WHAT IS RIGHT ARM PAIN?
Pain in the arm is a common problem people face once in their lifetime. You might experience arm pain as discomfort, or stiffness occurring anywhere from your shoulders down to your fingers in one or both arms.
Right arm pain could be caused due to several reasons such as muscle overuse, injury or damage to the nerves in the affected area. Pain could be musculoskeletal such as a sprain, pulled or strained muscle, bursitis or tendinitis (tennis elbow).
This affects mostly the right-handed people. The pain could also be due to an issue with your joints, like osteoarthritis in your shoulder or elbow, or with your nerves.
Other problems that might cause right arm pain include bone tumors that cause stabbing pains, a slipped disc, or overuse of the arm especially from playing a sport.
WHAT CAUSES RIGHT ARM PAIN?
Pain in your right arm could be caused due to overuse or injury. Overuse causes damage and inflammation to the muscles in the arm resulting in muscle pain and fatigue.
You may not experience these symptoms long after over exerting the muscles. But, there might be other medical condition associated with the same such as:
- Broken bones: Fracture might cause your right arm to hurt leading to swelling, bruising, numbness, or weakness.
- Strain or sprain: The muscles strain or ligament rupture or strain could be damaged due to an injury. The symptoms would include pain, swelling, bruising, weakness, and muscle spasms. Both conditions usually heal without any treatment, but if the symptoms are severe it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible.
- Tendinitis: Occurs when the tendons in your shoulder or arm become inflamed such as tennis elbow. Tendons are bands of tissue connecting muscles to bones. The pain radiates to your shoulder, elbow, or wrist. This could also result from an injury or overuse.
- Rotator cuff injury: Rotator cuff is part of the shoulder consisting of muscles and tendons that allows your shoulder to move or stay in place. The tendons in the rotator cuff begin to wear down or tear as people age. The symptoms might range from a dull ache and weakness in your arm to severe and constant pain. Physical therapy is best to treat rotator cuff injury.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome: Repeated movement done continuously with your wrist can cause damage to the main nerve in your hand leading to numbness, tingling, weakness, and pain.
- Pinched nerve: Occurs when bones or tissues in your shoulder, neck, or elbow press and compress a nerve causing pain, numbness, weakness, and tingling.
- Herniated disk: Herniated disk comprises little cushions between the hard bones or vertebrae that make up your spine. These allow your back to flex or bend. If one of the disks in your neck ruptures, it might cause a burning pain, numbness, weakness, and tingling or burning in your right arm.
- Autoimmune diseases: A condition where your body’s natural defense system (immune system) attacks itself causes the healthy cells to be damaged. Conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and Sjogren’s syndrome might cause pain in the neck, arms, elbows, wrists, and hands.
- Brachial neuritis: This is a type of peripheral neuropathy affecting chest, shoulder, arm and hand. It mainly affects the nerves transmitting signals between the central nervous system and other parts of the body. It affects key functions and causes nerve pain. It is mainly caused by bacterial, viral, or parasitic infection.
Other causes that might cause pain in right arm are:
- Repetitive joint use, bursitis or joint inflammation
- Joint dislocations
- Peripheral vascular disease
- Skeletal structure irregularities
- Diabetic neuropathy
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF RIGHT ARM PAIN?
The symptoms of right arm pain depend on the underlying cause including:
- Pain in the wrist, elbow or shoulder
- Arm weakness
- Pain in one or both arms
- Upper arm pain
- Sudden pain in the right arm
- Redness or discoloration of the skin on the arm
- Swelling of the arm, wrist, or elbow
- Stiffness in the joints
- Arm skin feeling warm to the touch
- Itching or throbbing skin
- Pain worsens when exercising
- Numbness or tingling
- Muscle pain or muscle aches
- Reduced range of motion
- Muscle cramps or sore arm
HOW CAN RIGHT ARM PAIN BE DIAGNOSED?
In order to diagnose the cause of right arm pain, your doctor would require information about your health and family history. Doctor would also do a physical examination and recommend tests to diagnose the source of your pain including X-rays, MRI scan, CT scan, EMG/Nerve conduction study and blood tests. It is important to properly diagnose your condition so that you can receive the most effective treatment.
HOW TO TREAT RIGHT ARM PAIN?
Treatment for right arm pain mainly starts with conservative therapies including over-the-counter painkillers such as aspirin, acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
These medicines are non-prescription medications that are effective for relieving arm pain. Home care such as drinking plenty of water to reduce muscle cramps is also effective along with light stretching and massages of the affected area.
Heating or cold packs, taking warm baths or showers, and resting your arms helps in alleviation of the pain. You should elevate your right arm when you lie down. Compression bandaging helps in reducing swelling and inflammation.
Some of the therapies that help to reduce your arm pain:
- Prescription medications / medication management
- Topical agents (creams)
- Injections such as steroid medications
- Spinal Cord Stimulator
- Physical therapy including exercises, heat and cold therapy, and electrical nerve stimulation-TENS unit.
- Alternative treatments including acupuncture, chiropractic adjustments and/or massage
Common therapies recommended by doctor are:
- Medical Management – Pain specialists prescribe and regulate medication that help in controlling your pain. The pain management specialists will provide instruction needed to take your medications properly.
- Steroid Injections – Injection of a steroid helps reduce pain and inflammation. These are effective for arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
- Nerve Blocks – It is an injection therapy that reduces pain caused by nerves. This would help treat arm pain, radicular pain and/or peripheral neuropathy. The procedure requires injecting a combination of local anesthetic medication around the peripheral nerve branches for optimal pain relief. Peripheral nerve blocks are effective in providing relief lasting from a few weeks to a few months.
- Spinal Cord Stimulation – It is FDA-approved, minimally invasive procedure, requiring the implantation of a nerve stimulation device. The treatment provides low-voltage electrical currents to the affected areas of the spine, helping reduce pain signals caused by chronic pain in the arm. This procedure is effective if you are suffering with chronic pain, and do not respond to conservative treatments for at least six months.
- Surgery – In severe cases such as torn ligaments and broken bones causing arm pain, surgery is necessary.
Pain in the right arm could occur from preventable injury or trauma. Prevention is better than cure and some of the tips to prevent right arm pain are:
- Stretch regularly mainly before exercising
- Make sure you follow correct form for the exercises
- While playing sports wear protective equipment
- Stay in shape and healthy
- Lift objects in careful manner
If you or anyone you know is suffering from right arm pain, our expert providers at Specialty Care Clinics will take care of your health and help you recover.