Swollen Arm & Swelling of the Hand, Forearm, Fingers

Swelling (edema) of the arm is an indication of inflammation or disturbances of blood or lymph flow causing a swollen appearance of the hand, forearm or fingers. The swelling may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms which may assist with diagnosing the cause of the swollen arm.

It is difficult to identify a causative factor for a swollen arm solely on the swelling itself. The swollen arm should be assessed in conjunction with swelling throughout  the body (generalized) or in specific areas (localized). Swelling of the arm due to edema (in most cases) may be pitting (finger pressure leaves an impression on the swelling for a few seconds to minutes) or non-pitting edema. Pitting edema is usually indicative of a circulatory disorder while non-pitting edema may be an indication of a more localized cause.

Causes of a Swollen Arm

A swollen arm may be caused by a number of factors or predisposing conditions.

  • Inflammation due to trauma (blunt force), injury (broken bones), overuse and exertion, toxins (poisonous substances, insect or snake bites), burns, allergies or chronic conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, gout .
  • Lymphedema or lympadenopathy
  • Infection - virus, bacteria, protozoa or fungi. Localized infection of the fingers, hand or forearm or a widespread infection of the arm as in cellulitis.
  • Venous insufficiency – circulatory disorders either due to chronic conditions (cardiac, peripheral vascular disease), injury or obstructed blood flow through the arm.
  • Fat accumulation due to hypothyroidism, Cushing’s syndrome or just general weight gain may cause swollen arms although this fat deposition is gradual and evident throughout the body.

Symptoms Associated with Swelling :

A swollen arm may or may not be accompanied by other signs and symptoms apart from the visible swelling.

  • Swelling causing distortion of the anatomy of the arm and related structures. This can be clearly visible when comparing the swollen arm or hand with the normal arm or hand in unilateral (one sided) swelling.
  • Pain, numbness or tingling of the arm.
  • Itching may also be experienced with or without an evident rash.
  • Redness or paleness of the arm.
  • Excessive warmth (heat) or cold and clammy skin.
  • Muscle weakness – reduced muscle strength or difficulty in moving the arm or complete loss of movement of the hand, forearm or fingers.

Diagnosis & Treatment :

It is important to take note of causative or aggravating factors in repeated episodes of arm swelling. A swollen arm may or may not be accompanied by other signs and symptoms and these concomitant symptoms should be reported to the attending practitioner when seeking medical attention. Most importantly, it is advisable to take note if your swelling is one sided (unilateral) or of both arms (bilateral) as this may indicate a localized or generalized nature of the condition. If you are unsure of the cause of acute swelling, always immobilize your arm and seek medical attention immediately.

  • Treatment depends on the cause of the inflammation, lymphedema, infection or venous insufficiency that is causing the swelling of the arm. Fat accumulation is usually gradual and gives the appearance of a swollen arm but is not a true swelling of the limb.
  • Swelling of the fingers may likely be due to conditions like arthritis (more commonly rheumatoid arthritis) or gout (less common) and treatment should be directed at the cause of the joint swelling.
  • It is not advisable to use a cold application such as an ice pack or immersing the hand in ice water if a swelling is noticed without identifying the cause. Cold therapy may only be useful in cases of blunt trauma immediately after the injury.
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs may be useful in reducing swelling due to inflammation as well as easing any associated pain.
  • Anti-histamines and corticosteroids may assist with swelling due to allergies or insect bites. In the event of a snake bite, seek immediate medical attention as the arm swelling may be accompanied by necrosis (tissue death). More importantly, snake venom will eventually enter the systemic circulation and can cause death.
  • Certain circulatory disorders may have serious underlying pathologies including cardiovascular disease like congestive cardiac failure, kidney failure, liver failure, aneurysms and thrombosis. These conditions need to be identified and treated accordingly.
  • Fractures (broken bones) within the arm, hand or fingers will cause swelling and severe pain upon movement. Immediate medical attention is required to prevent long term complications.
  • Inform your supervising practitioner of any medication that you may be using. Anabolic steroids (used by athletes and body builders) and certain anti-hypertensive drugs may cause arm swelling.

