Right Arm Pain

A Quick Guide to Right Arm Pain

You probably don’t think much about your arms on a daily basis, unless you are experiencing either left arm or right arm pain. Then, all of a sudden, your arm has your full attention. When you consider all of the varying motions and things you do with your arms every day, you might even start to wonder why you don’t have arm pain more than you do.


Pain is always a symptom that something is wrong. So if you having right arm pain, the first thing to do is try and remember if you did anything to injure the arm. For instance, if you had been skiing or ice skating the day before and took a hard fall onto your right arm, the cause of right arm pain is pretty obvious. If, however, you just woke up out of the blue in the morning with right arm pain, the cause is going to take a little more thought.

While arm pain can be from an injury, it can also be from the most common cause, which is muscle fatigue. Maybe you were out throwing a baseball or a Frisbee ™ and the weather was just so great that you overdid it. Or, maybe you decided you weren’t going to be wimpy after all, and added a little too much weight to your arm lifts on the weight machine. Those situations can definitely cause right arm pain.


Muscle fatigue can come from muscle overuse and it doesn’t have to be arm muscles initially involved. For instance, people who work at computers all day, or do other repetitive motions with their wrists can often have severe pain, particularly at night, radiating up the entire arm. If left untreated for long enough, the pain can even move into the shoulder. This is called carpel tunnel syndrome pain, and a very simple outpatient surgery can have you fixed up in no time.

Another cause of right arm pain can be a broken bone. You might not have hit your arm hard on anything that you can remember but something like osteoporosis can cause a bone to break without you even being aware of it. It is pretty hard to break a bone in the upper part of your arm because there are so many muscles in this area, but overdoing it can cause muscles to swell up and that can also be a cause of right arm pain. A torn or overused tendon in the biceps area of the arm can cause much pain that is experienced all up and down the arm. You could be developing arthritis, which can cause swelling, which leads to chronic pain in either arm.

There are several occasions when you should see a doctor for right arm pain. These are if your arms hurts for forty-eight hours or more with no sign of relief, your pain increases when the arm is used, you can see a deformity or swelling in your arm, numbness in your arm, or you cannot move your arm. Another type of pain that you need to be on the lookout for is pain from a heart attack. This type of pain usually radiates down the left arm but it can reveal itself as right arm pain and even as pain in both arms. If you have pain in either arm accompanied by chest pain, shortness of breath or nausea, it can mean you are having a heart attack. Seek immediate emergency medical treatment.

The diagnosis and treatment of right arm pain can vary immensely depending on the problem. Obviously, a heart attack is sure to land you in a hospital bed. But other types of arm pain can be more frustrating. Pain can come and go in the arm for many months or even years, with no clear diagnosis of an exact problem. X-rays and an MRI might reveal nothing at all. You might simply receive a diagnosis of tendonitis or overuse, be told to use a cold or hot pack, take a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug like ibuprofen, or be given a prescribed drug, and be sent to physical therapy. In cases of swelling, sometimes cortisone shots can reduce the swelling and relieve the pain.

If you have considerable pain and/or limited motion, no firm diagnosis is forthcoming, and you have been through every physical therapist in the area, don’t think the only alternative is to live with the situation. Give a second doctor’s opinion or even a third or fourth doctor’s opinion if necessary. Get a referral to an arm specialist, a surgeon, and see if anything at all can be done to correct the problem. Sometimes, patience really does pay off.