Causes of Arm Pain – Right and Left Hand, Upper Limb

Arm pain may be due to many causes, ranging from s simple injury to more complex causes like the arm pain arising from a heart attack (myocardial infarction). While the arm is only one section of the upper limb, the area between the shoulder and elbow joint, the entire upper limb is commonly referred to as the arm or hand. In order to determine the cause of arm pain, it is important to identify any incidents that preceded the onset of the pain and take into consideration the medical history. This will allow for a more definitive diagnosis of the cause of the arm pain, although this is a common symptom that affects many of us at some point in our life.

Joint Pain

Arthritis is a generalized term referring to inflammation of a joint and the symptoms most commonly produced are pain, swelling, and restricted joint mobility. There are various types of arthritis, including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, the latter being more likely to cause arm pain.

  1. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease which leads to the inflammation of the joints and surrounding tissues. It may occur at any age, with women being affected more often than men. Joints of the fingers, wrist, knees, ankle and feet are likely to be involved. There is usually bilateral (both sides) involvement of joints, occurring in a symmetrical pattern causing joint pain and stiffness. Rheumatoid factor test, or a specific blood test to diagnose rheumatoid arthritis and differentiate it from other types of arthritis, called the anti-CCP antibody test, may be done to confirm the diagnosis.
  2. Osteoarthritis is a slow progressing, degenerative joint disease, which occurs more frequently in older people. It may be limited to or start in one joint, such as the knee, hip, or hands, or it may involve a number of joints. If it affects the hands, multiple joints of the fingers are likely to be affected. Osteoarthritis may be hereditary, or it may be due to repetitive actions or overuse, injury, or muscle strain.

Gout is a disorder where there are high levels of uric acid in the blood and tissues. Uric acid crystals are deposited in the joints, causing gouty arthritis, which can be an extremely painful condition. It normally affects the big toe, but may also affect the wrist and fingers, causing swelling, redness, and severe pain in the fingers and wrist joints.

Referred Pain & Nerve Pain

Referred pain is pain felt in one area of the body when the actual cause is in some other part. The exact cause of referred pain is not known but may be due to signals from different areas of the body traveling through the same nerve pathways in the brain and spinal cord. Nerve pain or neuropathic pain is the pain experienced along the course of the nerve due to injury, inflammation or degeneration of the nerve. Nerve compression or pinched nerve pain is an example of neuropathic pain.

Heart attack (myocardial infarction) causes left or right arm pain.
  • Myocardial infarction or a heart attack typically causes chest pain (sometimes described as a breast bone pain)  although other symptoms may accompany this medical emergency, including upper middle abdmoinal pain (epigastric pain), sweating, nausea, vomiting, or pain in the jaws, neck, or the characteristic left arm pain, although there may be referred pain in the right arm. Early diagnosis is vital because heart attack with even mild symptoms may become life-threatening, hence the possibility of a heart attack should always be kept in mind in case of pain in the arm with or without chest pain. An ECG (electrocardiogram) and blood tests for cardiac enzymes must be done on the slightest suspicion that a heart attack is occurring so that a quick diagnosis and appropriate medical treatment can be initiated.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition which develops due to compression of the median nerve as it passes through the carpal tunnel at the wrist. It gives rise to symptoms of pain and paresthesia (arm numbness and tingling or  “pins and needles” sensation) along the distribution of the median nerve , which includes the nerves supply to the thumb, index, middle, and half of ring finger.
  • Radial tunnel syndrome is caused by the compression of the radial nerve in the forearm, leading to pain along the distribution of the radial nerve in the hand. The symptoms are similar to those of tennis elbow, such as pain at the back of the forearm and elbow.
  • Cubital tunnel syndrome occurs due to compression of the ulnar nerve at the elbow. Prolonged flexion of the elbow or leaning on the elbow for a considerable time can produce this syndrome, causing pain and numbness along the distribution of the ulnar nerve, especially in the ring and little finger.
  • Cervical radiculopathy or pinched neck nerve may occur due to a damaged intervertebral disc in the cervical or neck region of the vertebrae and may be the cause of hand pain. Depending upon the severity of nerve damage, there will be symptoms such as tingling and numbness, “pins and needles” sensation, or burning pain in one or both arms. Refer to the article on Pinched Neck Nerve.
  • A cervical rib is an extra rib, just above the first rib, that may be present at birth. It may cause arm pain if it presses upon the brachial plexus, which is a bundle of nerve fibers that controls muscle movements and sensation of the shoulder, arm and hand.
  • Phantom pain is a type of neuropathic pain which arises from an amputated body part, such as a leg or arm. Although initially thought to be a psychological phenomenon (psychogenic pain), this sensation is now understood to originate from the brain and spinal cord. Phantom pain in the amputated arm can start within a few days of amputation of the hand, either due to trauma or surgery,  and may be experienced as a shooting, stabbing, squeezing, or throbbing type of pain. This pain may seem to originate from the distal (farthest) part of the amputated arm, such as the fingers, and may be initiated by emotional stress or pressure on the remaining part of the hand.