Management :

While a swollen arm is a non-specific symptom, it should not be ignored especially in repeat cases.

  • If the arm is turning blue or if there is a complete loss of sensation or movement, medical attention is required immediately even if this is episodic.
  • Swelling of the arm after weight training or other weight bearing exercise targeting the area is common. This is not a cause for concern unless the swelling persists or is accompanied by other signs and symptoms.
  • If you are experiencing repeat  episodes of swelling and your medical practitioner has not identified any serious pathology, it is not advisable to wear tight bands, wrist watches or finger rings as this will further slow down the flow of blood or lymph.
  • Nail biters do occasionally suffer with swelling of the fingers if infection sets in (paronychia) as the mouth is laden with bacteria that will quickly infect the affected area.
  • Swelling of the arms may be common in pregnant women and are not a cause for concern.
  • Slight swelling may also occur in heat and summer months which are not serious.
  • Deep massage or manual lymph drainage as practiced in some therapeutic massage practices is not advisable for a swollen arm. The causative factor of the swelling should always be identified first and a massage can aggravate the condition.

Related Questions and Answers

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi Alarka

    You can find many good websites through Google so I cannot recommend one specifically. However, I would advise that you speak to your doctor about lupus (SLE) as well. Women in their 20s are more likely to develop these condition which can initially appear as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and the blood tests for RA may also be positive in lupus. Good luck!

  • galaxy

    Thank you, Dr. Chris. Turns out that I do have a blood clot in my upper arm. I am on blood thinners and they are trying to find out what caused it.

  • Tonykid

    my stomach is making too much noise it even flows to my heart and make me unconciouse.dizzigness on myfoot. it has last for years.Now it has become chronic.It is up to one month that i am lying.Fever,weakness and loose of apetite.my arm swell.i undergo tests like widal,E.C.G,scanning but most show normal only malaria is positive and my pvc is 35%.when i take like fryied patatoe my stool immediatly become watery.Doctor pls help.
    Some doctors says it is ulcer and they prescribed omeprazole,metrozole and amoxicilline but i took those medicine for up to one month,and some says it not ulcer since when they press middle of my chest i dont feel anything so assumed to be depression.now i discotinue with drugs.

  • KeaneaJane

    My lift arm has been swollen for two and a half weeks. I have gone to the doctor and he was unable to come up with a reason. I originally had a small bump under the skin and then a red trail with swelling along the train “down the arm”. This seemed to confuse the doctor, because most would travel up the arm not down. I am still very swollen and when I press on my arm including my wrist area there is a very large indentation left. Can anyone help and tell me what to do to get rid of this. The doctor did send me for an ultra sound on the veins in my neck and arm area, but I’ve not heard what the results were yet.

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi KeaneaJane

    You should speak to your doctor about the results of the ultrasound. It is possible that this is a blockage of the lymphatic duct in the arm which may be due to a number of reasons. This seems like a more likely explanation given that you have pitting edema. Other causes of pitting edema should also be considered but this is dependent on the presence of other clinical features as well as your medical history. An infection of the lymphatic duct or deeper tissues of the skin could also be responsible but you should have been experiencing significant pain.

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi Tonykid

    Your symptoms are serious and the fact that you have a fever, experiencing weakness and there is a loss of appetite indicates a more serious condition than just an ulcer. Malaria can cause many of these symptoms and hopefully you are being treated appropriately. It would also be advisable to have an HIV test. If you are unsatisfied with your doctor’s approach, then you should consider seeking a second opinion.

  • grahamejulie

    after an opperation on my left elbow my hand began to swell and i a bit woried what it could be any ideas ? thank’s coc

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi Grahamjulie

    There could be many possible causes and it also depends on what type of operation you underwent. Post-operative swelling is not uncommon but you have to be on the lookout for an infection – you will notice burning, pain, redness of skin, warmth and so on. Another possibility is a blood clot or some obstruction of the lymphatic vessel or a node in the area. You should see your doctor about it.

