Feeling like any dull pain in left arm that comes and goes?. Continue to read, will tell you more about the main causes for this type of problem and how you can get rid of it.
What causes dull pain in the left arm that comes and goes?
Although dull pain in the left arm is most of the times a sign of a herniated cervical disc, it may also indicate an injury, a pinched nerve, or carpal tunnel syndrome Or heart attack. Several conditions can be the cause of pain or discomfort in the left arm, which may sometimes come and go. These conditions include:
- Herniated cervical disc:
A herniated disc occurs when the gel-like centre of a spinal disc ruptures through a weak area in the tough outer wall. Neck or arm pain, numbness or tingling may happen when the disc material compresses a spinal nerve. Treatment with rest, pain medications, spinal injections, and physical therapy are first in line of treatment.
Most people show improvement in 6 weeks and return to normal activity. If symptoms continue, surgery may be recommended. Herniated discs are most common in people in their 30s and 40s.
Symptoms of a herniated disc vary greatly depending on the location of the herniation and response to pain.
- Heart attack:
Heart attack happens when blood vessels around the heart become congested due to deposits and stop the blood flow. Usually, this congestion is a build-up of a fatty substance in the arteries.
plaque can also rupture and form a clot that can block blood flow to the heart .
The interrupted blood flow can damage or destroy part of the heart muscle leading to a infraction.
If the pain is sudden or has a compressive nature or has squeezing nature especially in left arm, It can be due to heart which is a medical emergency. Also Pain or discomfort in one or both of the arms is one possible warning sign of a heart . Rest of the symptoms of a heart attack include:
▪ shortness of breath
▪ pain, squeezing, or pressure in the centre of the chest
▪ pressure or pain in the upper body, which may affect the back, neck, jaw, stomach, or arms
▪ nausea or vomiting
▪ a cold sweat
Men and women may experience different heart attack symptoms. For example, women are more likely to experience shortness of breath, jaw pain, back pain, nausea, or vomiting. However, the feeling of weight on the chest is common for both the sexes.
If someone has above mentioned symptoms, they need to seek emergency medical care.
- Rotator cuff injuries:
The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons in the shoulder region that join the upper arm to the shoulder blade. The rotator cuff muscles let the arm to move freely within the shoulder joint while keeping the arm bone in place.
Although the location of rotator cuff is in the shoulder, it can cause pain that radiates down to the arm. There are different types of rotator cuff injuries, including:
it’s a condition that involves inflammation or damage to the rotator cuff tendons.
inflammation and swelling of the bursa, a fluid filled sac like thing next to the rotator cuff that allows the arm to move freely.
Torn rotator cuff:
muscles or tendons within the rotator cuff can become damaged, leading to one or more tears that can range from mild to severe.
this occurs when the shoulder bone rubs against the rotator cuff. pain from this type of injury can happen when a person raises their arm above the shoulder height.
Rotator cuff injuries can happen to anyone, but they are especially common in sports people who frequently raise their arms overhead, example tennis players or swimmers. They also affect people with jobs that involve repetitive lifting of the arm , such as construction work.
The symptoms of a rotator cuff injury include pain and stiffness while lifting or lowering the arm, as well as pain that radiates from the front of the shoulder down to the arm. With time , the pain may become continuous, limiting a person’s movement.
- Pinched nerve:
A pinched nerve occurs when a nerve becomes compressed due to some reason. The pressure causes nerve signals to misfire which confuses our body and , results in pain that can radiate down the arms.
Slipped disk bone in the upper spine is a common cause of pinched nerves. A slipped disk occurs when a disk i.e. vertebra bond in the spine moves out of place or becomes swollen and Inflamed putting pressure on the nerves nearby.
Other symptoms of a pinched nerve include:
▪ numbness or tingling
▪ pins-and-needles sensation
▪ pain that feels sharp or burning and that radiates to nearby areas
▪ muscle weakness
- Carpal tunnel syndrome:
(CTS)also occurs due to nerve compression, but has a Special nerve i.e. when it affects the median nerve, which runs from the forearm to the palm of the hand.