Breast Pain

Breast pain may occur due to many causes and it can travel down to involve the arms and hands. Since chest pain radiating down to the arms can be a symptom of angina or myocardial infarction, and may be confused with arm pain caused by breast problems, it is important to differentiate between the conditions so that proper treatment can be initiated without loss of time.

  1. Cyclic breast pain typically starts about a week before the menstrual period and gradually decreases with the onset of menstruation. Pain is bilateral (in both breasts), dull and aching in nature, and often radiates down to the armpit or inner side of both arms.
  2. An infection in the breast (mastitis), if left untreated for long, may spread to other areas such as the armpit and upper arms and result in arm pain. Typically, swollen lymph nodes will be noted in and around the affected area.
  3. In the initial stages, breast cancer may not produce any symptoms of pain, but in later stages, with the development of a palpable lump in the breast, pain may be felt in the breast itself, the armpit and/or along the arm. Breast cancer can also cause severe pain in the arms by affecting the nerves in the spinal cord or by spread of cancer to the lymph nodes around the nerves.
  4. Breast cancer patients who have had axillary (armpit) surgery often suffer from chronic pain in the armpit, shoulder and upper arm and this pain seems to be related to the extent of the axillary surgery.


Ganglion is a small swelling or cyst that develops from the tissue lining a joint or tendon. The cause is usually unknown, but may sometimes be due to a local trauma to the joint or tendon. Recurring or persisting ganglion could be an early sign of arthritis. A ganglion is commonly found at the back or front of the wrist and symptoms may include a slow growing cystic swelling, which may or may not be painful, along with mild pain at the wrist.

Tendon Disorders

A tendon is the thick cord of tissue which connects a muscle to a bone. Arm pain may be caused by tendonitis (inflammation of a tendon) or tenosynovitis (inflammation of the lining of the tendon sheath which encloses the tendon). Rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, overuse, injury, strain, or overexertion may lead to tendonitis or tenosynovitis, most often affecting the fingers or wrist, and causing symptoms such as swelling, pain or discomfort.

  • Tennis elbow or lateral epicondylitis is a frequent cause of arm pain and is caused by damage of the tendons involved in bending the wrist backwards, away from the palms. There may be recurring pain at the back of the forearm and elbow when the arm is at the side of the body with the thumb turned away. Lifting or bending the arm or grasping even light objects may cause pain in the arm and/or hand.
  • Golfer’s elbow (baseball elbow) or medial epicondylitis is caused by damage of the tendons involved in bending the wrist towards the palm. This is another strain related condition causing arm pain which may be mistaken for tennis elbow, but in this case the pain is felt on the inner side of the forearm, extending from the elbow to the wrist.
  • Rotator cuff tendonitis is caused by inflammation of the shoulder capsule and associated tendons. There is usually a dull, aching pain in the shoulder which may radiate to the upper arm or chest, often getting worse at night. It may often occur due to overuse, such as during a sport or work related activity, which requires the arm to be lifted repeatedly, and will affect the dominant hand, example right shoulder in a right-handed person.
  • De Quervain’s tenosynovitis is the inflammation of the tendon sheaths on the thumb side of the wrist, causing pain and discomfort on trying to turn the wrist, grasp something, or when making a fist.
  • Trigger finger or trigger thumb is inflammation of the tendon sheath of a finger or thumb causing pain, swelling, and difficulty in flexing or extending the finger or thumb.


Injury to any part of the upper limb can result in pain and may continue long after the incident. Trauma may vary from soft tissue injury to breaks in the skin, muscle damage,  fractures of the bone or even loss of part of the arm. The cause of the injury is clearly evident and even after the area is treated or heals, pain may persist for months or years.