  • sabrina

    My 74 year old grandmother was just released from the hospital yesterday. She was admitted for pneumonia [due to aspirating] she has 30% lung function, 1 month ago had 3 stints in her heart and 1 in her leg, 2 days ago she had a portacath placed in her right juglar. They decreased her lasix from 20mg every day to 20mg every other day due to progressive kidney failure. They didn’t send her home with a foly. She turns a dark red/almost purple when she tries to get up to use her bedside. Also has a weeping place on her left leg that has been running constantly for 2 days – the hospital didn’t send any sterile bandage with us. She hasn’t been running a temp but has had diarreah every 1-3 hours since yesterday[while in the hospital]. They switched her antibiotics to Zyvox. I was wondering if the change in antibiotics would cause the worsening of diarreah and also she has severe swelling in her left arm also in her hand and fingers. She does have CHF and I assume the fluid building up isn’t helping that any. She is also a diabetic on prednisone. Any help will be much apperciated.

  • Tonya

    I have been suffering from a bite or some kind of infection for about a month. At first it was a small circular rash type with little bumps with fluid surrounding it. It went away after two weeks and then a couple of days later the bumps reappeared around the edges. After the reappearance, I went to a clinic last Tuesday. I got antibiotics: Sulfameth/Trimethoprim. I have been taking them twice daily, but it seems to have gotten worse. Now, I have small itchy bumps on the along the inside of my forearm and today I woke up with swelling from my elbow to my wrist. I took some ibuprophen to hopefully reduce the swelling.
    I have about 5 more days to take the pills, but they don’t seem to be doing anything. I’m worried that this infection will keep traveling..sigh.

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi Sabrina

    Yes, the diarrhea could be due to the antibiotics. This is known as antibiotic associated diarrhea where prolonged use of antibiotics affect the normal bacteria in the gut. Some of these good bacteria overgrow and affect bowel activity. The swelling can be due to the heart and kidney failure but it may also be due to a blood clot in the left arm from IV needle use – drips, blood removed for tests and so on. You should contact her doctor to discuss these issues further. Her condition is obviously fragile at this stage any any complications or new symptoms should not be left unattended as it can have dire consequences if not managed appropriately.

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi Tonya

    It is important to identify the type of rash. There are many infectious causes that may not be due to bacteria and could even be a systemic infection that causes this type of rash. In addition, it may be due to allergic or autoimmune causes. You need to see your doctor again now that there is swelling of the arm even though you have not completed the course of the antibiotics. I would advise that you do not delay any further and if you are not getting the proper attention from your doctor, you should seek a second opinion. Blood tests, starting with a complete blood count (CBC), will be required at this point. Your history prior to the appearance of these symptoms may allow your doctor to identify a possible cause.

  • katie

    hi dr. chris!

    i’m 22 and i work in kitchens. for the past couple years i’ve been suffering from what i suspect is tendonitis. occasionally my hands (usually my knife-hand) will cramp up while i’m working, and my fingers will be stuck in odd positions for maybe 30 seconds. (sometimes it hurts and sometimes it doesn’t at all.) anyway, it’s been acting up recently, and i woke up this morning with intense searing pain in my hands/forearms, and swelling in the hands/wrists. because it’s been so off and on i haven’t seen my doctor about it, but it’s never woken me up like that before. i took ibuprofen and it went away pretty quickly.

    other than trying to limit the use of my hands when possible and taking antiflammatories when necessary, is there anything you might suggest i try? any advice is much appreciated!!!

  • sara

    hi Doctor,

    I am 26 female, single. I have developed swelling on my hands and wrist since one month. It happens when I wake up in the morning and it disapears after 5-6 hours and sometime it didn’t. I am healthy not taking any medication except Raccotane (for acne). Please help I am so worried

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi Katie

    It may very well be tendonitis or a contracture. Of course this can be related to overuse due to the strain associated with your line of work. However, it may be linked to more serious neuromuscular conditions. You should have this investigated. Anti-inflammatories may provide symptomatic relief, in terms of the pain, etc., for a short period of time but this is not the answer. See your doctor, exclude more serious conditions and consider a wrist brace as well if necessary.

