Arm pain is pain or discomfort that is experienced by an individual anywhere throughout the arm. This pain can be in the shoulder, wrist or elbow. It can occur due to various reasons. A few common causes of arm pain are overuse or injury. The pain can start suddenly and go away unexpectedly. Sometimes, it increases gradually with time.

What Causes It

Trauma or injury to the shoulder, joint dislocations, bone fractures or muscle strains can also lead to arm pain. A few diseases that affect other parts of the body, such as arthritis or peripheral vascular disease, can also cause arm pain. Other causes of arm pain can range from minor to life-threatening conditions, such as a heart attack.

Risk Factors

These are some of the most common risk factors of arm pain:

  • Poor posture
  • Nerve injury
  • Injury
  • Chest pain


The symptoms that usually accompany arm pain are related to the cause and location of the pain. Common symptoms include:

  • Redness
  • Stiffness
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Muscle weakness
  • Tingling
  • Numbness


In a large number of cases, even the most serious cases of arm pain and injuries are treated with home remedies. However, if you have broken your wrist or arm, you should contact your doctor immediately. If no bone is broken or fractured, you can try applying ice packs to the affected region. Maintaining good posture, taking frequent breaks while working and being consistent about therapy help to relieve arm pain. Moreover, maintaining a good posture is also necessary for avoiding injuries, especially if your work involves repetitive activities, such as playing an instrument.

All arm pain treatments are prescribed depending on the underlying cause of your arm pain. Initial treatment may include rest, application of hot or cold compresses and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) or acetaminophen for relieving pain.

RICE is an acronym for self-care that actually lists four remedies to relieve arm pain. Rest, ice, pain relievers, and stretching should be exercised to observe how your arm pain responds to each activity.

Follow this self-care routine if your arm pain doesn’t go away after a certain period of time.

  • Rest – Avoid strenuous activities
  • Ice – Place an ice pack on the affected area for 20 minutes thrice a day
  • Compression – Use a compression bandage
  • Elevation – Elevate your arm to relieve swelling

Other treatments include the following prescription drugs:

  • NSAIDs
  • Muscle Relaxers
  • Tricyclic Antidepressants
  • Neuroleptics
  • General Pain Medications
  • Opioids

When to Request an Evaluation

When the self-care regime doesn’t reduce your arm pain, you should seek treatment from a qualified doctor. Any sudden pain can signal a broken, arm, shoulder or fracture that needs immediate medical attention. Do not move your arm if you notice protruding bones and ask someone to accompany you to the doctor.

Preparing for Your Appointment

Your doctor will examine you for any broken or fractured bones in your arm. You should be able to tell how sharp or dull your pain is. The doctor will prescribe suitable medication or treatment to treat your arm pain. The doctor may also ask for an X-ray for making an appropriate diagnosis.