- Arm pain:
Have a symptom?
See what questions
a doctor would ask.
See what questions
a doctor would ask.
During a consultation, your doctor will use various techniques to assess the symptom: Arm pain. These will include a physical examination and possibly diagnostic tests. (Note: A physical exam is always done, diagnostic tests may or may not be performed depending on the suspected condition) Your doctor will ask several questions when assessing your condition. It is important to openly share any pertinent information to help your doctor make an accurate diagnosis.
It is also very important to bring an up-to-date list of all of your all medical conditions, medications including dosages, and names of numbers of any specialist you see.
Create your printable checklist by answering questions that your doctor may ask below:
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Why: to establish if acute or chronic.
Why: To determine if local or generalized pain and to determine if arm joints may be involved.
Why: helps determine which nerves may be affected e.g. painful peripheral neuropathy is symmetrical compared with individual nerve or nerve root disease which should be suspected if pain is asymmetrical or confined to one limb.
Why: can help determine the cause of arm pain e.g. carpal tunnel syndrome wakes the person in the middle of the night ; cervical spondylitis wakes the person with pain and stiffness that persists well into the day; people with thoracic outlet syndrome find it difficult to fall asleep due to pain.
Why: helps determine the cause of arm pain e.g. carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms may be relieved by dangling the arm over the side of the bed.
Why: e.g. whiplash injury or fall onto outstretched hand - can determine possible cause of pain.
Why: E.g. Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid arthritis, Gout.
Why: diabetes or porphyria can be a cause of painful peripheral neuropathy; diabetes may be associated with erythermalgia ; hypothyroidism may cause carpal tunnel syndrome.
Why: Vitamin B1 or 12 deficiencies can be a cause of painful peripheral neuropathy.
Why: certain occupations and sports requiring repetitive motions are at risk of causing overuse disorders e.g. process and meat workers are at risk of carpal tunnel syndrome and De Quervain's tenosynovitis due to rapid finger thumb and wrist movement; tennis players are at risk of lateral epicondylitis , golfers and pitchers are at risk of medial epicondylitis.
Why: can be a cause of painful peripheral neuropathy.
Why: E.g. arsenic or thallium poisoning can cause painful peripheral neuropathy.
Why: This may help your Health Professional is beginning to formulate the cause of your pain.
Why: The length of time that you have had the pain can give some indication as to its cause.
Why: Different causes of pain can give different types or qualities of pain. For instance the pain may be "sharp", "throbbing", "constant", "dull", or an "ache". Additionally, different people experience pain in different ways.
Why: Your Health Professional may ask you to rate your arm pain out of ten. This is a crude measure, however sometimes it is a simple way of assessing how much pain a patient is experiencing. It may help if you compare this pain to that which you have experienced in the past.
Why: There are several causes of arm pain which can disturb your sleep pattern. These include thoracic outlet syndrome in which you may not be able to fall asleep, carpal tunnel syndrome which may wake you from sleep in the middle of the night, and cervical spondylosis which may wake you from sleep and cause prolonged stiffness.
Why: Arm pain can be caused by a great many different injuries, including those inflicted directly on the arm as well as those inflicted in the neck or cervical spine. Sometimes an injury may involve a joint or bone, and this can result in osteomyelitis or septic arthritis. Some types of orthopedic and general surgery on the arm can also result in those conditions.
Why: Arm pain can be caused by dysfunction of your cervical spinal cord, or of the nerves which arise from it. This injury may have occurred some time ago and you may not think that it is important; however it may still be highly relevant to your Health Professional's management of your particular presentation.
Why: In general terms this indicated inflammation, however in the arm it can specifically indicate tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis, medial epicondylitis) with tenderness lateral or medical to the elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome with tenderness in the base of the palm, and inflammation of the tendons of the hand and wrist (overuse tendonitis).
Why: Some causes of shoulder pain such as supraspinatus tendonitis can cause pain in your arm.
Why: These two arthropathies can cause pain in the arm, and fingers.
Why: This may indicate some dysfunction of one or more of the nerves supplying the arm, or of the spinal cord. It may assist your health professional if you tell them exactly what you cannot do, and why you feel that you can't do it. Apart from indicating what is concerning you, it will also give an impression of the level of function you have in your arm.
Why: Pain as a result of some cardiac dysfunction can be felt in the arm, with or without pain in your chest. This is a vitally important cause of arm pain which needs to be rapidly excluded.
Why: Rarely, arm pain can be caused by a bone tumour such as osteosarcoma. A lump may also be the result of swelling of one of your lump nodes (lymphadenopathy) or lymph node inflammation (lymphadenitis). Your lymph nodes may become larger as a result of local skin infections (cellulitis, erysipelas), systemic infections (syphilis), or malignancies/cancers.
Why: This may indicate inflammation, vascular obstruction or lymphatic obstruction. A cause of vascular obstruction is axillary vein thrombosis, and a cause of lymphatic obstruction is surgical axillary clearance/lymph node clearance which is performed in breast surgery.
Why: This may indicate lymphadenitis of the axillary lymph glands, or it may indicate a vascular disorder such as axillary vein thrombosis. Axillary vein thrombosis requires urgent treatment and is more common in painters, those who play basketball, or anyone who holds their arms above their head for prolonged periods of time.
Why: This can indicate a disorder which is affecting a specific nerve or group of nerves. It may assist your health professional if you tell them exactly where you are experiencing these symptoms.
Why: There are several systemic conditions which can result in arm pain and pain in other places. These can include polymylagia rheumatica; a vascular disorder which can cause muscle aches, morning stiffness and tends to occur more with increasing age.
Why: This is a condition which can result in arm pain, as well as abnormal sensation.
Why: Diabetes can cause arm pain as well as many other more serious health disorders, but it is not always diagnosed. Thus your health professional may advise testing you for it to see if you have it.
Why: Sometimes arm pain can be the result of depression or other psychological conditions. These are two general questions which you may be asked in order to investigate the possibility of you being depressed or having some other psychiatric condition.
Why: If you child reports arm pain then this can be an important sign that they have suffered a pulled elbow injury.
Why: pulled elbow is an injury which children can suffer when they have had their elbow pulled for any reason; this can include such playful things as them swinging between two people who are holding each of their arms, or it may be an indication of a more sinister cause. If your child does have pulled elbow then it is more likely to be limp and be them consciously supporting it.
Why: These can be features of Kienbock's Disorder, which tends to occur in younger men and may result in wrist osteoarthritis.
Why: if also paresthesia in the involved extremity this usually suggests herniated cervical disc , spinal cord tumor or cervical spondylosis. Other conditions to consider are brachial plexus neuropathy, thoracic outlet syndrome, cervical rib, Pancoast's tumor, Raynaud's disease, sympathetic dystrophy or various entrapment syndromes such as carpal tunnel syndrome and ulnar nerve entrapment at the elbow.
Why: pain originating from disorders from the neck can transmit to distal parts of the arm.
Why: pain originating from disorders form the shoulder joint do not usually extend below the elbow.
Why: angina or heart attack must be considered as a cause of arm pain , especially for pain experienced down the inner left arm.
Why: can indicate septic arthritis, osteomyelitis.
The following list of conditions have 'Arm pain' or similar listed as a symptom in our database. This computer-generated list may be inaccurate or incomplete. Always seek prompt professional medical advice about the cause of any symptom.
Select from the following alphabetical view of conditions which include a symptom of Arm pain or choose View All.
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