Carpal tunnel syndrome causes numbness that starts in the fingers of hand and can radiate up the arm. This condition can sometimes also cause pain and make it difficult to hold grip on objects.
The symptoms may get worse with specific activities that require a person to bend their wrist, like reading a book or driving.
How to do diagnosis for dull pain in the left arm that comes and goes?
If a person seeks emergency care for a possible heart attack, doctors will check blood pressure and pulse .Then other tests will be performed to see what is the cause of arm pain and other symptoms to rule out heart attack, they are :
- electrocardiogram , records electrical signals of the heart.
- blood tests i.e. CBC
- X-rays of chest and abdomen
- CT or MRI scans can be helpful sometimes
If concluded that the person is not having a heart attack, they may look at the arm to see if their are any signs of injury or trauma.
X-rays, MRI scans, and ultrasound tests allow to look at the bones and tissues in the arm to check for physical injuries.
For carpal tunnel , doctors ask the person to perform specific movements to see whether these trigger symptoms. They may use USG to see if there’s any enlargement of the median nerve or electromyography to measure electrical activity in the arm.
What is the treatment for dull pain in the left arm that comes and goes?
The treatment depends directly on the cause of pain in left arm. If doctor determines that a person is having a heart attack, they will work quickly as it is an emergency so they will try to restore the blood flow to the heart .
The approach that doctors use for a heart attack will depend directly on the severity of the heart attack and a person’s overall health.
Heart attack treatment may includes following:
Some medicines can help in dissolving blood clots and clear the blockage of any vessel.
In this procedure, doctors insert a tube in the blocked vessel and attempt to open it. In some cases, insertion of a stent, which is a mesh tube is needed.
- Heart valve surgery:
In this procedure surgeon removes the damaged heart valve and replaces it with an new artificial valve which performs functions in a better way.
- Bypass surgery:
due to damaged passage surgeon creates a new passage for blood to flow through to the heart, bypassing the blocked artery.
- Heart transplant:
In Severe cases a heart transplant is the need of hour , which involves replacing a person’s heart with a heart from an organ donor.
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen, for short-term pain management, and physical therapy can also be recommended by a doctor after ruling out heart attack .
The Rotator cuff injuries that do not respond to these treatments may require corticosteroid injections or even surgery.
Few home remedies for relief in pain:
▪ avoiding using the arm and resting it whenever possible
▪ applying an ice pack several times a day to relieve pain and swelling
▪ wrapping the area with a bandage
▪ elevating the arm higher than the heart to bring down swelling.
Treatments for CTS include:
Doctors advise to wear a splint to keep the wrist straight. Avoiding activities that cause symptoms.
corticosteroid injections are so helpful to reduce inflammation. yoga a type of meditation, which can improve pain and grip strength. Surgery is also an option to relieve pressure on the median nerve.
When to see a Doctor if you have dull pain in the left arm that comes and goes?
Seek emergency treatment if you have:
- Arm, or shoulder pain that comes on suddenly, is unusually severe, or is accompanied by pressure, fullness or squeezing in your chest and moves down to the arm as well especially left arm(this may signal a heart attack)
- An obvious deformity or protruding bone in your arm or wrist after a serious accident especially if you have bleeding .
See your doctor right away if you have :
- Arm, or shoulder pain that occurs with any sort of exertion and gets better by rest — possibly signalling heart disease or chest discomfortcaused by decreased blood flow to your heart muscle.
- A sudden injury to the arm, particularly if there is a cracking sound.
- Severe pain and swelling in your arm
- If one has trouble in moving arm normally or turning arm from palm up to palm down and vice versa.
Schedule an appointment visit if you have :
- Arm pain that doesn’t get better after home care
- Increasing redness, swelling or pain in the injured area
What self care can be done if you have dull pain in the left arm that comes and goes?
Even serious arm injuries can be helped initially with home remedies. If you think that you have a broken arm or wrist, apply ice packs to the injured area and use a sling to help hold your arm still until medical care arrives.
If you have a compressed nerve or repetitive strain injury, be consistent with the therapy; maintain good posture; and take frequent breaks at work and during repetitive activities, such as playing an instrument or practicing your golf swing take rest in between , don’t strain your nerve.