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Left Arm Pain and Weakness

Left Arm Pain and Weakness

Pain and weakness in the left arm could occur due to reasons ranging from injury, muscle soreness or something as serious as a heart attack. If you suffer from persistent left arm pain and weakness, it would be best to seek medical help in order to ascertain the underlying cause.
Smita Pandit
Last Updated: Apr 23, 2018
Since pain in the left arm is believed to be an early symptom of a heart attack, people tend to become apprehensive on experiencing pain in the left arm. Well, left arm pain alone should not be viewed as a definite sign of a heart attack. It must also be accompanied by other symptoms such as the feeling of pressure or a dull squeezing pain in the chest. Moreover, pain and weakness in the left arm could be attributed to non-cardiac causes.
Causes
Pain, weakness and /or tingling in the left arm can be caused due to a wide range of reasons. Here's some information on the probable causes.
Injury/Overuse of Muscles
Overuse of muscles can be responsible for causing pain in the arm. Repetitive strain injuries are commonly responsible for causing pain. Those involved in sports such as weightlifting, tennis, baseball and cricket are also vulnerable to injuries that can result in pain. An injury to the tendons, ligaments and bones of the left arm is most likely to cause pain in the left arm.
Poor Blood Circulation
At times, people wake up with pins-and-needle sensation in their arm. This may occur if your left arm was in an awkward position while sleeping. Those who sleep with their head resting on the left arm may also experience pain. While a wrong sleeping posture could be a contributory factor for pain in the arm, sleeping on a very hard mattress can also aggravate pain. Numbness or tingling sensation may be felt if enough blood is not reaching the affected area.
Angina
Pain in the left arm could be a sign of heart conditions such as angina or heart attack. Angina refers to squeezing chest pain that arises when the amount of oxygenated blood that is supplied to the heart muscle is not sufficient. Poor supply of oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle could be a sign of coronary heart disease.
Heart Attack
On the other hand, a heart attack is a serious condition that occurs when the supply of oxygenated blood to a part of the heart muscle becomes blocked. If the blockage is not treated soon, that section of heart muscle could die. While squeezing chest pain or pressure is the characteristic sign of a heart attack, the pain could also radiate to the neck, jaw, arm and back. One may also suffer from shortness of breath and anxiety.
Other Medical Conditions
Some of the medical conditions that could cause pain in the arm include tendinitis, arthritis, bursitis, and fibromyalgia.
  • Tendinitis refers to the inflammation of tendons, which are bands of tissue that connects the muscle to the bone. Inflammation of tendons in the wrist, elbow and the shoulder could cause pain in the arm.
  • Arthritis refers to the inflammation of one or more joints. If the shoulder or elbow joints are inflamed, one is likely to experience pain and restricted mobility.
  • A bursa is fluid-filled sac that reduces friction between the bones, gliding muscles and tissues. Inflammation of bursa is medically referred to as bursitis. An inflamed bursa in the shoulder joint or the elbow joint can definitely cause severe discomfort.
  • Fibromyalgia is a syndrome that is characterized by pain in tendons, soft tissues and muscles. Though the pain is usually widespread, it may be localized to certain areas.
  • Medical conditions where a compressed nerve is the reason behind pain in the arm include ulnar nerve entrapment, carpal tunnel syndrome and thoracic outlet syndrome.
Treatment
The treatment would vary depending on the underlying cause. It is essential to seek medical help for identifying the cause.
  • If you have suffered from a mild injury and the arm appears to be swollen, apply an ice pack. This will reduce the pain and swelling. Since some injuries could lead to a fracture or dislocation, it would be best to consult a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.
  • Once the underlying medical condition has been diagnosed, doctors might suggest treatment options that may involve topical application of medicated creams and use of painkillers or anti-inflammatory drugs to alleviate the pain. Take rest and avoid any activity that may cause muscle fatigue.
  • If numbness and tingling in the arm is due to poor blood circulation, going for physiotherapy sessions may prove beneficial. A gentle massage with aromatherapy oils might also help in alleviating the pain caused due to sore muscles. Once the pain subsides, make sure that you do gentle stretching.
  • If you have been experiencing weakness and hand tremors, visit a neurologist. The pain and tingling sensation could be caused due to a pinched nerve or a neurological problem.
  • If you are experiencing chest pain along with pain in your left arm, contact a cardiologist.
  • Since a sedentary lifestyle can make you vulnerable to such problems, make the necessary dietary changes and exercise regularly to strengthen your arms.
If you have been suffering from pain or weakness in your left arm, it would be in your best interest to consult a doctor soon. A timely diagnosis and treatment will certainly fasten the pace of recovery.
Disclaimer:
This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.