Having pain in your left arm? What do you think is the reason for this pain? Even you think the ache appear for no reason you are wrong in most cases. Well it sounds frightening because often this kind of pain may be a worrying signal of coming heart attack.
For that reason, it is something that must not be neglected or ignored. Take a look at this post to get a detail about all possible causes of left arm pain and the ways to differentiate them on the basis of their symptoms.
The Left Arm Aches for No Reason
However does that always imply that any ache in left arm is always heart related? The answer is NO. There may be numerous other causes of ache in left arm that you may not know. This pain can differ from mild pain of muscle sprain to severe shooting pain of a cardiovascular disease. So, nothing can be stated with certainty about the possible reason for pain in left arm unless you go to see your doctor and get your ECG and blood taken a look at.
Nevertheless, among all causes of left arm pain, heart related pain is the most major one. So, whenever you get a pain in your left arm, do not overlook it and get a medical checkup simply to leave out the risk of heart attack.
Pain in the left arm can be due to lots of causes, ranging from a pulled muscle to a massive heart attack. While it is not always possible to determine whether left arm pain is because of an unimportant cause or something potentially major, numerous features can assist distinguish the distinction.
Here are some of the causes of pains in left arm in addition to their distinguishing symptoms;
Heart attack or myocardial infarction is an emergency situation condition that should be identified and treated in time to avoid serious effects. Myocardial infarction happens when blood supply to the heart muscles is incredibly minimized, causing ischemia of heart muscles. Heart is an active organ that keeps pumping blood to the whole body throughout your life.
This continuous working of heart is possible just when it receives adequate amount of blood supply and oxygen. In myocardial infarction the blood supply to heart muscles is decreased due to the obstruction of coronary capillary providing the heart. Obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol level and diabetes are the significant risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
People having any of the above conditions are more likely to obtain a cardiovascular disease. In these people, cholesterol stays high and starts transferring in the coronary heart vessels. Cholesterol keeps on developing slowly up until a plaque is formed that totally obstructs the heart vessels, thus cutting off the blood supply. When the blood supply is minimized to a crucial level, heart muscles end up being ischemic and begin dying that activates the start of cardiac arrest.
How to recognize the symptoms of cardiac arrest?
Myocardial infarction takes some time to establish due to the fact that blockage of coronary vessel is not an unexpected process. Rather it takes some time for the clot to form and cause heart attack. Symptoms of cardiovascular disease begin to appear only when complete obstruction of heart vessels occurs.
Sign and symptoms of heart attacks are typically extremely subtle and misleading. Therefore, chances of misdiagnosis are high. In some cases, individuals end up being unable to acknowledge the early symptoms of cardiovascular disease and keep ignoring them till they get a full blown cardiovascular disease. The earlier you acknowledge the symptoms of cardiovascular disease; the better is your possibility to prevent the worse result.
Most of the people have a sort of confusion or misunderstanding about the symptoms of cardiac arrest. Frequently it is presumed that chest pain or discomfort is the only indication of cardiovascular disease and heart attack can not happen until or unless there is associated chest pain.
This happens just when heart attack provides with classical symptoms of chest pain, chest tightening or squeezing. But atypical discussion of cardiovascular disease is typical now. Pain or pains in left arm is among the irregular symptoms of cardiac arrest. It can be alerting sign that you are getting a cardiovascular disease heart sooner or later. So, never do the mistake of disregarding pain in left arm.
If you are having a dull pain in your left arm that has just begun now, then it’s time to obtain alert. Pain in left arm due to heart attack generally starts all of a sudden and persists for a couple of minutes. Normally the pain continues for few minutes and after that goes away and comes back. Pain due to cardiovascular disease radiates to left shoulder, left arm and toward jaw and neck. Left arm pain might occur alone as a warning sign or in mix with other symptoms of cardiovascular disease.
Other symptoms of cardiovascular disease are as follows:
- Feeling of heaviness, pressure or fullness on chest or breastbone
- Squashing or squeezing chest pain that is not localized and radiates to neck jaw, left shoulder and left arm
- Feeling of chest tightness
- In some cases heart pain radiates to upper abdominal area or gastric area that may be confused with indigestion
- Problem in breathing or shortness of breath even on rest
- Feeling of lightheadedness and lightheadedness
- Nausea, vomiting or sensation of indigestion
- Increased sweating
- Irregular heart beat or palpitations
- Feet and arms getting cold
- Severe fatigue or unusual weakness
If left arm pain is related to any of the above symptoms, then its correct time to seek immediate medical aid because heart attack is more likely to occur in this circumstance. However, if left arm pain takes place alone without any other symptom and is of unexpected start continuing for more than 15-30 minutes, it is likely to be heart associated pain.
And if you are already having a previous history of ischemic heart disease and you get a dull pains in your left shoulder or left arm, it might show to aggravation of your heart problem.
Why does left arm pain take place in cardiovascular disease?
The factor behind pain in left arm due to heart attack is very simple. The nerves that supply heart and left arm arise from the very same nerve root in the spinal cord. Whenever cardiac arrest happens, the nerves that supply heart area take signals to typical nerve root. Now from this common nerve root in the spine, the pain signals are referred to left shoulder and left arm. That is why an ache is felt in left arm in cardiac arrest.
