Pain in the upper arm can be very deceiving, because most shoulder injuries involve injury to the structures in the upper arm. Structures like the biceps in the front and the triceps at the back can cause significant pain.

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Causes of upper arm pain

Muscles in the upper arm will limit movement of the shoulder joint as well as the elbow seeing that these muscles run over more than one joint.

Nerves in the upper arm involve a big bundle of power cables running on the inside of the armpit to the inside of the elbow. When they get compressed they produce pins & needles or numbness that spreads into the fingers. Some patients experience neck pain associated with upper arm pain, which leads us to investigate the nerves running out of the neck all the way to the fingers. These patients suffer from a condition called Thoracic Outlet syndrome.

Major arteries run alongside the nerves and can cause bleeding after a fall onto the arm. The famous pain radiating to the left upper arm can be referred pain from the heart, and must be tested during examination.

upper arm pain
upper arm pain shoulder dislocation

Our professional experience with upper arm pain

We are able to pinpoint the muscle or nerve pathway that produces the pain. In most cases the Biceps and Brachialis muscles are responsible for the pain. We also examine the elbow and shoulder joint to ensure the pain isn’t coming from a different structures that refer pain to the upper arm.

Common upper arm injuries we treat:

  • Biceps tendinitis
  • Biceps muscle tear
  • Triceps muscle tear
  • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

Symptoms

Mild symptoms

  • Pain with shoulder movement
  • Pain while lifting/carrying
  • Pain when bending the elbow
  • Unable to touch the opposite shoulder
  • Swelling
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Moderate symptoms

  • Burning pain at rest
  • Sharp pain when leaning on shoulder or hands
  • Pain radiating down the forearm to the fingers
  • Sharp pain when pulling or pushing
  • Stiffness and pain when stretching
  • Pain in the arm when the neck is moved

Severe symptoms

  • Unable to move the shoulder or elbow
  • Unable to put weight on the arm
  • Unable to bend or straighten the elbow
  • Loss of muscle strength
  • Numbness
  • Pins & Needles into the fingers
  • Bleeding on the inside of the arm