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi Sara

    One month is a long period of time to be experiencing a swelling of this nature. The fact that you mention swelling but there is no pain or tingling coupled with your age makes many possible causes, like circulatory conditions less likely but not impossible. You should take note that the medication you are using has a host of severe side effects with swelling being one of them. Since it is affecting both your hand simultaneously indicates a systemic rather than localized cause. You need to see your doctor about it.

  • Justin

    Hi,

    I am a 27 year old male, in athletic physical condition. I recently began having pain in my elbow, most likely caused by over use from several hours of computer work, and i saw the doctor at work and they said tendinitis, which is what i believe it to be as well. The doctor gave me a compression/arm wrap, that slides over my arm and has a Velcro strap to tighten around the elbow to alleviate the pain in my elbow. It does help a lot in conjunction with the Advil and the exercises, even after only two days. But when i wear the item it causes my arm to swell from the front of the brace to the hands and fingers, and even after i take the brace off the arm still stays swollen to the point that it looks like i gained 20 pounds overnight, hiding all of the veins that are normally there and distinctly different in appearance. Is this just a result of poor circulation for extended times while wearing the brace? How long should it take from my arm to return to normal appearance after removing the brace?

    Thanks,
    Justin

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi Justin

    From what you say, it is very likely related to use of the brace. If you are able to alter the tightness, try not to strap it on too tightly. This can impede blood and lymph flow. However, removing the brace and moderate movement should allow the swelling to settle quickly. However, if you notice spontaneous swelling, not related to the use of the brace, you need to speak to your doctor about other possible causes which may also be responsible for the elbow pain.

    The length of time for which you need to use the brace may vary – usually once the symptoms settle, you can use the brace for shorter periods or stop altogether provided that you do not strain the arm. This can be anywhere from a few days, especially if you use the medication as prescribed to 1 to 3 weeks, or possibly even longer. It just depends on the severity of the condition and how well you respond to treatment. Speak to your doctor about it.

  • Zoey

    Hello!
    I’m a 23 years old female and my arm is swollen from fingers to shoulder and there is no apparent reason, I have not injured the arm and I did go see a doctor but he pretty much told me to Google it. It’s not in any pain but the muscles do feel a bit weaker in the swollen arm (right arm) than in the other one (left obviously) that is fine. I’ve tried putting on some gel that is supposed to help with inflammation but it hasn’t done anything for the arm. The muscles on my neck and shoulder area are sore too, could this have something to do with the arm? Somebody told me it’s possible the veins and nerves going from my shoulder to my arm are somehow pressed down on but they couldn’t tell me what to do about that. If that is the cause should I consider surgery?
    Thanks,
    Zoey

  • Kimberley

    Hello,

    I’m a 20 year old female with heart disease and lupus in my family history. I am 30 lbs overweight, and my blood pressure is always unusually low, but otherwise I’m in excellent health and have no other problems. I’ve been tested for lupus at age 15, and it has been negative.

    My hands sometimes swell up painfully when I restrict the bloodflow a little (such as carrying grocery bags or a backpack), and when I exercise (such as jogging) the tops of my legs go red and swell as well. The swelling usually doesn’t go down immediately, and my joints near the effected area are stiff and sore afterward.

    Is this strongly related to my family history of heart disease and lupus? Or might this seem indicative of another problem? Thank you for your time.

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi Zoey

    Both weakness and swelling does raise the concern about compression, not so much of the blood vessels, but rather the lymphatic vessels. These are small tubes that carry tissue fluid back into the bloodstream. Lymph nodes, which are enlarged parts of these vessels where the lymphatic fluid is filtered, may also be the cause of the obstruction. You may notice this as a tender enlarged lump.

    A blood clot in the arm should not have occurred in somebody of your age unless you had an IV drip setup or numerous IV injections, which can cause a clot or collapse of the blood vessel.

    It is important to undergo further investigation to try to isolate any mass that may be compressing the nerve and/or lympathic vessels. Your doctor may consider an ultrasound, x-ray, MRI etc. The lack of pain may mean that it is not an inflammatory response and the anti-inflammatory gel may therefore not work. Avoid other types of muscle rubs because some can increase blood flow to the area and aggravate the swelling. It is advisable to see your doctor again or visit an orthopedist for further assessment.