How to differentiate heart pain from non cardiac pain?
Before we begin we simply want to emphasize that you ought to constantly call a doctor or an ambulance if you do not feel well. Never try to treat anything by yourself. The details listed below is just for information however the first thing you ought to do is call a doctor!
Cardiovascular disease is not the only reason for pains in left arm. There are a lot more other causes of pain left arm. It’s difficult to separate the pain of heart origin from pain of musculoskeletal origin. But, there is some minor difference in the start, character and duration of pain in all the cases. Here are some points that will assist you recognize whether the ache in left arm and shoulder in due to heart related concern or not:
- Cardiac arrest pains is a dull pains with abrupt onset that continues for 15-30 minutes. This dull ache in left arm often radiates to neck and jaw too. Other symptoms of heart attack like nausea, chest heaviness and shortness of breath might accompany the pain in left arm.
- Left arm ache due to musculoskeletal problems like tendinitis and bursitis develops slowly and is sharp and tearing in nature. This kind of pain is usually connected with swelling and swelling of arm and shoulder. On the other hand, pain due to nerve entrapment will be more like a tingling feeling together with numbness and limb weak point.
- Heart associated left arm ache stays consistent and does not alter with motion of the arm. But, pain due to musculoskeletal problem becomes worse on moving the limb and relieves on avoiding arm movements. If you get left arm ache while doing some heavy work like pushing the items, then it’s least most likely to be the heart pain due to the fact that heart related pain starts by itself and limb movement or activity has no role in starting the pain.
- However, an abrupt dull pains beginning while taking rest or checking out a paper will strongly point towards heart attack.
- If left arm pain stays stubborn for days and months, it’s most likely be due to some chronic conditions like arthritis.
Angina and Left Arm Ache
Angina is defined as the chest pain on effort and is normally the symptom of heart disease. Angina is frequently described as mini cardiovascular disease but this condition is milder than myocardial infarction. In angina, the complete occlusion of coronary vessel does not occur. There is partial obstruction of vessels due plaque development. Due to this, the symptoms of angina do not appear on rest because the coronary vessels are not totally blocked and blood circulation remains maintained to heart muscles.
Till the heart is receiving sufficient quantity of blood and oxygen, it will keep working typically. However, when a person begins doing exercise or some difficult activity, the oxygen demand of heart tissues increases numerous folds. The only way to fulfill up this high oxygen demand of the heart muscles is by increasing blood circulation.
However, this can not take place in patients of angina pectoris due to the fact that these individuals have actually a repaired blood flow due to partial occlusion of coronary vessel. The blood flow in these individuals can not increase enough to meet up the oxygen need. Hence, heart muscles end up being denied of oxygen and ischemia begins that lead to beginning of chest pain.
That is why angina pain begins only when angina patients do some effort due to the fact that their heart ends up being denied of oxygen. Angina pain is alleviated on rest since during rest, the oxygen demand returns to normal and blood circulation suffices to cope up with it.
Angina pain usually begins in chest on doing exertion. The pain is normally felt as burning, pressure or squeezing of chest that radiates towards left arm, jaw and neck. But, this pain usually begins on doing any exertion or activity and is eased on taking rest. The duration of pain lasts for 5-10 minutes and unlike the pain of heart attack, this pain is not consistent and is not related to other symptoms like queasiness, dizziness or lightheadedness.
Whenever you get a dull boring ache in your left arm that features exertion and opts for rest, consider it as the pain of angina and get a total medical checkup instantly because neglect in the treatment of angina might increase your opportunities of getting a cardiovascular disease in future.
Flu Shot Pain
Flu shots are offered as the vaccination to avoid influenza spread. This influenza shot is given as an injection in the upper arm on either left side or right side. Some people who get injection in left arm typically experience pain in left arm after the flu shot. The sharp pain develops after influenza shot due the muscle pain at the site of injection.
Flu shot vaccination includes dead flu viruses when this vaccine is injected, antibodies are produced by the body’s immune system versus the dead infection in vaccine. These antibodies as soon as formed provide long term protection against influenza infection. A few of these antibodies reach the side of injection and cause swelling at the site causing, muscle soreness and pain that infects whole arm.
This pain may be accompanied by influenza like symptoms like fever or runny nose. Nevertheless, the pain only persists for 2-3 days and then disappears by itself. This suggests there is absolutely nothing to fret about arm pain after influenza shot. One crucial thing is that flu shot pain should not be confused with heart pain because both happen in various circumstance. Flu shot pain begins after injection while heart pain begins suddenly with no physical cause.
