Dull ache in arm


Dull ache in arm can be due to a variety of causes and due to the associated structures in the arm like skin, joints, nerves, muscles or even some types of pain are referred to the region of am and results in dull ache in arm. Dull ache in arm can be associated with tingling, numbness, discomfort. There are a number of causes for dull ache in arm ranging from a pinched nerve to some serious underlying disease. How to respond and react, when to worry and when to consult your doctor is discussed in the article. Continue reading the article and find the cause of dull ache in arm.

Contents discussed in the article:


Common causes of dull ache in arm



When to see a medical professional



Common causes of dull ache in arm

  1. Heart attack: Heart attack tends to happen when the arteries supplying the heart are blocked due to the deposition of fat and making the arteries narrow and compromising the blood flow to the heart which results in chest pain that is behind the sternum and pain in either arms and which comes on suddenly. Dull ache in arm and discomfort along with other symptoms mentioned below can warn you of a heart attack:
  2. Shortness of breath
  3. Chest pain (pressurizing)
  4. Sweats
  5. Dizziness
  6. Light headedness
  7. Vomiting
  8. Nausea

If you experience any of the above symptoms with dull ache in arm it can be life threatening and you need to seek immediate medical care.


  1. CAD (coronary artery disease): Coronary artery disease results when the arteries of the heart are occluded for any reason like atherosclerosis, thrombus and results in chest pain and dull ache in arm when the blood supply to the heart is compromised. If the pain gets severe and is accompanied with nausea and vomiting you may need to seek immediate medical care and attention.

Pain caused by CAD is called as Angina and is divided into two types as: Stable and Unstable angina.

Stable angina is a condition caused when the heart demand and supply of rich blood to the heart is compromised when exertion or any activity is performed and is felt the same way every time and is relieved by rest.

Unstable angina is a condition in which the pain is caused at rest, while after eating (post-prandial) and usually lasts longer and is severe. It gets better with oral medication but can progress to a heart attack or ACS (acute coronary syndrome).

Another form of angina is Prinzmetal’s angina or variant angina which is caused due to a spams in any coronary artery.  


  1. Pinched nerve: pinched nerve happens whenever the nerve is compressed by structures around it and is most commonly due to a slipped disc in the neck which causes the nerve to misfire and results in pain radiating to the arm and results in dull ache in arm. Along with dull ache in arm there are a number of associated symptoms which include:
  1. Tingling
  2. Numbness
  3. Weakness in muscles
  4. Burning sensation


  1. Rotator cuff injuries: This is a group of muscles and tendons that is located in the shoulder and results in free movement of arm keeping the bones at place. Rotator cuff injuries is of many types like depending on the structure involved and is classified as: tendinitis, bursitis, torn rotator cuff. These types of injuries can be experienced by anyone but particularly by athletes, sports players who use this group very often. This results in dull ache in arm and be persistent and continuous and result in limited movement in arm if not intervened at proper time.


  1. Carpal tunnel syndrome: This syndrome occurs when the median nerve is compressed and starts with tingling sensation in fingers and radiates into the arm resulting in dull ache in arm. This condition occurs due to compression of median nerve and thus is exacerbated by the activities where the wrist is bent like driving, reading books etc.


  1. Strain or Sprain: Sprain happens when the ligaments are injured and strain when the muscles are injured. Symptoms include bruises, muscle spasms, swelling alongside dull ache in arm depending on the side of involvement. These conditions are usually self-limiting but if it is consistent and severe you need to see a doctor.


  1. Brachial plexus injury: This injury is associated with the neck and results in dull ache in arm, tingling, numbness in hands as well. Overstretching of arms can also lead to injury to this plexus and results in dull ache in arm, numbness and soreness. Mild injuries are self-limited but severe injuries may require surgery if the movement of arm is severely impaired.


  1. Broken wrist or hand: If right after trauma the arm starts to pain, has bruising and swelling this can indicate a fracture. This pain can be described as dull ache in arm but can be severe or moderate depending upon the type and intensity of trauma. See your doctor if the symptoms are severe and overwhelming.


  1. Cervical disk herniation: Bulging of the disc in the neck region can pressurize the nerves around and can result in dull ache in arm which may be associated with tingling and numbness. The region of involvement usually is C5-C6.


  1. De Quervain's tenosynovitis: This condition occurs when the tendons at the base of the thumb are inflamed and results in tenderness at the same place but the pain as dull ache in arm can be experienced as a result of radiation to the site. This condition compromises the basic functions of thumb like grasping, pinching. The functions get better after treatment period of 4-6 week usually.