  • Dr. Chris

    HI Kimberley

    This appears to be venous insufficiency where blood is not leaving the area efficiently for whatever reason. Yes, it can be an early sign of heart disease although given your age, this may be unlikely even though there is a strong family history. It is nevertheless possible and more so because you are overweight. It could also be related an autoimmune condition and this may be the initial signs and symptoms. Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and other connective tissue diseases may be responsible. Speak to you doctor about it. Remember that when you strain any area, especially if you are not a fit person, swelling is quite likely. But a visit to your doctor would be a good idea.

  • Martinwylde

    Hi there I have severe pain in my lower arm and elbow on my left side I have not injured it in any way and it just started up without any notice It has been like this for over a day now I have been using ibuprofen gel to mask the pain but it doesn’t last very long there is also swelling around the elbow and wrist areas and numbness at times and muscular weakness
    Is there any ideas you have about what it could be

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi Martinwylde

    While you may have not injured it, it is possible that you strained both joints (elbow and wrist) in some activity, and possibly the muscles are also strained. This would account for the pain and swelling of the joints. It is difficult to say what it could be without knowing your history or examining it. You should see a doctor. Of course there are various other possibilities but since this has just been for a day and of sudden onset, it is most likely due to strain.

  • Lauren

    Hi Doctor,
    I’m a 24 yr old female in reasonable shape. In May I partook in a silly fitness challenge (too many pushups having not done any at all) and had rhabdomyolysis in my right arm, DOMS, and perhaps slight compartment syndrome. When I spend a lot of time on the computer, my right hand gets very swollen, all the way up to my shoulder. There’s a slight dull pain as well. I saw an orthopedic surgeon after I was treated for the rhabdo, and he just pressed my arm and told me to ice and elevate it and charged me exorbitant amounts of $ for it.

    Anyway, I’m wondering if my present symptoms are related to the rhabdo injury, or if it’s something new entirely (like Carpal Tunnels? or tendonitis in my elbow??) and what I can do to mitigate the symptoms. My fingers on my right hand are significantly more swollen than on my left, and my knuckles are obscured by the swelling. I also have to expend a lot more effort to grip things with my right hand than with my left.

    I would appreciate any feedback very very much!! Thank you so much :)

    L

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi Lauren

    Carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis and so on would not cause such significant swelling of the fingers. Rhabdomyolysis is quite a severe condition and it is quite likely that the symptoms you are experiencing now is related to it. There are other musculoskeletal conditions that could also be present but may have been missed thus far. You do need to see an orthopedic surgeon and if you are not satisfied with your current practitioner, seek another preferably by asking your family doctor (GP) for a referral. I don’t think that any advice that we could offer you would be of much help at this point. Please consult with your doctor as soon as possible.

  • Nikki

    Hi Doctor,

    My mother is in her 4oth,since last year she discovered that she is a high blood pressure patient.she was on medical treatment to reduce the high blood pressure,but recently she has stopped taking the pills as she no longer get the high blood pressure symtoms.she has also started going to gym, but recently during exercises her hands swell a lot and swells more at the left one than the right one.Some days back she also got a mild chest pain.As a science student I suspect heart problems,can you please tell me the other possibilities and the requirements that should be taken,thank you Doctor.

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi Nikki

    Although I don’t know you mother’s case, it is VERY UNLIKELY that her hypertension (high blood pressure) has resolved. Your mum cannot judge her blood pressure based on symptoms. Hypertension is a silent disease most of the time. Exercise, diet and so on is helpful but in your mother’s age group, the hypertension is persistent (probably for the rest of her life) and in most cases, stopping the medication is not an option. Most cases of hypertension in this age group is chronic meaning that it has to be treated over the long term. She may be experiencing cardiac related problems and she should see a doctor immediately. She is risking her health and possibly her life by having stopped her hypertension medication without her doctor’s approval.

