The human body comprises many organ systems and specialized anatomical structures. Every bodily movement of ours is actuated by the collective working of these structures. While the blood vessels carry oxygenated blood to various parts of the body, the nerves carry impulses and act as the communication link between the brain and the other parts of the body. Bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons, nerves, and cartilage are specialized structures of the musculoskeletal system. While the skeleton provides a framework for the body, the contraction and relaxation of muscles facilitates the movement of joints that are located in various parts of the body. If any of these structures gets injured, the range of motion of the affected part of the body is bound to get restricted. For instance, a shoulder or an arm injury is most likely to limit the range of motion of the arm. One may experience pain while lifting or moving the injured arm. However, the range of motion would be restored once the healing process is complete. In this article, we will look into the common causes of upper right arm pain along with the effective treatment options.
An injury, muscle pull, fracture, dislocation, or a pinched nerve in the upper arm region are some of the common causes of pain. Here is some information on the medical conditions that figure in the list of contributory factors.
Trauma to the Shoulder or the Arm
If you recently had a bad fall, wherein you fell on your upper right arm, wrist, or hand, you are most likely to experience pain in your right arm. If a person sustains a rotator cuff injury in the right shoulder, pain may be experienced anywhere between the shoulder and the elbow. A brachial plexus injury is an injury wherein the network of nerves that supply the arm and certain parts of the shoulder get damaged. This type of injury could also cause pain. While one should follow the doctor's advice regarding drug therapy or other treatment options to ease the discomfort, one must also refrain from any physical activity that may cause strain to the shoulder or the arm.
Pain and numbness in the upper arm could even be attributed to a compressed nerve that may be located anywhere between the fingertips and your neck region. Whenever a nerve gets compressed, the nerve endings are unable to send signals. A lack of coordination between nerves and the brain leads to a sensation of numbness and tingling in the hand and the arm. Carpal tunnel syndrome is one such medical condition that is caused due to the compression of the median nerve in the wrist and the hand. A person affected by this condition is most likely to experience a tingling sensation and pain in the fingers, arms, wrist, and hand. It can cause severe pain, especially when one tries to move the wrist. This usually affects one's grip. One may end up dropping objects frequently. If the symptoms are mild, doctors may recommend non-surgical methods. The patient may have to wear a wrist splint to hold the wrist still. Doctors may also prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs.
Tendons are bands of connective tissue that attach muscles to bones. The biceps tendons that attach the biceps muscle at the shoulder and the elbow can get inflamed when one performs vigorous activities like lifting heavy weights. This condition is medically referred to as bicipital tendonitis. The inflamed tendon is most likely to cause pain in the biceps in the upper arm. Tennis elbow is another example of tendonitis. Doctors usually prescribe rest and the use of anti-inflammatory drugs to treat this problem. Application of ice packs may also help. Sessions with a physiotherapist might be needed to strengthen the muscles and tendons and recover the range of motion of the arm.
Other Joint Conditions
Pain could also be attributed to rheumatoid arthritis. This is a joint disorder that is characterized by the inflammation of joints. If inflammation occurs around the upper right shoulder or arm, there is a great likelihood of one experiencing pain in the upper right arm. Degenerative joint conditions such as osteoarthritis or osteoporosis could also be responsible for causing pain. Shoulder bursitis, rotator cuff tendonitis, adhesive capsulitis, or frozen shoulder are some of the other conditions that could occur due to overuse of muscles. These conditions can lead to stiffness around the shoulder and restrict the range of motion of the arm.
When it comes to the treatment of any medical condition, the importance of an early diagnosis can never be stressed enough. Sometimes, we don't feel the pain immediately after an injury, and assume everything to be fine, while there might have been some damage. While bruises or swelling are visible signs of an injury, an X-ray can help the doctors assess the extent of damage. So, one must seek medical help. Here is some information on the precautionary measures and treatment options.
If the pain is temporary, and you don't have any serious medical condition like bursitis or arthritis, follow the simple rule of giving your arm some rest. If there is any muscle twitching in the arm or a muscle sprain, just take a break and don't perform any activity that involves vigorous movement of your arms. Take ample rest to avoid muscle fatigue, so that you may recover quickly.
Application of Heat
Applying a heating pad will certainly prove beneficial. One could use an electrical heating pad or place a hot water bottle over the affected area. Application of hot packs causes the blood vessels to dilate, thereby improving the blood flow, which in turn may speed up healing. Applying ice packs may help reduce the pain and bring down the swelling.
Go for Physiotherapy
A persistent upper right arm and shoulder pain should not be ignored. If you have injured yourself, it would be best to go for physiotherapy sessions. This will help you to get back the arm's normal range of motion and ease the pain. Pain and numbness in upper right arm could also be caused by poor circulation of blood. A physiotherapist can help you identify the right exercises that would improve blood circulation.
The use of painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs would be required. While painkillers will provide pain relief, anti-inflammatory drugs would bring down the inflammation, and considerably reduce swelling. However, one must take the medicines as per the dosage prescribed by the doctor. Prolotherapy is another method where dextrose injections are administered to the affected tendon or ligament to stimulate localized inflammation and speed up healing.
Surgery might be an option in the event of serious injuries to the arm. You must get yourself examined if you experience a sharp shooting pain or hear snapping sounds. If you have recently had a surgery, take rest and refrain from performing any activity that may put pressure on your arm. This is the best way to avoid further complications.
The intensity of the pain can range from mild to severe and pain could be intermittent to continuous. Well, whatever the case may be, timely diagnosis and treatment can put an end to your troubles. If you have been experiencing recurring pain in your upper right arm, seek medical help immediately.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.