  1. Exertion: Strong arm work out, common in individuals who go to the exercise center or play sports, may cause minor wounds to the muscles of the arm or joints of the bear, elbow, or wrist, which cause discomfort that usually subsides after a number of days of rest. When exertion is monotonous, particularly in individuals whose work includes moving their arms, such as instructors who type in on the board, machine laborers, performers or competitors, it is understood to have Work-Related Musculoskeletal Clutter (WRMSD), moreover known as Tedious Push Damage (RSI)


  1. Dislocated elbow: A dislocated elbow happens when the bones that make up the joint are constrained out of arrangement - regularly after you fall on an outstretched hand amid a drop. The elbow is the second most commonly separated joint after the shoulder in grown-ups, and the first common joint dislocated in children. Toddlers may have an involvement of elbow dislocation, known as nursemaid's elbow, in case they are lifted or swung by their forearms. If you or your child has disjoined elbow, look for prompt therapeutic consideration. Complications can happen if the dislocated elbow squeezes or traps the blood vessels and the nerves that serve the lower arm and hand. This condition can be realigned without surgery. But in case your elbow is additionally broken/ fractured, you might require surgery.


  1. Thoracic outlet syndrome: This condition occurs after a trauma or injury in the area of thoracic outlet and can pressurize the structures associated. There are a number of vessels and nerves in the area and thus are affected in results in a number of symptoms ranging from dull ache in arm to weakness, weak pulse, discoloration in arm.


  1. Fibromyalgia: Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by broad musculoskeletal pain accompanied by weakness, fatigue, memory and temperament issues. Analysts accept that fibromyalgia intensifies pain sensations by influencing the way your brain and spinal cord handles pain and non-painful signals. Symptoms regularly start after an occasion, such as physical injury, surgery, disease or mental push. In other cases, indications steadily gather over time with no single activating event. Women are more likely to experience fibromyalgia than are men. Numerous individuals who have fibromyalgia too have pressure migraines, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, irritable bowel disorder, uneasiness and depression. While there's no remedy for fibromyalgia, medicines can offer help. Work out, and stress-reduction measures moreover may offer assistance.



Since dull ache in arm can be an indication of numerous disorders, it’s vital to urge a precise conclusion if your pain causes you distress. To analyze a condition that causes arm pain, your specialist will inquire point by point questions about the symptoms and exercises and perform a physical examination.

In case required, your doctor will arrange imaging tests which will incorporate the following:

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): This test employs a field in which radio waves are sent to take images of zones of your body.

Ultrasound: This test employs sound waves to create pictures of structures in your body, and can be valuable to analyze compression disorders like carpal tunnel syndrome.

Nerve Conduction Study: This strategy measures nerve impulses when a little amount of electrical current is sent and helps in identifying harmed nerves.

 Electromyography (EMG) This test includes embedding a needle electrode into muscles to calculate and measure their electrical movement, which can offer assistance identify harm to nerves driving to muscles.



For numerous types of arm pain, self-care and over-the-counter medications are sufficient to successfully resolve the pain. If you've got dull ache in arm from overexertion or a compressed nerve take breaks from exercises that push the area. For dull ache in arm due to abuse or overexertion, keep in mind the acronym:


  • Rest: Take a break from your typical activities.
  • Ice: Put an ice pack on the zone for 15 to 20 minutes, three times a day.
  • Compression: Utilize a compression bandage to diminish swelling.
  • Elevation: Elevate your arm over heart level to diminish swelling.

Pharmaceutical Options:

Common over-the-counter medicines to assist calm arm pain includes acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or ibuprofen.

Physical Therapy:

Some conditions that cause dull ache in arm, may advantage from physical therapy. A physical advisor can work with you to distinguish exercises or other components that will be contributing to your condition, and create particular works out to assist you fortify and strengthen the muscles and tendons.


When to see a medical professional:

Look for emergency treatment in the event that your arm, elbow, or wrist pain is the result of extreme injury or comes on abruptly. In case you have got inconvenience moving your arm or see projecting bones, see your specialist right away or seek nearby emergency help. Sudden arm, chest, or back pain may flag a heart attack, and seek emergency medical care. Pain that happens with effort and is soothed by rest (this may demonstrate decreased blood to your heart).

Sudden injury, severe pain and swelling, difficulty moving or rotating your arm and if you've got dull ache in arm that isn’t getting way better with self-care, or that you have got a damage take note of an increment in redness, swelling, or pain.



Dull pain in arm that comes and goes may be a potential caution sign of a heart attack. It is critical that individuals should seek treatment in the event that they have symptoms of a heart attack. If the arm pain comes about from a harm or a squeezed nerve within the spine or wrist, an individual may discover help by resting the arm, applying ice, and taking over-the-counter torment medicine. Physical treatment and yoga may offer assistance to diminish pain.



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