  • RUBY

    My 85 year old mom fractured her arm near her wrist. She had her arm in a cast. After it was removed, her hand is still VERY swollen. Also, thumb movement causes severe pain. Is this normal? Thanks so much!

  • adixon

    Hi,

    Question about my auntie she has pain in the neck and shoulder from her arm being swollen from her finger all the way up to her shoulder. She has seen the Dr. they did all kind of test, xray’s, ct scan, nerve testing etc. and so far the doctor have not diagnose her arm. she wears a sling everyday for a year now and the swelling of the arm is still there. I think the pain in her neck and shoulder is from her arm being swollen and heavy. She is unable to hold her own arm up, she has to use her other hand to move her other arm around, no strength at all in her arm. Please help

  • konop

    Im a 20 year old male, about two weeks ago I sprained my thumb playing football one week later the army doctor decided to put me in a cast up to my elbow its been about six days in the cast now and out of no where my arm started to swell I was just wondering if I should be worried or could it just be somthing simple.Not on any medication and recently stopped all physical activity (i.e. lifting, puch ups, sit ups, running)

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi Ruby

    Swelling following removal of the cast is not unusual. It should settle within a few days to a week plus. However, given your mother’s age, healing may not be complete and swelling, pain and even limited mobility may be present for life. If it is very swollen, warm to touch and there is redness, try to take her to a doctor as soon as possible as it may be an infection.

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi Adixon

    Although you may be reporting your aunt’s case to the best of your ability, you may be missing pertinent points here and this is why third party reports can be confusing. Your aunt needs to see a doctor herself, preferably an orthopedic surgeon/orthopedist. The reason for the swelling needs to be ascertained and there is no reason why it should be so swollen and immobilized in a sling for such a long time without any cause having been identified. Yes, the neck and shoulder problem may be due to the arm but first focus on identifying the cause of the arm problem. You may be unaware of certain facts of this case and therefore your aunt needs to seek medical advice and treatment.

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi Konop

    Moderate swelling after immobilization of a limb does occur. But you have to be cautious if it is turning red, becoming warm to the touch and more painful. Especially if you have a fever as well. This may indicate an infection. However since you are concerned, it may be a good idea to go back to the doctor and report the swelling.

  • HLOwens

    Hello, I am a 30 year old white female in good health. Here’s my issue that I’m praying you can help me with:

    Sunday 11/28/10: I visited the local ER for gross hematuria for the past 72+ hours; temp 99.1 in ER; diagnosed with UTI (1+ bacteria in urine as well as gross hematuria); prescribed Cipro & begin taking Cipro same day

    Tuesday 11/30/10: Woke up feeling extremely ill (sick) & this feeling lasted the entire day; I slept 75-80% of the day; I was extremely nauseated & had to take Phenergan several times throughout the day; Strangely, I discovered a large bruise with a white center (and a knot/lump within the white center) on the inside of my left forearm Tuesday evening while getting ready for bed. The bruise and knot/lump were absolutely PAINLESS at the time of discovery. And I know that I did NOT suffer any injury whatsoever the day the bruise was discovered or the days prior.

    Wednesday 12/1/10: I became extremely nauseated after dinner when I took Cipro pill; I was so sick that I had to go to bed for the rest of the night. I related this nausea on both Wednesday evening & all day Tuesday to stem from me beginning Cipro for UTI. **I completely stopped taking Cipro after getting sick on this night. Took a total of 7 pills altogether from 11/28-12/1.)

    Thursday 12/2/10: Visited local walk-in physician’s clinic & showed this unexplained bruise with a white center & knot to the nurse practitioner on duty. He immediately diagnosed it as a spider bite & ordered a CBC, which came back completely normal.

    Friday 12/3/10: I noticed my left arm felt a little swollen from wrist to elbow when I got up that morning; the minor swelling quickly resolved; I had a slight muscle ache on TOP of forearm by the end of the day.

    Saturday 12/4/10: My arm was swollen again upon waking up; the swelling, once again, resolved itself; However, it began to swell again that evening and it started to become sore, like a muscular soreness, from my wrist to my elbow.

