Left Arm Pain in Women

Pain in the left arm can be caused due to various reasons. It can also be an indication of some other ailment. Proper diagnosis of the pain can assist in its treatment. Here are some common causes behind the pain in left arm.
The human body has a very complex structure. Every part of the body, like the bones, ligaments, nerves, tendons, as well as the muscles are linked together. This is the reason why when you visit a doctor, he/she asks you infinite questions in order to perfectly diagnose your symptoms.

Left arm pain is more commonly seen in middle-aged women around the age of 40. However, sometimes, it may be seen before the middle age as well. In some cases, the pain may come and go or may keep increasing, and it can be debilitating.

If the pain is acute and severe, causing you to writhe, it is better to call emergency services immediately.
Type of Pain
Pain in the arm can range from a mild discomfort to unbearable agony. Arm pain can be anywhere from the fingertips to the shoulder. It can appear only in one arm, known as unilateral arm pain, or it can also be caused in both the arms, known as bilateral pain. There are various degrees of this pain. Sometimes, the pain can be dull, while at other times, it will result in a sharp, shooting pain. Also, the pain in the arm can be constant; however, there are also cases where the pain is intermittent.

Pain in the left arm can be of two types -- either chronic or acute. When a person is suffering from constant and persistent pain for almost or over three months, the pain is known to be chronic in nature.

However, sudden and sharp pain is known as acute. It is an alarm system of the body to inform you that something is wrong. In most cases, acute pain can be overcome by medication or other measures, while most cases of chronic pain have to undergo long-term treatment.
Due to Injury
Mastectomy: Women, who have undergone surgery for removal of either one or both the breasts due to cancer, generally witness pain in the arms after the surgery.

Brachial Plexus Injury: Brachial plexus is the network of nerves that sends signals to your shoulder, arm, wrist, and hand from your spine. These nerves can be injured due to stretching and sometimes, can also get torn, causing severe damage. It is very common in contact sports. Most of these injuries heal on their own. However, severe damage may require surgery.

Broken Arm/Wrist/Hand: In case any accident has caused your arm to break, you are advised to visit a nearby healthcare facility immediately. You must consult a doctor for primary treatment.

Strains and Sprains: These are common injuries and can be a result of any activity. Sprain is caused when ligaments are stretched beyond a certain point, while strain is caused due to tearing of muscles or tendons. Both are known to be self-healing injuries. However, if the arm is not given proper rest and is overused, the pain can be very persistent and worsen the injury.

Rotator Cuff Injury: The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that assist in movement and stabilizing the shoulder. Any kind of lesion in these muscles can result in severe- and gradually-accelerating pain, if left untreated.

Tendinitis: Our muscles are attached to the bone by cords that are thick and fibrous. These cords are called tendons. A sudden injury, or repetitive use of a body part may lead to inflammation in the tendons. This condition is known as tendinitis. Some variations of this condition are tennis elbow, pitcher's shoulder, golfer's elbow, swimmer's shoulder and jumper's knee.
Due to Disorders
Arthritis: It is a kind of joint disorder whereby the joints of the bones get inflamed. Severe form of this disorder can render a person incapacitated.

Spondylolysis: It is a defect in the spine, specifically in the bones that make up the spine. These bones are called vertebrates. It can cause small stress fracture in the spine that can be the cause of radiating pain in the left arm.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: It is a painful condition in the arm arising out of a pinched nerve in the wrist. It can result in numbness, tingling sensation, and radiating pain in the arm. It can be cured by proper treatment.

De Quervain's Tenosynovitis: It is a disorder that affects the tendons on the thumb region of the wrist. It is a very painful condition, and in serious cases, it becomes difficult to use the thumb for any activity.

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome: Thoracic outlet is the space between the collarbone and first rib. Due to bad posture, or excessive pressure, the nerves and blood vessels in this area might get compressed, resulting in pain and numbness in the arm.

Heart Trouble: Left arm pain, along with tightening of the chest and difficulty in breathing has always been considered the primary indication of an onset of a heart attack. Thus, if you have any of these symptoms, you must visit a physician.
Due to Lifestyle
Stress: Stress, either due to personal, or professional issues, if not dealt with, can trigger panic attacks. Acute pain in the left arm can be caused due to such attacks. Many people do not think that psychosomatic problems can also induce left arm pain. The pain felt is due to the complex link between the mind and body.

Posture while Sleeping: Sleeping in an unhealthy and awkward position for a very long time can cause a pinching sensation in the arm. A pinched nerve may be the cause of pain, or numbness in the arm. Dead arm can also be a source of left arm pain as well as tingling in the arm. Dead arm can be caused by poor circulation as well as lack of movement, or if the arm was laid in an inapt position.

Medication: There is a possibility that if you are on prescription drugs, they could be the culprit causing the pain. It is better to cross-check the side effects of the medication. If arm pain is not listed as one of the side effects, it does not mean that the medication cannot be causing it. Do take advice from your doctor.

Flatulence: Spicy and oily foods can result in intestinal gas, which may, in a few cases, cause pain in the left arm.
Treatment Options
Based on the diagnosis by the doctor, there are several ways that can be adopted to manage the pain.
  • NSAIDs (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)
  • Psychotherapy
  • Behavior modification
  • Acetaminophen
  • Narcotics, such as morphine, or codeine
  • Acupuncture
  • Localized anesthetic
  • Physical therapy
  • Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing
  • Surgery
In case of the following symptoms, contact your doctor immediately:
  • Pain in the left arm, neck, and/or jaw
  • Repetitive uncomfortable pressure in the middle of the chest
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
The article published herein, is meant to accomplish pedagogical purposes only. The recommendations mentioned hereby may not be generically applicable. The information, by no means, intends to supplant the diagnosis and advice imparted by the medical practitioner.