Shoulder and Arm Pain Conditions

Shoulder and Arm Pain Conditions Treatment by Dr. Vivek Loomba


Pain in the shoulder and arm can happen due to an injury, overuse of muscles, or nerve damage. It is the third most common pain around the world as it is the most used joint in the human body. The pain can range from mild to severe and usually lasts for weeks or months depending upon the medical conditions and symptoms of an individual patient.

Causes and Symptoms

The causes of shoulder and arm pain depend on the patient’s condition, lifestyle, and physical stress. The major causes of pain-related factors are –

  • Sprains – It happens due to the tearing of ligaments or tendons. Mild to severe strains need to be treated differently. Mild strains can be easily treated at home. Severe strains may require surgery to avoid further spread of damage. Some symptoms include –
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Limited Joint mobility
  • Joint instability
  • Pinched nerves – It happens when a nerve is damaged in the bones, muscles, cartilage, or tendons. The major symptoms included are –
  • Tingling
  • Sharp pain
  • Numbness
  • Weak muscles
  • Tendonitis – It affects shoulders, elbows, and wrists. The pain varies from mild to severe based on the inflammation in patients. The symptoms noticeable are –
  • Swelling
  • Aching pain
  • Tenderness
  • Dull
  • Broken bones – Broken bones can cause immense and unbearable pain. Symptoms include –
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Severe pain
  • Deformity
  • Inability to make palm movements
  • Rheumatoid arthritis – It is a disorder that affects the joints due to inflammation. The major symptoms included are –

  • Warm and tender joints
  • Swelling in joints
  • Fatigue
  • Stiffness in joints
  • Heart attack – It happens when there is a lack of oxygen supply in the heart due to less flow of blood resulting in blockage. The pains you’ll experience in a heart attack are –
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Cold sweat
  • Angina – It is a heart disease in which a patient has a lack of oxygen supply to the heart. The symptoms to identify if a patient has angina are –
  • Severe chest pain 
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath


A specific diagnostic test needs to be performed for understanding the cause of your pain. Your doctor will determine the test based on the symptoms you’re noticing. The following tests will help doctors in finding the cause –

  • X-rays – It helps in finding broken or fractured bones.
  • Blood Tests – It helps in the diagnosis of diabetes or certain medical conditions that can cause inflammation in joints.
  • Ultrasound – High-frequency sound waves are used to find the detailed structured images of the body.
  • MRI or CT scans – It detects soft tissue or bones for diagnosing the root cause of your pain.


There are a number of treatment options for shoulder and arm pain conditions. However, specific treatment for your condition will be determined after a proper examination of your condition by a specialist doctor. The recommended treatment options are –

  • Pain medications – Pain in your arm is severe enough due to an accident or fall that your doctor may prescribe certain pain medications for relief. 
  • Anti-inflammatory medications – They are available as oral medications, injections, and intravenous medications. Medications like corticosteroids are highly effective in reducing the underlying cause of pain.
  • Surgery – Severe pain such as broken bones and tearing of ligaments may require surgery for the proper functioning of parts.
  • Physical therapy – An individual with a limited range of motion due to a previous injury can extremely benefit from physical therapy.

When to see a doctor?

If you’re experiencing unexplained severe pain you should immediately consult with a specialist doctor. If the pain is sudden and very severe then you must call the emergency helpline number 112 for the necessary help. An unexplained shoulder and arm pain can be a sign of a heart attack. Nevertheless, one should consult a doctor if they’re experiencing intense shoulder and arm pain for better diagnosis and treatment exposure for a healthy lifestyle.