    Sunday 12/5/10: Arm was swollen upon getting up for the day and the swelling really didn’t subside throughout the day. My arm hurt for most of the day – the pain was deep set, like bone pain. I also noticed that my face & neck looked puffy & slightly swollen.

    Monday 12/6/10: Upon getting out of bed, I see that my left arm is obviously swollen and feels very “tight” when my wrist and/or elbow is bent. I cannot remove wedding band, which is how I know my fingers are swollen as well. My arm has been very weak & shaky all day; the weakness progressed and was much worse by night’s end. There is pain that radiates from my fingertips up to my shoulder & all the way through to my left shoulder blade on my back (feels like a deep bone pain; sometimes it can feel like sharp, stabbing pains). I’ve also been suffering with tingling (pins and needles feeling) from my fingertips all the way up to my shoulder blade. My arm, hand & shoulder occasionally feel as if they are burning deep inside (not on the surface). Temp had been no higher than 99.0 the entire day.

    *************
    From the initial discovery of this large unexplained bruise with white center & knot on 11/30 to now (12/7/10), there has been NO redness on any part of my arm, hand or shoulder. There no blisters or pimples or bumps that look as if they could be popped. Although it’s been a week since I first saw it, the bruise & it’s white center w/knot is still present though the black & blueness is not quite as “bright” as it was on 11/30/10.

    What on earth could I suddenly be suffering from???? While I’ve had UTI’s in the past & have taken Cipro for them before, I have NEVER experienced an unexplained bruise with NO injury, along with the swelling, weakness, tingling, etc. that I’ve encountered over the past 7 days.

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi HLOwens

    An infection would be the most likely explanation but strangely enough your CBC came back normal. I would advise that you see a doctor who will most likely repeat the CBC. The knot may be an abscess or even a swollen lymph node. A bite (due to the tiny bump) was a reasonable assumption. Repeated UTIs are not common in males of your age unless it is related to a prostate problem, repeated bladder stones or an STD (sexually transmitted disease). It is difficult to say much just on the information you provided without further testing. The fact that you had no injury is also a cause for concern because this could be a systemic infection. You need to see a doctor who will follow through with the relevant tests.

  • rick1971

    I woke up one morning and my hand had no feeling in it. All my fingers where asleep. I shook them out and then my middle finger started hurting like a pain I never felt before. My right hand and forearm where both swollen. Finally after 20 minutes my feeling came back. When I got to work I noticed on the bottom left side of my wrist just below my palm there was a soft lump just smaller than a golf ball. Had vascular ultra sound to check for clot, none. Went to see a Ortho surgeon and he said it wasn’t a cyst. I have a hard time writing my name without all fingers going numb and cramping up. You can see my fingers cramp up and move to the side where they feel stuck for a moment. Now as you go down my wrist just past the lump there is another section that is puffing up but it’s rectangle looking and looks like they both are changing color to a greenish tint. what could it be?

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi Risk1971

    Your symptoms appear to be related to a problem with the circulation in the arm but the most likely cause of the sudden onset would have been a clot and this has been excluded. The other possibility for the lump is a swollen lymph node (lymphadenopathy) and possibly even lymphadenitis. However this would not be causing the “greenish tinge” that you are seeing. You should go back and see your doctor. An MRI may be worth considering at this point.

  • chronos1015

    I am a 28 year old mother of 8 week old twins. Recently my fingers (thumb & index, middle, & ring) have swollen some and gotten very tingly/numb. I recently had to remove my rings. I did not have much swelling aside from the very end of my pregnancy, but was very swollen after delivery for maybe 2 weeks. I have a family history of carpal tunnel, but did not have it myself (was tested twice prior to pregnancy due to frequent hand/arm pain). I have previously seen a Rhuematologist and been tested for RA, Lupus, etc. All tests came back clear. I have been diagnosed with myofascial pain syndrome and arthritis in my hands. I am breastfeeding and saw that breastfeeding and holding babies can cause carpal tunnel symptoms in new moms. The symptoms may have coincided with an increase in the amount of breastfeeding I was doing, I am not sure. Would that account for the minor swelling of my fingers as well? Is there anything I can do to help relieve symptoms until I decide to discontinue breastfeeding (which will probably be several to many months)? I have asthma, hypothyroidism, respiratory allergies, & raynaud’s. I am not usually experiencing pain or a lot of temperature variance in my hands like I did pre-pregnancy. I have lost 20 of the 40 lbs I put on while pregnant – am 5’2″ and weigh 145 lbs currently.

