Causes of arm pain & numbness?

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Arm pain and numbness can be caused by injuries, nerve problems, and changes in blood flow. Medical conditions such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis can also cause arm pain. Symptoms may include burning or tingling sensations and can be a warning sign of a possible stroke.

The most common causes of arm pain and numbness include an injury or blood flow disorder to the arm. Injuries can include fractures, sprains, spots, and nerve problems. A change in blood flow to the arm can occur with any of these injuries and with certain medical conditions.
An injury to the muscles or supporting tendons and ligaments that connect the upper and lower arm bones can cause pain throughout the arm. Shoulder or neck injuries can also cause arm pain. Damage to the brachial plexus, a group of nerves in the armpit area, for example, can cause pain that travels up the arm and even into the hand.

Pressure on the nerves in the neck area can produce radiating pain that spreads to cause pain and numbness in the arms. Nerve pressure can occur with bulging or herniated discs, tumors, swelling problems, and some infection processes. In addition to pain and numbness, symptoms of nerve irritation or damage may include a burning sensation or the sensation of small needles being continuously jabbed into the arm.

When there is a change in blood flow, arm pain and numbness may be felt. Atherosclerosis, commonly referred to as hardening of the arteries, is a condition in which the diameter of a blood vessel becomes smaller. Compression of blood vessels can also occur if the tissues surrounding them are inflamed or swollen. The result is a slowing of blood flow. Pain in the chest and left arm is a condition called angina. This pain, similar to a heart attack, is triggered by a reduction in blood flow to the heart.

Another change in blood flow can occur with a medical warning sign called a transient ischemic attack or TIA. This is a sudden drop in blood flow to the brain and can produce one-sided pain and numbness in the arm. Although the resulting throbbing and tingling sensation in the arm is temporary, it is the body’s way of warning the person of a possible stroke.

Some medical conditions can cause arm pain and numbness. Diabetes can cause neuropathy or nerve damage. Another source of nerve damage in which the body’s immune system destroys the protective covering of the nerve is multiple sclerosis. Rheumatoid arthritis causes joint changes and can cause pain in the arm when the joints or the connection of the bones in the arm are affected. Lupus can damage joints and blood vessels causing pain or numbness all over the body, including the arm.

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