Musculoskeletal Causes of Left Arm Pain
As the name in showing, musculoskeletal pain is defined as the pain that stems from muscles, bones, tendons and ligaments. The main causes of musculoskeletal are muscle sprain, tendon swelling, ligament tears, bone fractures and nerve compression or injury. Here are some of the musculoskeletal conditions that might cause pain in left arm:
Muscle sprains and strains
One of the most common causes of left arm pain is muscle sprain or strain (4). Muscle sprain happens while pressing or pulling heavy things, which causes overstretching of muscles, causing injury or tearing or muscle fibers. Injury of muscles initiates swelling that leads to onset of pain, swelling and muscle pain. Pain of muscle sprain usually occurs after physical injury or misuse of muscle and can not be puzzled with heart pain since heart pain can begin even when you are taking rest and has no relation to physical injury or stress. Risk of muscle sprain is high is athletes, sportspersons and old individuals.
Here are some of the symptoms of muscle sprain that help separate it from heart pain:
- Sharp sudden pain after laborious physical activity or muscle overstretching
- Aggravation of pain on moving arm. Heart associated pain, on the other hand, does not intensify with limb motion
- Trouble in moving shoulder. Cardiovascular disease pain does not affect joint movement
- Swelling and redness of affected area. There is no swelling or redness of arm in heart related pain
- Muscle tightness. This is generally a sign of muscle injury and has no function in heart associated pain.
Skin contusion showing muscle tear
Moderate muscle sprain will not provide you problem as it recovers own its own within 2-3 weeks and pain can be alleviated by taking pain medication. If the pain persists longer than this, then look for medical help as it may be a sign of severe muscle injury that might require surgical repair also.
Rotator cuff overuse
Shoulder joint is supported by the assistance of muscles and ligaments that are commonly termed as rotator cuff (6). This rotator cuff keeps the shoulder joint supported and helps improve its movement. Any injury or overuse of this rotator cuff may cause severe pain in arm and shoulder. Typical causes of rotator cuff injury are unexpected overhead motion of arm, lifting of heavy items, falling on outstretched hand, sports injury and age related wearing and tearing of muscle tendons. Here are described the typical features of rotator cuff injury:
- Unexpected start of sharp shooting pain in the shoulder area. The pain of rotator cuff injury radiates from shoulder to arm and elbow
- Painful movements of shoulder joint
- Difficulty in triggering overhead movement of arm such as brushing hair or changing clothes
- Painful abduction (moving arm far from body) and rotational motion of arm
- Swelling and inflammation around shoulder
- Worsening of pain in the evening
- Joint tightness and weak point
Preventing strenuous exercise or limb movement will help recover rotator cuff injury. Pain can be managed by taking over the counter pain killer medicines.
Tendinitis is defined as the inflammation of tendons. Tendons are white fibrous cord that connect muscles to bones and assist support their movement. Tendinitis can be one of the causes in left arm. Tendinitis can happen in tendons of shoulder joint or of elbow joint. It can be intense or chronic relying on its cause. Acute tendinitis occurs in case of recurring movement of joints, unexpected motions and physical injury due to heavy object lifting and falling. Chronic tendinitis is most likely to occur in old people or those having autoimmune joint disorders.
Whatever the cause of tendinitis, it can lead to severe pain in whole arm. Symptoms of tendinitis are:
- Dull, burning or sharp pain in the afflicted area that may radiate to whole arm
- Normally the pain is more on the site of affected tendon and you may be able to localize the point of pain
- The afflicted area appears to be tender on touching Contrary to this, in cardiovascular disease the left arm in non tender and pain does not increase on touching.
- Painful movement of affected joint
- Swelling, warmth and soreness in the area of impacted tendon
- Muscle and joint tightness
- Movement of the limb may produce a crackling sound, named as crepitus (Crackling sound in ear)
Tendinitis pain can be merely eased by taking pain killers and rest. It takes 2-3 weeks for tendon injury to recover depending on the seriousness of injury Medical help needs to be looked for when pain does not away within a month.
Brachial plexus injury
Brachial plexus is a group or network of nerves located in the neck from where nerves are supplied to shoulder, arm and hand. Injury due to overstretching of arm, inflammation and compression of this nerve plexus can cause pain in arm.
Brachial plexus injury is accompanied by following symptoms:
- Beginning of tingling pain in arm, more in the area supplied by afflicted nerves
- Pain is accompanied by numbness or abnormal or missing experiences
- Limb weakness may exist
- Small injuries due to physical activity can be recovered by taking pain medication and avoiding limb motions. Injuries due to nerve compression might have to be dealt with by surgery.
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by compression of median nerve. Average nerve materials forearm muscles, thumb, forefinger, middle finger and half of ring finger. Typical nerve passes through tunnel like structure from lower arm to hand. When nerve gets pinched it causes tingling pain in first three finger, wrist and forearm. This pain may radiate to arm and shoulder also. There is likewise associated numbness and hand and forearm weakness.
Broken bone or fracture
Damaged fracture pain is incredibly severe and sharp with inability to move the limb. It is an emergency situation condition that need to be dealt with promptly.
The entire purpose of this short article was to discuss common causes of left arm pain with more emphasis on heart related pain since heart related pain is the most deadly one and is the indication of heart attack. If left arm pain happens unexpectedly without any evidence of physical injury, then it must be taken as cardiovascular disease pain. All other causes of left arm pain due to physical injuries are less serious and normally recover within a brief time until or unless there is any issue.