Read below about severe upper arm pain, including causes and common questions. Or get a personalized analysis of your severe upper arm pain from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

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A.I. Health Assistant Causes for Severe Upper Arm Pain

Updated on Aug. 29, 2018

The list below shows results from the use of our A.I. Health Assistant by Buoy users who experienced severe upper arm pain. This list does not constitute medical advice.

  1. 1.Brachial Plexopathy (Shoulder Nerve Issue)

    The brachial plexus is a complex nerve network located in the upper chest and shoulder region. Nerves can be explained as 'electric wires' of the body, passing through signals from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles. The brachial plexus is a bundle of nerves that lies deep to the collar bone, which supplies the shoulder, arm, forearm, and hand. When this bundle of nerves is (partially) damaged, one speaks of a 'plexopathy'. Several causes of damage can be injury or forceful trauma, inflammation or infection. A commonly known cause is sports injury in contact sports like football and rugby. Symptoms can include pain, burning, numbness and weakness in the shoulder and arm on one side, sometimes shooting through the arm to the hand. An acute (sports) injury that causes this condition is often called 'burners' or 'stingers' because of the burning and stinging type of pain. When the cause is inflammation of the nerves, it is often called the Parsonage-Turner syndrome.

    The severity of this condition is highly variable, and dependent on the amount of damage caused to the nerves. Brachial plexus injury following surgery usually has a good prognosis. Recovery times range from 2 weeks to 2 years.

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    pain in one arm, shoulder pain that shoots to the arm, arm weakness, numbness in one arm, shoulder pain
    Symptoms that never occur with brachial plexopathy (shoulder nerve issue):
    pain in the front middle part of the neck
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  2. 2.Upper Arm Bone Infection (Osteomyelitis)

    Osteomyelitis of the upper arm is a bacterial or fungal infection of the bone, typically caused by Staph Aureus (40-50% of the time). It is difficult to diagnose as the infection can come from a break in the skin at the area or anywhere else in the body that spreads by blood.

    Improvement during a 6-week treatment with antibiotics

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    moderate fever, constant upper arm pain, spontaneous upper arm pain, warm red upper arm swelling, painful surgical site
    Symptoms that always occur with upper arm bone infection (osteomyelitis):
    constant upper arm pain, spontaneous upper arm pain
    Urgency:
    Hospital emergency room
  3. 3.Bruised Tricep

    A bruise is the damage of the blood vessels that return blood to the heart (the capillaries and veins), which causes pooling of the blood. This explains the blue/purple color of most bruises. Bruises of the tricep are common, often due to minor injury.

    Bruises tend to begin healing within one week.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    constant upper arm pain, tricep injury, pain in one tricep, swelling of one arm, upper arm bruise
    Symptoms that always occur with bruised tricep:
    tricep injury, constant upper arm pain
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment

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  4. 4.Bicep Bruise

    A bruise is the damage of the blood vessels that return blood to the heart (the capillaries and veins), which causes pooling of the blood. This explains the blue/purple color of most bruises. Bruises of the bicep are common due to minor injuries.

    Bruises tend to begin healing within one week.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    constant upper arm pain, recent bicep injury, pain in one bicep, swelling of one arm, upper arm bruise
    Symptoms that always occur with bicep bruise:
    recent bicep injury, constant upper arm pain
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  5. 5.Cellulitis

    Facial cellulitis is a skin infection that typically comes from other parts of the face like the mouth or the sinuses and needs antibiotic treatment. Symptoms can be pain, redness, warmth and swelling of the affected area.

    Dependent on severity of infection

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    fever, chills, facial redness, swollen face, face pain
    Symptoms that always occur with cellulitis:
    facial redness, area of skin redness
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  6. 6.Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (Crps)

    Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a chronic pain condition which may happen after an injury, either to a nerve or to tissue in the affected area. It causes intense pain, usually in the arms, hands, legs, or feet.

    Unfortunately, CRPS is a life-long condition that may get worse over time.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    pain in one arm, pain in one leg, pain in one foot, tremor, fatigue
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  7. 7.Compartment Syndrome

    Compartment syndrome is a serious condition that involves increased pressure in a muscle compartment. It can lead to muscle and nerve damage and problems with blood flow.

    Prognosis is highly variable after surgery and depends on how rapidly you are treated.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    arm numbness, hand numbness, foot numbness, pain in one leg, thigh numbness
    Urgency:
    Hospital emergency room

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Severe Upper Arm Pain

  • Q.Where on your upper arm is the pain?
  • Q.Did you recently experience an injury to the upper arm area?
  • Q.Have any of your muscles gotten much smaller (wasted away)?
  • Q.Does your pain continue into the night?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, try our severe upper arm pain symptom checker to find out more.

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Severe Upper Arm Pain Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced severe upper arm pain have also experienced:

    • 19% Pain in One Shoulder
    • 7% Severe Shoulder Pain
    • 5% Pain in One Arm
  • People who have experienced severe upper arm pain had symptoms persist for:

    • 37% Over a Month
    • 22% Less Than a Week
    • 20% Less Than a Day
  • People who have experienced severe upper arm pain were most often matched with:

    • 60% Upper Arm Bone Infection (Osteomyelitis)
    • 30% Brachial Plexopathy (Shoulder Nerve Issue)
    • 10% Bruised Tricep
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

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