  • Muscle strain is the stretching or tearing of muscle fibers (torn muscle), often due to overworking a fatigued muscle, and occurs most frequently during sports activities. However, it may also occur while carrying out simple activities such as stepping off a curb or by carrying many heavy bags in the hand. Muscle strain in the hand will cause mild to severe pain in the affected arm along with swelling and decreased strength.
  • A sprain is an injury involving a tear or stretching of ligaments which arethe tough fibrous bands which connect bones to one another at a joint. A sprain in the hand may be caused by flexing the hand suddenly or by falling on an outstretched hand. It can occur by slipping and falling on the wrist or shoulder. Any unusual force across a joint can cause a sprain and often occurs during sporting activities. There will be pain, swelling, and instability of the joint.
  • Bursitis is the inflammation of the bursa, a small pouch between the bone and tendon. This can affect the elbow or shoulder joint and causes severe pain, without any loss in range of motion. Adhesive capsulitis or frozen shoulder is the inflammation of the capsule surrounding the shoulder joint. While both bursitis and a frozen shoulder can cause arm pain, in a frozen shoulder, the range of motion is severely restricted.
  • Fractures of one or more bones of the arm are among the most common types of fracture and may occur in all age groups. The severity of pain will depend on the type and site of fracture and other associated injuries.
  • Writer’s cramp is another type of arm pain commonly affecting the dominant hand, since this is the hand most often used for writing. It is caused by overuse of the hand in small fine movements, like writing, and may be due to the position of the hand during writing, gripping the pen, pencil or tool too tightly or continuous use or writing for long periods of time.


Cellulitis is a serious bacterial infection, which normally starts with infection of the skin, caused most often by Streptococcus pyogenes or Staphylococcus aureus (Refer to Staph Infection Symptoms). Bacteria usually penetrate the skin at the site of injury, such as a cut or puncture in the skin, and causes an infection, which then spreads to other tissues. This typically causes swelling, severe pain, heat or increased temperature of the skin and/or redness of the skin. Cellulitis is common in the hand as it is used for most activities, especially the dominant hand, so chances of injury and infection are high. Surgery on the arm or intravenous catheterization of a vein in the hand for the purpose of administering I.V. drugs or fluids may also become the initial site of infection leading to cellulitis.

Vascular Disorders

Raynaud’s phenomenon is a rare condition where there is extreme response of the blood vessels in the skin to a cold environment, resulting in severe constriction of the blood vessels (vascospasm), especially those of the fingers and toes. The affected skin turns white from loss of blood, then blue from lack of oxygen, and there is associated tingling and numbness. This phenomenon is temporary and reversible on applying warmth, which causes the skin to turn pink along with a throbbing sensation.

Psychogenic Pain

This type of pain arises from mental or emotional stress and is a perceived sensation that is usually not detectable even by a nerve conduction study. It typically occurs in persons with a type A personality, concerned about a heart attack, or in cases of anxiety, where a stressful incident may trigger the pain.

Please note that any information or feedback on this website is not intended to replace a consultation with a health care professional and will not constitute a medical diagnosis. By using this website and the comment service you agree to abide by the comment terms and conditions as outlined on this page

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  • colipraju

    I am suffering from right arm pain occasionally while performing morning walker,while about to sleep. it starts from upper arm biceps, triceps and gets down to lower arm muscle remains for 15 to 20 mins, after message with moov or some other ointment it subsides. Rising shoulder becomes becomes difficult. No problem in driving. normal course time while in office I wont feel it. I am a diabetic and using medidcines for BP, diabetis and heart. please advice

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Colipraju

      Some of these symptoms are possible side effects of your medication but another possibility is related to the heart as in angina. Refer to the article on heart chest pain. Given your history, this is not something you should ignore. An ECG stress test (stress ECG) is important here and you should see a cardiologist for this. Despite the fact that the pain eases and there may be no other symptoms, further medical investigation is most definitely warranted before a more serious condition strikes. Another possibility could be related to the position you sleep in or even the number of pillows you use. This could cause muscle spasm with referred pain down the hand or lead to a pinched nerve. Diabetic neuropathy/neuralgia (nerve pain due to diabetes) is another possibility but first exclude any heart related disorders.

  • Anbarasu.s

    good webpage

  • Frank

    Hi, My left arm started to ache several months ago. Top of the forearm. It has gotten worse every day since, so much that I couldn’t even use it yesterday without taking Tylenol. The bone hurts right at the top part of the elbow if I put my finger on it. There has been no injury. What could this be? I’m baffled and tired of the pain!

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Frank

      Sometimes the injury is not so obvious so you could have hurt bone unknowingly. This pain can also be related to a muscle tendon or even the nerves – ulnar or radial. Nerve inflammation would cause pain, numbness or tingling lower down the arm as well. First try to immobilize the arm or at least use it minimally. If the pain subsides, you know that it more likely to be muscle or tendon related. Also try to stop leaning on the hand and this may also stop pressing and irritating any nerves. You should get this checked up. See your doctor as soon as you can.

  • madmom

    I have had pain in my right upper arm for over 3 months. The pain is near the elbow in the back of my arm and in the front near the top of my arm. The pain does not shoot down the arm, but goes across. I have had 2 mri’s and they say I have a 12mm hyperacute lesion in the intramedullary of the humerous. The doctor won’t tell me what that means, except now I have to go get another mri with contrast. What is he looking for? What could it be? Thank you.

