Chances are good that you don’t think too much about your arms until one is injured or causes you pain. And at LA Pain Doctor, with six locations across Louisiana, we know it’s challenging to tell the difference between arm pain that will go away on its own and arm pain that needs medical attention.
Our pain specialists have the expertise and skill needed to diagnose and treat arm pain caused by all kinds of underlying conditions. We also believe in the importance of patient education, so we created this guide to arm pain and how to know when it’s time to see a specialist for treatment.
Understanding arm pain
From acute trauma or injury to a chronic underlying health condition, arm pain can start for many reasons. And different kinds of arm pain can signal a serious underlying health condition, like pain in your left arm indicating a possible heart attack.
Some of the more common causes of arm pain include injuries from repetitive use like carpal tunnel syndrome or tendonitis, degenerative diseases like arthritis, and acute trauma like rotator cuff injuries. Other common causes include:
- Tendon and ligament strains and sprains
- Tennis and golfer’s elbow
- A brachial plexus injury
- Elbow or shoulder dislocations
- Fractures in your arm, hand, or wrist
- Pinched or compressed nerves
- Cervical disc herniation in the neck
Though less common, atherosclerosis in the arms, a buildup of cholesterol in the arteries that blocks blood flow, can also cause pain, cramping, weakness, or a feeling of heaviness or tightness in your arm.
When to treat arm pain at home
Not all arm pain requires medical intervention or a visit to an arm pain specialist. For example, if your arm is sore after you play a new sport or you’ve exerted yourself working in the yard, chances are good that at-home therapies can help you feel better.
For acute arm pain related to sore, tired muscles, repetitive motion, a minor muscle pull, and mild joint pain, the RICE approach can provide excellent relief:
- Rest: Minimize your activity and take a break from any physical motions that aggravate or trigger your arm pain
- Ice: Apply a cold compress or ice pack, wrapped to protect your skin, for 20 minutes at a time a few times a day
- Compression: Wrap your affected arm with a compression bandage
- Elevation: To reduce swelling, keep your arm elevated above your heart
You can also take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen, to ease your discomfort.
When to see a specialist about your arm pain
Some types of arm pain require emergency medical attention. For example, pain in your left arm — especially when accompanied by chest pain, pressure in your chest, shortness of breath, nausea, or back pain — could signal a heart attack. In this case, call 911 or go to your nearest ER.
When you experience arm pain caused by an acute trauma like a fracture or wound, sudden and severe pain, or if you can’t move your arm or fingers, it’s best to seek urgent medical attention. The ER or an urgent care clinic can provide you with the prompt care you need.
When your arm pain doesn’t go away or improve with at-home treatments, or if it’s been lingering for weeks or months, schedule an appointment with an arm pain specialist. Our team at LA Pain Doctor has the expertise needed to uncover the underlying cause of your pain and create a plan to provide you with relief.
How we treat arm pain
We take a comprehensive approach to treating your pain. The providers at LA Pain Doctor combine their skill and experience in different areas of medicine to give you the best pain relief and recovery possible.
For all types of arm pain, we create a personalized treatment plan to meet your needs. Depending on the cause of your pain, your treatment may include:
- Physical medicine therapies, such as braces, splints, and rehabilitation exercises
- Interventional medicine therapies, such as nerve blocks or radiofrequency ablation
- Regenerative medicine therapies, such as prolotherapy and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections
Whether you’re an athlete struggling with arm pain caused by a sports injury or you have chronic arm pain caused by a degenerative disease like arthritis, our patient-first providers are here to help you.
Are you ready to learn more about how the team at LA Pain Doctor can ease your arm pain? Call us at one of our six locations across Louisiana, or request an appointment online today.