What are the most common causes of upper arm pain?

The most common causes of upper arm pain are considered muscle fatigue and tendinitis. Neither of these conditions is considered serious, and they often go away within a few days. In some cases, upper arm pain is the result of a condition called referred pain. Referred pain is pain experienced in one part of the body, while the cause of the pain is actually coming from a completely different location. Sudden, severe pain in the upper arm can sometimes indicate serious heart conditions and may indicate that a heart attack is imminent.

Muscle fatigue usually results from overworking the muscles and tendons within a certain muscle group. It can happen after performing an extremely strenuous task, or it can be the result of repeated overuse. Upper arm pain caused by muscle fatigue is usually related to work or sports. People who have jobs that require heavy lifting or that involve reaching their arms above their heads may be at higher risk for this type of fatigue. Often a few days of muscle rest will relieve symptoms.

Bicipital tendinitis is a type of tendinitis that affects the muscles of the upper arm and shoulder, and is caused by tears or worn places in the tendons. People with this condition usually experience pain in the upper arm, and in addition, the area is usually sore to the touch. Treatment for bicipital tendinitis generally involves ice applications and restriction of movement. Anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen may also be necessary for pain relief. The time frame for rehabilitation depends on the extent of the injury, with some recovering within a few days, while others may take weeks to see improvement.

Some people experience instances of bicipital tendonitis repeatedly. For these people, more aggressive therapy is sometimes necessary. Chronic tendonitis is often much more painful and may require direct injections of steroids to quickly treat the inflammation. Additionally, chronic sufferers may need to undergo physical therapy or surgery to see an improvement in their condition.

Pain in the upper arm, especially the left arm, sometimes indicates a heart attack. This type of pain is described as radiating pain that usually starts in the shoulder and moves up the arm. The pain is usually sudden, although in some cases it may start as pain that gradually gets worse. In any case, if it is related to a heart attack, the pain usually occurs within hours or minutes of the attack itself. Upper arm pain related to a heart attack usually involves other symptoms such as sweating and dizziness.

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