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Madmom

      Firstly I find it surprising that your doctor will not tell you what that means. Your doctor may wish not to comment on what may be suspected so as not to cause panic if you are the type of patient who get anxious or worked up about the differential diagnoses. However if you asked your doctor about the procedure, I am sure he/she will be glad to explain it to you.

      I cannot assume what your doctor may be looking for or not based purely on the information (which may have been limited) that you have provided. Your doctor may be suspecting metastatic bone disease or some other possibility. This can cause pain and may be a possibility if you have had cancer elsewhere. This is NOT to say that you have bone cancer. Please do not make that assumption. Follow what your doctor says, have the MRI and take it from there.

      It is important to realize that most doctors do not want to be boxed in about a diagnosis without confirming it first. Overzealous patients may get carried away initially, do something rash and turn around and lay a legal claim against the doctor because they (the patient) chose to hear and remember what they wanted. So doctors ensure that they are 100% sure before divulging information.

      Your doctor may be suspecting 2 or 3 possible diagnoses after the first round of tests and case taking. He/she has to now confirm or exclude diagnoses. So be patient, follow your doctor’s instructions and if you are not happy with the service you are receiving, go and see a specialist (orthopedist/orthopedic surgeon) in the field. Do not avoid tests, try to self diagnose or ‘hop’ between doctors unnecessarily.

  • Mayuri

    i had weird kind of pain in my left arms, the dr gave me neurobine forte and fastum gel to be applied. the pain went away. on stopping the medicines a similar kind of pain has stated in my right arm. the pain is wierd. its like the muscles are being pulled and relived. it occurs after intervals. pls advice. as per the dr, he advised that its due to damaged tissues. many thanks

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Mayuri

      There are many possible causes and you don’t mention much about yourself – your age, gender, past medical history and so on. First muscle strain should be excluded. You may be straining one arm more than the other due to some physical activity which could be causing this and this will change sides as you compensate for the pain. Another condition that should be investigated is neurological causes due to some pathology in the spinal column. More importantly though, you will need further tests to exclude neuromuscular conditions, many of which can be degenerative – I will not go into it here so that you don’t get too stressed by these possibilities. Rather speak to your doctor and preferably see a neurologist. Lastly, it is important to remember that many heart, lung and breast related conditions could cause arm pain.

  • carter64

    i am 46 years old and have pain in my upper right arm it only hurts when extended either over my head or around my back the doctoer gave me exersices for rotator cuff but it isnt my sholder that hurts was i wrongly diagnosed?

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Carter

      We cannot conclusively say whether you condition was incorrectly diagnosed or not without knowing all the facts of your case. However any condition affecting the rotator cuff muscles can cause upper arm pain. If you are unhappy with the diagnosis and measures taken by your doctor, you should seek a second opinion.

  • Carol

    I am 34 yrs old female. Married with 4 kids. Lately i’m having bad hand pain. it starts from upper arm biceps, triceps and gets down to lower arm muscle. The pain is like some wound in my muscle. mostly i have the pain at night. I have frequent neck pain and neck sprain and all. dr gave me neurobine and flanil cream to be applied.

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Carol

      There are many causes of arm pain and since you have noticed that it seems to be related to the muscles, it could be due to poor posture (neck pain extending down the arm) or due to muscle strain. Try to rest the arm, avoid carrying heavy weight and see a physical therapist for the appropriate treatment and some exercises. However, it is always advisable to investigate it further, especially if you notice other symptoms like numbness, chest pain, dizziness and a fever starting up. Even if it is due to a muscular cause, this will not settle overnight. Speak to your doctor if you are uncertain.

  • Cass

    I’m 28 and have had left breast pain for 3 years now. I had an ultrasound done 2 1/2 years ago and all looked “ok.” In the recent 6 months the pain has moved into my entire left side. mostly my shoulder, elbow, wrist, and ribs and left ovary. My hip and knee occassionally throb and most recently my left earlobe and neck shoot pain into my collarbone. Both my mom and Grandmother have had breast cancer. I feel like my Dr. is just pushing me aside because of my age. Please help!

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Cass

      This could be related to some breast pathology with referred pain to the other sites but could also be due to some neurological disorder like a pinched nerve. If you are not satisfied with the treatment you are receiving from your doctor, you should consider a second opinion. I would advise that you consult with a gynecologist and the see a neurologist if necessary. The fact that you have a family history of breast cancer does increase the risk but your doctor would not have ignored this. A mammogram should be done annually.

  • kate

    i went to a & e last weekend with on and of pain and numbness in my fingers and pain itching and burning all up my arm to my shoulder on the right side. They couldnt find a cause so discharged me. the next day it was worse and all down my right leg also so as instructed i went to an out of hours clinic, the doctor did pretty much the same tests then told me he thought it was just stress or all in my head. I have been back to work in the past 2 days (I have quite a physical job),I can finally after 5 days feel my fingers now and they hurt,so does my wrist and i keep gettin shooting pains in them along with my upper arm and right leg.

