This Is When You Should Worry About Arm Pain

From your shoulder down to the tips of your fingers and everything in between, arm pain can often be traced to some form of physical trauma (via WebMD). In some cases, however, it may be a symptom of a potential underlying health condition. Here's what to be on the lookout for when it comes to determining whether or not your arm pain may be cause for concern.

According to Seattle Children's Hospital, mild cases of arm pain can often be attributed to overuse, such as muscle cramps that emerge after typing for long periods of time. Generally, it only takes a matter of minutes before muscle cramps start to subside. Alternatively, arm pain can also set in as a result of muscle strain. Think lifting a heavy couch. While strained muscles usually heal on their own, be sure to consult with your healthcare provider if symptoms worsen or do not improve, per WebMD.

Trauma, such as bruised muscles or broken bones, can also cause us to experience arm pain (via WebMD). These may include rotator cuff injuries, a dislocated elbow, or a sprained wrist, notes the Mayo Clinic. Always see a doctor in the event of an injury.

Arm pain can be a symptom of certain health conditions

It is not uncommon to experience arm pain in association with certain health conditions, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, arthritis, a pinched nerve, or a herniated disk (via WebMD). In more severe cases, however, arm pain may be an indicator of a heart attack. Seek emergency medical care if the pain comes on suddenly in one or both arms, particularly if accompanied by chest pain or pressure, shortness of breath, nausea, or dizziness.

While rare, arm pain can also be a symptom of a neurological disorder known as Parsonage-Turner Syndrome (PTS), reports the National Organization for Rare Disorders. Thought to be the result of immune system dysfunction, those with the condition often experience sudden severe arm and shoulder pain involving burning, stabbing, or aching sensations, along with subsequent muscle breakdown. Episodes may be singular or recurrent and can last anywhere from hours to weeks. Treatment methods generally center around pain relief. Doctors may implement the use of certain medications, physical therapy, electrical nerve stimulation, or surgery.

While some forms of arm pain may respond to at-home treatments, such as the RICE method, the Mayo Clinic stresses that it's important to see your doctor to get to the root cause of arm pain, particularly if symptoms don't improve on their own.