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What can cause right arm pain and what to do

Pain in the right arm can arise due to a variety of causes, with the most common being as a result of blows or injuries to the structure of the arm, such as those resulting from having poor posture, repetitive strain or sleeping on the arm, for example.

Arm pain can occur in any region, from the shoulder to the wrist, usually by affecting areas such as the muscles, tendons, nerves, joints, blood vessels, and skin. Only in rare cases can it indicate a more serious problem, such as a neurological disease or even a heart attack.

So, to identify the exact cause of the pain, it is necessary to seek medical attention. The doctor will make an evaluation of the symptoms, perform a physical examination of the region and, if necessary, request tests to determine the cause and indicate the most correct treatment.

The are many causes for right arm pain, but you can find the main ones below:

What can cause right arm pain and what to do

1. Exertion

Intense arm exercise, common in people who go to the gym or play sports, may cause minor injuries to the muscles of the arm or joints of the shoulder, elbow, or wrist, which cause pain that usually improves after a few days of rest.

When effort is repetitive, especially in people whose work involves moving their arms, such as teachers who write on the board, machine workers, musicians or athletes, it is possible to have Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorder (WRMSD), also known as Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI).

What to do: in order to prevent this type of injury, it is necessary to obtain advice from the doctor and physiotherapist on the correct postures that must be taken during the movements, to avoid wear to the structure of the arm and, at the moment of acute pain, the doctor may indicate anti-inflammatory medication and rest.

2. Tendonitis

Tendonitis is an inflammation of the tendon, a tissue that connects the muscle to the bone, which generates symptoms such as localized pain and lack of muscle strength. It can arise more easily in people who make repetitive movements with the shoulder or arm, or in sportspeople.

What to do: to treat tendonitis, it is recommended you avoid any type of exertion with the affected limb, take painkillers or anti-inflammatory drugs as indicated by the doctor, and carry out the recommended physiotherapy sessions. 

3. Carpal tunnel syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs due to compression of the nerve that extends from the arm to the hand, called the median nerve. This syndrome is characterized by the feeling of tingling and a sensation of pins and needles mainly on the thumb, index finger or middle finger.

This type of syndrome is more common in professionals working with their hands and wrists, such as typists, hairdressers or programmers, for example, and the symptoms appear gradually, and may even become disabling.

What to do: the treatment is guided by the orthopedist or rheumatologist and includes the use of anti-inflammatory drugs, rest and physical therapy.

What can cause right arm pain and what to do

4. Poor circulation

Changes in the blood circulation of the arm, caused by an obstruction in the blood vessel or a thrombosis in the veins or arteries, for example, can cause pain or a tingling sensation, heaviness and swelling of the affected limb.

Poor circulation should be suspected when the extremities of the hands are very pale or purplish, there is swelling in the arm or hands or a tingling sensation.

What to do: it is necessary to see a general practitioner or angiologist, who will make a detailed evaluation and will ask for examinations like a Doppler ultrasound of the arm. Treatment depends on the cause, and may involve fluid intake, exercise or, in more severe cases, the use of medication to facilitate circulation.

5. Heart attack

Acute myocardial infarction or angina can cause chest pain radiating to the arm, and, although it is more common in the left arm, it may radiate to the right arm. This symptom of infarction is rare, but it can occur primarily in the elderly, diabetics or women, who may present atypical symptoms more often.

Arm pain that indicates a heart attack is usually associated with a burning or tightening sensation, chest pain, shortness of breath, nausea, or sweating.

What to do: if a heart attack is suspected, it is recommended that you go to the emergency room so that the doctor can evaluate the symptoms and ask for tests, which may or may not confirm the problem.

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