin, or blood vessels. In some cases, pain perceived in the upper arm may actually be referred pain caused by injury or disease elsewhere in the body, such as a heart attack.

Upper arm pain may be localized or diffuse, affecting one or both arms. The pain may be sharp and stabbing or dull and throbbing. You may feel upper arm pain only at certain times of day or when you are performing certain activities. Particularly in the case of injuries, upper arm pain may come on suddenly. Upper arm pain due to other causes, such as arthritis, may develop over time.

Trauma or injury to the arm or shoulder, including muscle strain from exercise, is a common cause of upper arm pain. Arm pain can also result from injuries, tumors, or trauma to the spine, such as intervertebral disc disease. Chronic conditions that affect other areas of the body, such as arthritis, can cause upper arm pain. Infections of the skin and underlying tissues (cellulitis) or bone (osteomyelitis) are less common causes of upper arm pain.

Upper arm pain can also be a symptom of decreased blood flow to the heart (angina pectoris) or heart attack (myocardial infarction). When this happens, upper arm pain may be accompanied by other symptoms, such as shortness of breath and pain or pressure in the chest area. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you have unexplained upper arm pain or any of these symptoms, or you think you may be having a heart attack.

If your upper arm pain is persistent or causes you concern, seek prompt medical care.


What other symptoms might occur with upper arm pain?

Upper arm pain may be accompanied by other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Symptoms that affect the upper arm may also involve other body systems.

Arm symptoms that may occur along with upper arm pain

Upper arm pain may accompany other symptoms affecting the arm including:


What causes upper arm pain?

Injury or damage to any of the structures in the upper arm can lead to upper arm pain. Upper arm pain may also result from conditions that affect other areas of the body or the entire body, such as diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, or vascular disease.

Traumatic causes of upper arm pain

A ... Read more about upper arm paincauses

Medical Reviewer: Cynthia Haines, MD Last Annual Review Date: Aug 11, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Bones, Joints and Muscles

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