    • Jan Modric


      stress does not likely cause shooting pains. It is important that you compile all the history of your symptoms together:
      1. What is your main (one) current trouble?
      2. What are your other current symptoms?
      3. Do all symptoms appear only on the right side?
      4. When did the symptoms start, are they constant, what triggers or relieves them?

      Pinched nerves in the cervical and lumbar spine would be possible. Carpal tunnel syndrome, from overuse of the wrist(s), could be an additional problem. It is a neurologist that can give you a diagnosis.

  • mike75

    I am a 34 y.o. male with recent pain on my right wrist. It is like a sensitivity when I touch the skin near the medial side of my wrist it hurts. I’ve had no trauma to the forearm/wrist. Over the past week or so it has spread up my forearm about 4 inches. There is no erythema or edema. The only other problems I’ve had recently include episcleritis and HSV labialis outbreak on the lip. Wondering what this could be?

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Mike75

      Any wrist pain always raises the concern about carpal tunnel syndrome. However, given your history (episcleritis and HSV infection), it is important to exclude Behcet’s disease, which is one of the many types of vasculitis. Although this condition is rare, it nevertheless is something to consider as it may account for all your symptoms including the wrist pain, episcleritis and canker sores (HSV maybe). In addition, other autoimmune disorders may also account for some of your symptoms. A systemic infection may also be a possibility.

      Given your awareness of medical matters, I think you would be aware that an online platform such as this cannot adequately answer your question. Diagnostic investigation is necessary and this question-answer platform is intended to guide readers but not provide a conclusive diagnosis. You should see your doctor and possibly consult with a rheumatologist.

  • Patti

    I am a 48 year old woman and recently and suddenly I developped pain and heat in my upper arm area. It hurts to lift my arms … continued on

  • Jared

    I am a 21 year old male and usually very active. Four months ago after working out i woke up the next morning with a sharp pain in my tricep/armpit area. There was no bruising but it took about two weeks for that to mostly heal. Once it did I was left with tightness in my armpit and a constant ache in my left arm down into my hand. It has not gotten better with rest and the orthopedics I went to are not sure what it could be. There’s no pain when I use it the ache just intensifies. My arm and hand is also somewhat unsteady when I try to do refined movements, its not very obvious but it just doesn’t feel as steady as my right arm. Can this be nerve damage caused by pressure in my armpit? Thanks.

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Jared

      First you need to exclude muscle related conditions before suspecting any neurological conditions. Muscle strain can be responsible for most of your symptoms. Even strain of a single muscle/muscle group may causes these symptoms. Speak to your doctor and possibly see a physical therapist. Only if it can be conclusively ruled out that it is not muscular in origin, should a neurological cause be considered. Tingling, numbness or other strange sensations however may be an indicate of nerve irritation.

  • Teresa Faxon

    Hi as I am writing I am experiencing sever pain deep inside my left shoulder area or deep in armpit that shoots from the arm pit to the elbow from there to my fingers and hand area will go numb. I can feel a direct path from shoulder to hand.the pain is so bad I hold my arm and hand straight up inthe air for temporary relief. What should I do ?

    • Hi Teresa. There are several possible causes of such symptoms but given the pain and numbness, along with it extending all the way down the arm, it is very likely that this is a nerve related problem. Compression of the nerve root at the neck (a pinched nerve as it is commonly known) will often present with such symptoms.

      It has to be assessed by a doctor. It could simply be severe muscle spasm of the neck that is causing the vertebrae (spinal bones) to press on the nerve. Relieving the spasm and improving posture can help within a couple of days but physical therapy and muscle relaxants are also advisable. However, it could be more serious where one of the discs in between your vertebrae are compressed or worn out. This will need more intensive treatment, and possibly even surgery.

      Less commonly, your symptoms may be due to shoulder problems or circulatory problems in the hand. As you can see, the range of possibilities means that it needs to be assessed by a doctor before its gets worse.

