Arm pain can be due to a number of different reasons. It can be caused by a neck problem, a shoulder problem or can come from a problem with the arm itself. A physiotherapist can do a detailed assessment to find the likely source of the condition and form a treatment plan.

Arm Pain From The Neck

Neck-related arm pain is common and generally falls into two main categories:

  1. Referred arm pain. This is pain generated by the disc, joints or ligaments in the neck and felt in the arm because of the way the nervous system works. The pain is usually achy, hard to define in terms of position and above the elbow.
  1. Nerve root pain. This pain is generated by nerve compression from a disc protrusion. The pain is severe, sharp and surging, in a precise area on the arm and often below the elbow and into the hand. This pain is like sciatica in the arm, and is rarer than nerve root pain in the leg but can be disabling for some weeks.

Arm Pain From The Shoulder

Shoulder pain is also commonly felt in the arm as the tissues of the joint can refer pain downwards into the arm. This pain is similar to the type of referred pain from the neck in being hard to define, achy and above the elbow.

Man Receiving Upper Arm Treatment

Arm Pain Conditions

There are a number of pain conditions related directly to problems with the tissues in the arm:

  • Bicipital tendonitis. Inflammation of the biceps tendon in a groove at the front of the shoulder.
  • Ruptured biceps tendon. More common in older people, this does not usually cause any functional problems. The biceps balls up in the lower part of the upper arm.
  • Tennis Elbow. An overuse injury of the extensor (outer) muscles of the forearm.
  • Golfer’s Elbow. An overuse injury of the flexor (inner) muscles of the forearm.

A physiotherapist will be able to take your history and examine you to find out which of the above reasons for your arm pain is the main diagnosis. Treatment can only go ahead when the likely cause of the arm pain has been identified.

Last Review Date: 14-02-2020

Next Review Date: 14-02-2022