Overview of Pain in the arms, left shoulder, elbows, jaw or back
Small aches and pains in the left arm are often a normal part of aging. However, sudden or unusual left arm pain could be a sign of a more serious medical problem. It might be a symptom of an injury that needs treating or, in the worst case, the effect of a heart attack.
Being aware of the potential causes and characteristics of left arm pain can help a person recognize what the body is reacting to and determine when it is necessary to seek medical attention.
If your arm hurts, your first thought may be that you injured your arm. Pain in one part of the body can sometimes originate elsewhere. A pain in your left arm could mean you have a bone or joint injury, a pinched nerve, or a problem with your heart.
Home Remedies for Pain in the arms, left shoulder, elbows, jaw or back :
Treating shoulder pain often involves soothing inflammation (swelling and redness) and strengthening muscles. Here are several ways you can take care of yourself and relieve shoulder pain.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS) help to relieve pain and lower inflammation. Over-the-counter drugs include aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen. Reducing inflammation is important in rotator cuff injuries, tendonitis and arthritis, and other shoulder injuries.
Cold compresses can help reduce swelling in the shoulder. Cooling also helps to numb sharp pain. Apply an ice pack for up to 20 minutes, up to five times a day. Use a frozen gel pack, ice cubes in a plastic bag, or a bag of frozen peas. Wrap the cold pack in a soft towel. Do not apply a cold pack directly to skin.
Wrap the shoulder with an elastic medical bandage to help reduce swelling and pain. Use a cold compression bandage or a regular ACE bandage. You can also get a shoulder wrap from a pharmacy. Wrap it snugly but not too tight. You don?t want to block blood flow. If your arm or hand begins to feel numb or tingly, or turn blue, loosen the compression bandage.
Heat helps to relax tense muscles and soothe a stiff shoulder. It can help with muscle pain and arthritis in the shoulder. Use a heated gel pack, heating pad or a hot water bottle.
Muscle relaxants may help treat pain if you have muscle tension or spasms around the shoulder joint. Common muscle relaxants include cyclobenzaprine, tizanidine, and baclofen. You will need a prescription from your doctor.
Remember that muscle relaxants cause drowsiness and shouldn?t be taken if you?re driving or operating machinery.
Medications such as acetaminophen and aspirin can help ease pain. This helps you cope with the injury and get better sleep as you recover.
Pain medications can cause side effects such as stomach upset and heartburn. Talk to a doctor if you are taking them for longer than four weeks.
You can also try topical pain-relief gels and creams, which don?t have the same side effects as oral pain meds. Diclofenac is one medication approved in two forms by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for osteoarthritis treatment. It?s available as 1 percent diclofenac sodium gel and 1.5 percent diclofenac sodium solution.
Rest and activity modification
Stop or change the activity that may have caused the shoulder pain. It?s important to move the shoulder gently. This helps to keep the shoulder muscles strong and flexible.
When to see doctor for Pain in the arms, left shoulder, elbows, jaw or back :
Heart attacks can come on suddenly or start slowly. The most common symptom is chest discomfort or pain.
If you think you might be having a heart attack, call your local emergency services, immediately. Emergency personnel can begin to help as soon as they arrive. When it comes to heart muscle damage, every second counts.
Here are a few other things to keep in mind:
- If you?ve previously been diagnosed with heart disease, left arm pain should always be investigated.
- A bone that doesn?t heal properly will give you more trouble in the long run. If there?s a possibility that you?ve fractured or broken a bone, see your doctor right away.
- Without treatment, bursitis, tendinitis, and rotator cuff tears can lead to complications like frozen shoulder, which are much harder to treat. If you can?t fully rotate your shoulder, elbow, or wrist, see your doctor. Early treatment can prevent it from getting worse.
- For strains and sprains, try resting your arm and keeping it elevated if possible. Apply ice for 20 minutes several times a day. Use over-the-counter pain medication.
Treatment for the Pain in the arms, left shoulder, elbows, jaw or back
Although arm and shoulder injuries may not be life-threatening, it is still important to seek medical evaluation from a doctor. Early treatment can help tissues or bones heal and prevent further damage.
The most important factor of early treatment for left arm pain, however, is ruling out a heart attack.
If emergency doctors decide that arm pain is the symptom of a heart attack or an arterial blockage, they will act immediately. First, they will most likely perform an electrocardiogram, blood work, a chest X-ray, and possibly a CT tomography angiography scan.
A doctor may also use an imaging procedure called cardiac catheterization. This test allows doctors to assess the extent of blockages by injecting a dye into the arteries.
Based on the results of this test, doctors may choose noninvasive treatment. For example, they may prescribe a drug that breaks up blood clots.
More severe blockages may call for surgery. There are many different heart procedures, and the factors that go into choosing the most appropriate one are complex. Some potential options for restoring blood flow to the heart include:
- Stent implantation: The surgeon inserts a wire-mesh tube into a narrowed artery to widen the vessel and promote blood flow. This tube is called a stent.
- Angioplasty: The surgeon inflates a small balloon inside a blocked artery, reopening it to allow blood flow. They may also attach a stent to the balloon to lock it into place.
- Bypass surgery: The surgeon uses a healthy section of the blood vessel to divert blood flow around the blockage.
If a person experiences a heart attack or angina, they should make lifestyle changes to avoid a recurrence. These might include:
- quitting smoking
- reaching a healthy body weight
- starting an exercise regimen
- eating a healthful diet that includes plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean meats, as well as low fat dairy products