  • Claudia

    Hi I am a 43 yr old woman and my youngest is 2 yrs old. Since I had him (cesarean) I’ve had really bad lower back pain. It has now spread to my hips, buttocks, shoulders, arms, elbows, wrists, hands, between the shoulder blades. Basically everywhere. This pain is sharp and radiating. The worst of my pain are in my hips, shoulders, & elbows. I feel that my body is being attacked inside. I can feel when a new area of pain is being affected. I’m in so much pain all the time. It hurts to do anything small or big. I feel weak & exhausted all the time. My doctor has tested me (through blood test) for autoimmune disease especially because my identical twin sister is diagnosed with myositis or polymyositis.. cant remember which. But my doctor said it came back negative. I’m so frustrated and so tired of this exhausting pain. All my life I’ve been super healthy and free of any kind of pain except if I was having a baby or stubbed my toe. Please help. I literally feel that I am deteriorating. 🙁

  • Melissa Fowler

    Help please?I am a 47 yr old female that has had severe pain, numbness, tingling pins and needles, burning and tearing sensations in all of my fingers for the past 6 or 7 months and my doctor told me it was the bulging disc in my neck. I had similar feelings in fingers before my surgery but without the burning and tearing sensation and NEVER THIS BAD. Could it be something else? I do have a ganglion cyst in both wrist but not large. Please HELP?

    • Hi Melissa. The surgery to correct a bulging disc will not always relieve all the symptoms. Some may take months to ease while others can still persist indefinitely. While ganglion cysts are typically painless, it can cause pain, tingling, burning and so on if the cyst is pressing on a nearby nerve. Surgery would be necessary if these symptoms are adversely affecting your life. It is advisable to return to the surgeon who did your surgery to ensure that no complications have arisen since the procedure.

  • Justin Foster

    OK so I don’t like doctors nor spending money on something that might go away but I have a cyst in my armpit of my right arm and I also have sever pain in my right shoulder witch in return makes my right arm go numb including my peck is this caused by the cyst or should I get it checked out again don’t like spending money and I do have a high pain tolerance.

    • Hi Justin. The ‘cyst’ in the armpit may or may not be related to this arm and shoulder pain, as well as the numbness. However, it is possible that they are connected. It is really difficult to say for sure. The ‘cyst’ could be something like folliculitis. The pain could be due to a pinched nerve, most likely at the level of the neck vertebrae.

      As you stressed, you don’t like doctors or the money involved in medical treatment but attempting to self diagnose can be extremely dangerous. Sometimes serious conditions may be missed in the early stages and by the time you get to a doctor there are complications or the condition becomes difficult to treat.

      We cannot diagnose you as per our comment policy and your symptoms has so many possible causes as you can see from the article above. It is difficult to say for sure what the cause can be. The reality is that you need to see a doctor.

  • Don

    I,m a 65 year old male. Walk on treadmill everyday for a mile,(heart doctors order). One day while on mill as I go to 3/4 mile both armpits and inner arms began to burn and hurt so much I had to quit. Each day was a 1/4 mile less till not walking on it at all. Pain at times unbearable and can last for a long time. Now I hurt across the back of neck and across shoulders as well.seemed to have no strength……..HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Hi Don. The biggest concern at the moment would be whether this pain is due to a heart condition. However, you may not need to be too concerned just yet as this sounds a lot like nerve root compression most likely emanating from the spine. However, it is always advisable to be cautious in your age group and see a cardiologist for further tests like a stress ECG. If all is clear then only consider other options like nerve root compression. Your doctor will be able to advise your further.

  • Barbie

    I am a 48 year old female. About 6 months ago I started having a terrible pain in my lower right rib cage. It finally let up and then I started having the same horrible pain in my left shoulder blade and keeps moving from spot to spot and is working its way around underneath my armpit. I am having tingling in my left elbow and fingers on my left hand. I am taking 800mg ibuprofen for the pain and it helps for a short time and the pain comes back within 4 hours of taking it.

    • Hi Barbie. You should be consulting with a neurologist at this point if you are not already doing son. While the pain and tingling in the different areas may be unrelated to each other, it is also likely that a single underlying condition may be contributing to it. It may not always be as ‘simple’ as a pinched nerve. There are some autoimmune conditions that affect the nerves which can start with symptoms like you mention. The other concern given you age is a TIA which are short episodes where blood is cut off to the brain. It can precede a stroke. Usually there are other symptoms like dizziness and one-sided tingling or numbness but it is nevertheless a possibility. Another concern for your age group and gender is the possibility of gallstones. As you can see there are several possibilities and it is difficult to say for sure just by the pain and no other accompanying symptoms. Your doctor will be able to advise your further.

  • theresa

    im 51 female and I have a pain in my left arm that started off like a vibration pain then shooting from wrist to elbow, I feel unwell, and its like I have fluid floatinf about in my forhead..

    • Hi Theresa. Pain alone with no other localized symptoms can be due to so many possible causes as you can see from the article above. Injury to the hand, joint diseases, neuromuscular conditions and so on may all cause these symptoms and sometimes it may be as simple as overuse and straining the arm. However, you don’t mention weakness, tremors or a loss of sensation in the area and along with your other symptoms (feeling unwell and sensation in your forehead) there is a possibility that the root cause does not lie in the arm.

