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If you are experiencing a sharp and shooting pain in your left arm, do not take it lightly. It could be a signal to some life threatening conditions. In this article, we will examine the causes of pain in the left arm and the remedies for treating such pain.
10 Major Causes of Pain in Left Arm
One of the most common reasons for pain the left arm is angina pain. Angina is a glaring symptom of heart attack. The pain is caused due to discomfort in the heart when the heart receives an insufficient amount of oxygen from the blood. Sometimes angina can be mistaken for indigestion. So it is easy to misdiagnose it.
It is possible that you have suffered from a hairline fracture in your left arm which has not been detected yet. This can give rise to a sharp and shooting pain. Hairline fractures are often hard to detect and can be the cause of a lot of discomforts as well.
This arises when any tendon swells up due to an injury. It can also lead to a lot of pain in the left arm. Since tendons are connected with the muscles all over our body, it is easy to mistaken the pain to be just a normal one. Adequate caution should be observed so that it is properly diagnosed. If left untreated, it can lead to severe pain in the body.
It may come as a surprise but anxiety is indeed a cause of a lot of pains in the body. In fact, if you are suffering from pain in your left arm due to any other reason, anxiety can worsen the pre-existing pain. If you cannot find a probable cause for pain in the left arm, you should see a general physician rule out the cause of the pain to be anxiety.
5. Heart Attack
One of the tell-tale signs of a heart attack is a pain in the left arm. Of course, a heart attack will have various other symptoms such as cold sweats, nausea, and shortness of breath etc. But a lot of people who have suffered from heart attacks note that the first symptom that they detected was a pain in the left arm. So if you are experiencing pain in the left arm for no probable cause, it could be a sign of the onset of a heart attack.
6. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel is a small passageway in our wrist which is surrounded by carpal bones. In carpal tunnel syndrome, there is a numbness in the fingers and a pain in the left arm. When the nerves in this region are squeezed, it gives rise to the pain. The condition worsens over time. Therefore it is extremely important to get it checked at the earliest. Continuous stress on the nerves can lead to permanent damage of the nerves.
7. Herniated Disc
This takes place when the vertebrae of the spinal cord slip out of their position and exert pressure on the nerves in the surrounding regions. This kind of injury is common to the cervical and lumbar region. Due to the slipped disc, there is numbness and pain in the left arm. It can be a debilitating condition if proper steps are not taken for its remedy.
8. Rotator cuff tear
The rotator cuff consists of muscles and tendon which surround the shoulder area. A dull ache in the shoulder region can arise if the joint in the shoulder is overworked for any reason. Over time, this pain can move to the arm region as well. People who play sports which involve overhead movements are very prone to rotator cuff injuries. This also leads to a sharp pain in the left arm. Since rotator cuff injury worsens at night, you can experience a very bad pain in your left arm at night.
9. Sprain in your arm
Sprain in your arm can be due to a number of reasons. If you are used to lifting a heavy load, pulling of muscles is very common. Over time, the muscles can become overstretched worsening the pain. If you are experiencing any such kind of pain, immediate medical attention is a must.
10. Auto-immune disorder
In an auto-immune disease, the immune system of the body attacks itself. This leads to a lot of inflammation of the joints and muscles in the body. Over time, this translates into a pain in the left arm as well. While the reasons for an auto-immune disorder are unknown, the effects of it are debilitating. A suspected trigger of auto-immune disease is the western diet which is high in sugar content and processed food.
Treatment of pain in the left arm
The treatment for the pain will depend on the cause of the pain. If the reason for the pain in the left arm is a possible heart condition, then the treatment has to be of the underlying heart condition. In the event, you are suffering from a heart condition and you experience sudden pain in the left arm, seek immediate medical attention. Do not attempt to try home remedies.
Other treatment options for pain include the following:
- RICE – Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation is the basis of any physical therapy. Start with resting the arm completely. Avoid any activity which will work for the muscle group in your arm. Ice the area frequently as ice is a natural painkiller. Compression is equally essential for treating pain. It usually involves covering the affected area with an elastic bandage. The bandage should not be wrapped too tightly around the area. This will lead to an interruption in the blood flow in the area and will lead to other problems. Finally, keep your arm on an elevated platform. For pain in the arm, the easiest way to elevate the arm is to place it on a few cushions. The idea of elevation is to keep the affected area above the level of your heart. Doing this reduces the pain significantly.
- Painkillers – If you have unbearable pain in the arm and seek immediate relief, you can try certain over-the-counter painkillers such as ibuprofen. However, ensure that the consumption of such painkiller is not reckless. Unchecked consumption of painkillers puts your liver under significant strain and can also cause damage to your kidneys. Stay away from excessive self-medication. Self-medication is a leading cause of organ failure.
- See a doctor – If you are suffering from a frozen shoulder or a tingling sensation in the wrist area which is causing pain in the arm, then see a doctor right away. If left unattended, the pain can worsen and cause permanent damage to the muscles and the nerves.
- Stretches and physical therapy – Meet a physiotherapist to learn some basic exercises. Practicing these on a regular basis can help in avoiding pain in the long run. The exercises are meant to provide more strength and flexibility to the muscles in the arm region. It also helps the arm to absorb more stress in a particular situation.
- Cortisone injections – If the pain is out of control, you can also consider getting a cortisone shot. Cortisone injections are helpful in the reduction of inflammation. The effect of these injections lasts for over a year. The shots should be administered only under the supervision of a doctor.