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi Chronos

    It is unlikely that the carpal tunnel syndrome, if present, would be responsible for this swelling given that you have other more likely causes present. Arthritis (you do not specify what type) and the hypothyroidism may be responsible. An allergic disposition means that you are prone to developing localized allergic reactions that causes transient swelling that you describe – of course, some skin rash and possibly itching would also have been present. You say you previously saw a rheumatologist and it depends on how long ago that was. You may need to undergo some of those tests again. For now, you should speak to your doctor and possibly consider seeing an endocrinologist (a medical specialist dealing with hormone related disorders).

  • chuy

    1st day at my new job I pack chicken boxes in crates after work that night I have severe pain from my elbows down so much that I didn’t sleep that night what could it be its also my first time ever working a real job

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi Chuy

    This sounds like muscle strain and given that there is a clear cause (sudden, strenuous, physical activity) there is no reason to suspect any other more serious cause. It should take anywhere from a few days to a week or more. Your body should adapt over time and the pain will subside. Your ability to do more strenuous work will also increase. Speak to your doctor though, just to be sure that there is no other underlying cause.

  • ConcernedJoe

    Recently, my bicept became swollen…I decided to wait it out to see if it would just get better…now 6 days later, the swelling has gone down to my wrist, making my entire left arm unbendable, and not able to move it at all…it it hot to touch, VERY painful, and feels like my arm is about to explode…someone help :(

  • Karen Lee

    Hello Dr. Chris,

    My father-in-law was admitted to the hospital last night with severe pain in his right arm which had now swollen up along with his right foot. He has had an episode like this before (as recently as several weeks ago) and at that time his doctors were thinking it could be either Gout or RA. They finally concluded that he had some sort of infection in his blood and sent him home with pills (25 a day, to be exact). The pain and swelling eventually went away, but now it’s back and just as bad. He is a lung cancer surviver and recently had a stent put in on the right side of his heart to bypass a blockage. He also suffers from severe back pain which he had no problems with until after this last surgery. The doctor’s still can’t figure out what’s causing his swelling or pain. Any idea’s on what might be happening?

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi ConcernedJoe

    Hopefully you have already sought medical attention. This may be an infection or a blood clot which could be progressing and needs to be examined by a doctor IMMEDIATELY. Please do not waste any time in seeking medical attention if you have not already done so as the infection could spread to other parts of your body, apart from your limb, with dire consequences.

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi Karen Lee

    There is a good chance that the infection either recurred or never resolved in the first place. Of course, there is always the possibility that his cardiac condition or even a related kidney disorder is contributing to this but the one-sided swelling is a concern and needs to be investigated closely as an infection can quickly progress and be life-threatening. Speak to his doctor about this and ensure that he is being monitored by a medical specialist. This is a delicate time given his history and any severe symptom needs immediate medical attention.

  • Epona NP

    @ConcernedJoe I hope you have received medical attention
    The symptoms you list could be attributable to a few serious
    conditions like compartment syndrome if you had trauma to the arm,
    phlebitis possibly from a blood clot (dvt), cellulitis, or a
    # of other conditions. When there is sufficient edema to
    impede movement damage to tissues, nerves, and blood vessels could
    occur. Redness, pain, swelling that doesn’t improve with rest and
    immobilization, increasing pain and edema (swelling) that spreads
    or has no known cause should be cared for by a medical professional.
    Also numbness and tingling with prolonged edema and impaired movement
    needs emergency medical attention. [EDITED]

    * Note from editor : Please refrain from giving medical advice and mentioning brand names of drugs. Readers often use this advice as a means to delay seeking medical attention by managing a condition within the home environment. This has medico-legal implications for our publication. Thank you for your input.