What Are the Most Common Causes of Right Arm Pain?

Right arm pain is typically not indicative of a heart attack the way left arm pain is.
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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 13 July 2014
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Right arm pain may be caused by several different conditions, and most of the conditions are not serious. Muscle strains or sore muscles are perhaps the most common causes of right arm pain, though a more serious muscle rupture may also cause pain anywhere in the right arm. Unlike pain in the left arm, right arm pain is not generally considered a sign of a heart attack, though pain resulting from a heart attack may radiate through the right arm, chest, back, shoulders, and neck in addition to the left arm. Other causes of pain in the right arm include tendinitis, ligament sprains, bone fractures, and nerve pain.

When a nerve becomes compressed or otherwise damaged, it can send pain throughout the area that it services. If that particular nerve happens to service the right arm, it is likely that some kind of right arm pain will result. Nerve pain may come in the form of sharp pain, shooting pain, numbness, tingling, or constant aches. To treat such right arm pain, one must first discover what is causing the compressed or damaged nerve. Injuries commonly cause such nerve pain, and it may originate in an area other than the right arm. A herniated disc in the spine, for example, can compress nerves that service the arms and shoulders. It may be wise to visit a doctor to find the cause of such nerve pain.

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Muscle strains occur when the tiny fibers that make up the muscle begin to tear. This tearing usually results in mild to moderate pain in most cases. Biceps commonly become torn due to overuse or bearing more weight than the muscle can safely handle. Right arm pain can result when any of the muscles in the right arm strain; the treatment usually involves rest, icing, compression, and elevation, or the RICE treatment. This helps keep swelling down and pain alleviated. If the muscle fibers tear completely from themselves or from a tendon, a muscle rupture has occurred. Surgery is often necessary to remedy this situation, and the recovery time is much longer.

Tendinitis can occur in the right arm as well. This happens when the tendons that connect muscles to bones become inflamed for any reason, leading to irritation and swelling. A more serious cause of right arm pain can be a bone fracture. These often occur as a result of a direct trauma that places so much strain on the arm that the muscles and bones cannot handle the load. The bone will therefore develop a crack, and the severity of the crack will dictate the treatment.

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Discuss this Article

anon354384
Post 4

@Ana1234: You should try some meditation techniques to help calm yourself. If not at that moment, over a period of time you will be able to cope better.

Ana1234
Post 3

I tend to get right shoulder and arm pain when I am too tense and stressed for a long time. I've got a bit of an aching shoulder now, in fact. I can never stop myself from clenching my muscles when I'm tense about something. It only makes things worse, but there doesn't seem to be any way of making myself relax until the crisis is over.

browncoat
Post 2

@indigomoth - Have you tried a different mattress? I didn't realize there was anything wrong with my mattress but I always woke up with upper arm pain, usually in my right arm. Eventually I realize that my mattress had developed a dip in the middle over the years and I kind of rolled into it when I was sleeping, then trapped my arm underneath.

When I changed my mattress I felt much better in the mornings. If it's not the mattress you might also think about getting a tri-corner pillow. My mother has one of those and she thinks it's the best thing ever invented. It keeps you from rolling around too much when you're sleeping.

indigomoth
Post 1

I often have shoulder pain in the morning because I think I sleep on my arm in a funny way. I've never been able to stop myself from doing it though and I'm not sure it's possible. I just automatically fall into that position when I fall asleep.

I've tried switching pillows and sleeping on my back, but I always wake up sleeping on that arm and then it hurts for a couple of hours in the morning.

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