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Arm Pain Above Elbow

Arm pain above the elbow is experienced due to several reasons. To get information on various aspects of this painful condition, you will have to go through this article.
Bidisha Mukherjee
Last Updated: Mar 19, 2018
We use our hands for performing so many activities. When there is pain in the arm, just above the elbow, even the normal tasks of daily life get severely affected as the pain gives a lot of discomfort to the person suffering from it. The intensity of this pain may vary from moderate to severe depending upon its cause. In certain cases, it can be so bad that the patient may find it difficult to move the arm. The condition becomes worse if the annoying pain is experienced in both the arms.
Causes of Arm Pain
This pain could be directly associated with problems in the arms, but sometimes, it could be a symptom of some other underlying health disorders. The main possible causes of this condition are as follows.
Fracture in Bones: Cracks develop in the bone of the upper arm mostly due to some traumatic injury. It can be identified with the pain and inflammation in the area surrounding the injured bone. Bleeding may also occur if the skin is broken because of the injury. In case the nerves are damaged, one can feel numbness too.
Tendonitis: This problem arises when the tendons are inflamed. The band of the connective tissues that join the bone with the muscles is known as a tendon. Swelling occurs in them either because of injury or overuse of the arms muscles. Tendons may get inflamed after lifting heavy weights. Other signs of tendonitis are swelling and tenderness of the arm joints, and the area is hot to touch.
Injury to the Muscles: If the muscles in the arms are overstretched, then tears develop in one or more of the muscle tissues, which leads to upper arm pain. Repetitive arm movements during sports like swimming, throwing a ball, playing tennis, and such other activities are mainly responsible for this kind of muscle strain. Here, the pain is accompanied by tenderness, swelling, and stiffening up of the arm muscles.
Damaged Nerves: Any damage in the nerves present at the neck and shoulder joint, badly affects the signal transmission to the arm. As a result, the muscles present there, fail to undergo contraction and relaxation, which facilitate the movements of the arm, hand or wrist. In this condition, one experiences pain and stiffness in these muscles which can further get extended to the hands and fingers as well. Irritation and swelling of the arm and shoulder joint is often observed with this form of arm pain. This can happen due to accidents, contact sports, or some bad falls.
Heartburn: Sometimes, a digestive problem like heartburn can result in severe arm pain above the elbow. It occurs when the stomach acids enter the esophagus or food pipe, and damage its inner wall. The inflammation in the esophagus lining gives a burning pain in the chest which then moves to the arms. If the pain intensifies, then one may find it difficult to even bend or lie down.
Other Causes: Diseases like arthritis affecting the elbow joint and blood circulation problems can lead to chronic arm and elbow pain. A sudden pain in the left arm just above the elbow could be a possible sign of a heart disease such as angina or heart attack. In these conditions, the early symptom is pain and tightness in the middle of the chest, that later on, gets extended to the left arm as well. Usually, it does not move towards the right arm. However, left arm pain is not the only sign of angina or a heart attack, and is accompanied by shortness of breath, dizziness, excessive sweating, nausea, etc.
A pain in the left arm along with severe chest pain should be treated in an emergency room as early as possible.
  • In other cases, you can take care of your painful arm at home by taking adequate amount of rest for at least two days.
  • While resting the arm, try to keep the elbow in a position above the level of the heart.
  • Application of ice pack has a soothing effect on the pain.
  • A mild swelling can be controlled by wrapping up an elastic bandage around the affected part of the arm.
  • If the pain and swelling persist even after these initial home remedies, then medical attention is recommended. Doctors first conduct physical examination of the entire hand.
  • The severity of the injury is ascertained with the help of X-ray.
  • Pain relieving medicines are prescribed to reduce the pain and inflammation.
  • A fractured arm bone has to be kept in immobilized condition with the help of a splint.
  • Physical therapy is recommended for arthritis or tendonitis.
  • Surgery is needed in those cases where the tissues of the arm are badly damaged and the pain is affecting the functionality of the arm.
In general, it can be said that the arms contain many muscles and hence, do not get injured very easily. However, some health conditions or overuse of the arms, poor posture, etc., can injure its structural components. Such injuries can be prevented to some extent if you do some flexibility exercises involving the arms muscles on a regular basis.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.