Arm Pain or Injuries

What causes pain in the arm?

Arm painArm pain is defined as discomfort or pain experienced anywhere throughout the arm, and it can include pain in the wrist, elbow, and shoulder. Arm pain can occur due to a variety of different causes. The most common causes are injury or overuse. Definition. By Mayo Clinic Staff. Arm pain can be caused by a wide variety of problems, ranging from joint injuries to compressed nerves. Depending on the cause, arm pain can start suddenly or develop over time. In many cases, arm pain actually originates from a problem in your neck or upper spine.

Overuse injuries occur when stress is placed on a joint or other tissue, often by “overdoing” an activity or repeating the same activity. Overuse injuries include: … Other symptoms of this type of tendon injury include loss of strength or movement in the arm. Hairline cracks in bones of the arm (stress fractures).

Arm pain can be caused by a wide variety of problems, ranging from joint injuries to compressed nerves. Depending on the cause, arm pain can start suddenly or develop over time.

In many cases, arm pain actually originates from a problem in your neck or upper spine. Arm pain, particularly pain that radiates into your left arm, can even be a sign of a heart attack.

Possible causes of arm pain include:

  1. Angina
  2. Brachial plexus injury
  3. Broken arm
  4. Broken wrist/broken hand
  5. Bursitis
  6. Carpal tunnel syndrome
  7. Cervical disk herniation
  8. De Quervain’s tenosynovitis
  9. Dislocated elbow
  10. Meralgia paresthetica
  11. Hiatal hernia
  12. Pinched nerve
  13. Rheumatoid arthritis
  14. Rotator cuff injury
  15. Sprains and strains
  16. Tendinitis
  17. Tennis elbow
  18. Thoracic outlet syndrome

What causes pain in the shoulder and upper arm?

Shoulder and arm pain may be caused by many factors. Some causes may be serious conditions that require medical attention and you should consult your doctor first. There are four very different causes of pain in this area that may be successfully treated with advanced massage techniques.

1) Shoulder and arm pain can originate in the neck being caused by a bulging or herniated disc causing nerve root compression* resulting in pain, numbness or tingling along the nerve pathway down the shoulder into the arm. *Depending on the condition, approval from your doctor may be required.

2) Another cause of arm, chest, and shoulder pain is tight NMT muscles causing nerve entrapment.  Three examples of common places along the nerve pathway where muscles can entrap nerves are:

a) the scalene muscles where the nerves exit the vertebrae in the neck (thoracic outlet syndrome and/or protracted head syndrome)
b) between the pectoralis minor muscle and the ribs as the nerve plexus crosses the chest toward the armpit
c) as the nerve passes through the pronator teres muscle in the forearm at the elbow.

3) A third cause of pain in this area are trigger points in the muscles of the neck, shoulders or arm that cause referred pain to the shoulder, arm, wrist and hand. This can mimic pain caused by nerve root compression or nerve entrapment causing numbness, tingling or pain in the shoulder or the arm and is exclusively a soft tissue problem and is very successfully treated with.

4) Joint injury see Joint Pain & Arthritis

All of these scenarios with the possible exceptions of severely herniated discs and severe joint injuries* may be helped with neuromuscular massage therapy and other modalities. * Depending on the condition, approval from your doctor may be required.

Other specific conditions causing shoulder pain and arm pain may be successfully treated with therapeutic massage including: minor rotator cuff injuries and strains, carpal tunnel syndrome, forward “slumped” shoulders, shoulder separation- during post surgery recovery or in non-severe cases, bicipital tendinitis, pectoralis syndrome, sub-acromial bursitis may be helped by treating the surrounding muscles, glenohumeral dislocation/subluxation during the recovery phase of treatment, olecranon bursitis, and neuromuscular pain.

When the arm is raised, the archway becomes smaller, pinches the tendons, and can cause inflammation of the tissues. Pinching or impingement of the rotator cuff tendons can lead to tendinitis. … Shoulder bursa can become inflamed and painful as surrounding muscles move over them, causing bursitis.

Massage for Arm Pain or Injuries


There’s no replacement for a professional massage therapist. Even though rubbing your own neck or shoulder with the opposite hand can provide temporary relief, an expert knows how to direct pressure for the best results.

You might feel some lumps giving way under the pressure, which indicates that the muscle and tissue adhesions causing your pain are breaking up. Your Massage Envy therapist can recommend the right amount of pressure, but your input is important in ensuring that you receive the best possible shoulder massage.


While adhesive capsulitis (more commonly known as frozen shoulder) is a specific condition that takes as long as a year or two to heal, it often benefits from the same shoulder massage techniques that relieve other types of shoulder pain. These include:

  • Swedish Massage — actually increases the level of oxygen in your blood, leading to a decrease in muscle toxins and improved circulation.
  • Trigger Point Therapy actively identifies the location and intensity of sensation, providing natural management of chronic pain. Often, a single treatment results in a noticeable reduction of pain while ongoing treatment provides even more effective relief.


 Further Reading
*Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider.
Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.
The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended as diagnosis, treatment, or prescription of any kind. The decision to use, or not to use, any information is the sole responsibility of the reader. All trademarks, registered trademarks, brand names, registered brand names, logos, and company logos referenced in this post are the property of their owners.


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