      Your age does the raise the concern of cardiovascular conditions, particularly conditions where there is insufficient blood supply to the heart and brain. The lack of chest pain does not mean that you do not have conditions like coronary artery disease. Sometimes left arm pain, dizziness (or related symptoms) and malaise (general sense of being unwell) are the only symptoms. It could be the prelude to a heart attack.

      Silent heart attacks are not uncommon among women in your age group and in these instances there are no symptoms. Strokes are often preceded by weeks or months of TIAs (episodes where blood supply to the brain is momentarily restricted). It is advisable that you take these symptoms seriously. Speak to your family doctor and possibly get a referral to a cardiologist for further investigations like a stress ECG.

  • Diisa Laaee

    hi im 21 yrs. old and i’ve been experiencing chest pains in the sternum area, and i always put pressure with my fingers coz it hurts but then when i do it’ll hurt even more. Then i have this sharp pain in my medial upper right arm, its mild though but its always been bothering me coz this following weeks its been aching, maybe im a lil bit paranoid but mostly of my grandparents (including my grandparents siblings) died bcoz of heart attack.
    i hope atleast i can get some ideas if i need to go on a check up or something, thanks! more power!

    • Hi Diisa. Cardiac problems in your age group is rare but not entirely impossible. However, this is more likely to be a soft tissue problem rather than a heart condition. The fact that the arm pain intensifies when you apply pressure points towards injury, stran or inflammation of the muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints or skin. It really is difficult to say for sure but you should nevertheless consult with a doctor just to be on the safe side.

  • sally khan

    its been about 1month my upper right arm hurts to lift or drink from a cup is very difficult

    • Hi Sally. One month with this type of symptom is quite long and it would be advisable that you have it checked by a doctor. It could be a shoulder problem or even a nerve problem starting from the neck vertebrae. There are so many possibilities that need to be considered here. Pain on its own is difficult to diagnose. Your doctor would likely have to run additional tests to reach a diagnosis.

  • Jonny Markl

    I am 55 year old male dizziness bouts of profuse sweating.Pain in both arms and chest . also pain in upper stomach and a terrible whooshing noise in my ears.

    • Hi Jonny. Given you age and gender alone, these symptoms need to be investigated immediately. It could be a sign of coronary artery disease. While there are possibly other causes, heart problems would be the first focus for now. Only once it has been excluded then other possible conditions will be considered and investigated. Please visit your doctor ASAP and you may also need to see a cardiologist.

  • dave

    Hello I’m 40 years old and have for the last few weeks been getting a sharp pain from my elbow up to my armpit… Can this be caused by constantly holding up a PDA computer most of my 8 hr work shift as it only seems to happen when I’m doing this? Plus lately I have been getting headaches… One now for the last three days behind my right eye… Can these be connected in some way? Any help would be appreciated thanks!!!!

    • Hi Dave. Yes it could be related. These types of symptoms are common these days with the constant use of electronic devices and repetitive actions in the workplace. It is advisable that you see a neurologist in the event that there is some other underlying condition. The neurologist will advise you on the most appropriate course of treatment for your case.

  • Fathma Khairi

    My father is having pain in his left hand but he is not telling anyone about his pain but I can see his pain all the time he moves his left han up and down and lifts his hand up . Is this because of tension? His age is 52.

    • Hi Fathma. It may be muscular, bone or even joint related where the movement worsens the pain. He could have injured or overworked it. But the concern here given his age is that this could be related to heart problems. Left arm pain is common in certain cardiac conditions like angina or even a heart attack. There is no way of saying for sure until a doctor sees to it. Hopefully it is nothing serious but it is advisable that he seeks medical attention.

  • nazir

    My daughter is 18 years old. Pain has started in right wrist, after two days it is transferred to left shoulder and right palm And after two days now she is getting pain in back hip joint. Our doctor said it is a type of ortiritis and will be cured within 2 weeks. I want to know is it true



  • Teressa

    Hi,I am a 45 year old woman and I had a blood test done about 5 months ago, since than I have had severe pain in my arm.Starts in my elbow to my forearm. I was tested for blood clots which came back negative. I have tried heat and ice which only makes it hurt worse.The pain never goes away……please help!!!!

  • Martha

    Hi I am 56 year old in August 2015 had a heart

    surgey – after the surgey I had 3 fractures on my sternal now i have a pain on my right and left upper arm do you think this is related to my sternal fractures

    • Hi Martha. Yes, it could be related to the fractures and surgery. You do not mention the type of surgery you had but if it was ‘open heart’ surgery then this may occur. Your doctor would have provided you with a chest brace if necessary and hopefully you used this as prescribed. However, it is worth having your arm pain checked up just in case it is due to another condition that would then require separate treatment. Speak to your doctor.

  • Debbie

    my hands look all chapped had pits and blisters and clears the skin is getting all red with skin hanging never clear for more that a full day for over 6 mos,. problems using my right arm with pain in armpit and inner arm, down the arm and right side of breast to sore above rib cage and constant headaches. if I lay on my back with my shoulder blade flat i need help with my left hand to lift the right arm in order to sit back up, Ive had three fractured ribs in 5 mos. I have been to one walk in clinic, one emergency, 2 doctor appointmens of which they act like i am over reacting, I finally got a biopsy at a dermatologist on my hand yesterday waiting on reply, But I have to still work and my arm headaches, etc not getting any doctors to do much. blood work looked fine at emergency. No heart desease. I am lost at what to do. I have requested that my doctor get me scheduled for a MRI. but still have not heard anything. Is anyone else having these symptoms because I am seeing mine increasing. Also forgetting everything now and fatigue. Fatigue and forgetfulness and headaches I wonder if thats all from worry

    • Hi Debbie. You have a host of symptoms which may be related to more than one condition. Start with isolating the skin problem. As you said you have had a biopsy and once the dermatologist gets back to you with the rest you will have some direction as to the possible cause. You may also need to see a neurologist as some of the symptoms with your arm and the headaches could be due to a nerve problem. This could vary from a pinched nerve to neurodegenerative conditions and it is difficult to say with any certainty what could be causing all these symptoms. A neurologist would possibly be a good place to start.

  • CL forever

    Iam 23 years old i have a stabing pain in my left breast traveling down to my left arm involving both little and ring fingers i have pain while iam awake but during sleeping iam better. I did self breast test i have no lump i cant feel anything i dont have any tissue change or breast malformation my period is normal iam scared that i might have cancer because my aunt she had cancer and knew about it after 3 years of having it .what is this pain? Please answer as soon as possible

    • Hi CL. We cannot tell you what the cause of this pain is with any certainty. You should be speaking to your doctor about this. Even if you cannot feel any lump, it does not mean that a cancerous lesion is not present. However, there is no reason to worry about cancer just yet. There are many other causes and it may not even be linked to the breast. The only way to know for sure is to undergo the necessary investigations as your doctor will advise.

  • Ardit

    Helo! I’m 29. My pain is in my right side of the lower back, goes in to my lower abdomin olso recently up to my right sholder neck and tricesps. In all my right side of the back, but never down my belly or legs. Had an MRI and showed bolged disc at l5 s1 and the neurologist said not to worry the pain would go away itself. It’s been almost 2 years now and still in pain. What could it be?

    • Hi Ardit. The bulging disc could have worsened and surrounding discs may also be affected, therefore causing the pain at so many areas on just one side. Of course, there are also other possibilities that could account for some of the pain that you are experiencing, such as a kidney problem. However, it is difficult to say on just pain alone and you do not mention any other symptoms. 2 years is a long time since you were last assessed and you should see a doctor who can evaluate your condition again. This could be an entirely new problem.

      • Ardit

        Thanks a lot for your answer, but if the l5 s1 disc bolg would have worsened, why shulden’t the pain go down my legs or hurt more on my lower back instead of going up? And up that far to my sholder and neck on my right side?

        • Hi Ardit. As advised you should consult with your doctor. We cannot diagnose you here or say for sure what may be causing these symptoms. There are many other factors that have to be taken into consideration which depends on a medical professional assessing you. Relying on your current symptoms alone as you report it can be misleading.

  • J Mitchell

    Here’s my question: To begin with, I’m a checker at a grocery store. About 2 weeks ago, my right middle and ring fingers began to hurt when I would grab my customers items to scan them. Sometimes I couldn’t hardly put much pressure on the item when I picked it up. Making a fist became out of the question, I noticed. Now, the pain has almost traveled down my arm to my elbow. I’m in excruciating pain (my arm and elbow) when I pick up even a 32 oz bottle of milk. I can’t extend my right arm out straight, and I keep the whole arm as close to my body as possible. I’ll reach over with my left hand and pick up items I know I won’t be able to get with my right hand. I’ve been surviving on 440mg Naproxen twice a day. That’s just bare minimum. Still in lots of pain, but I can function at work and check. It seemed to come out of nowhere. Any ideas what could be causing this level of pain?

    • Hi J Mitchell. You may want to read up further on conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome and tenosynovitis. It is against our policy to attempt to diagnose online. We provide some guidance at most but ultimately you need to consult with a doctor who can assess you further and make a final diagnosis. Treatment will vary depending on the diagnosis. Of course, using the hand less will be beneficial in most conditions that causes these symptoms but this would be difficult for you to do in your occupation. A doctor will be able to advise you further. Please do not delay in seeking medical attention as the condition could worsen without prompt medical treatment.