Arm pain may be one sided, or affect both arms simultaneously. It may be constant or intermittent with varying intensity that depends on individual tolerance and extent of injury.  Pain is a subjective experience and encompasses a number of different types of pain that may be described as:

  • a dull ache 
  • throbbing or pulsating pain 
  • shooting pain 
  • burning pain 
  • pinching pain 
  • poking or stabbing pain


The arm (upper limb) is made up of a number of bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments, along with their various nerve supplies, and all are susceptible to injury and damage that can lead to pain. However at times, pain in the arm may be caused by a damage at a distant point and this is known as referred pain . The upper limb is mainly composed of muscle and bone and muscle pain is a common type of arm pain that often occurs after strain or exertion. Joint pain may affect the shoulder (e.g. frozen shoulder), elbow (e.g. tennis elbow), wrist (e.g. carpal tunnel syndrome) or the small joints of the fingers (e.g. rheumatoid arthritis). There is another type of pain which seems to come from a body part that has been removed, such as an amputated hand or leg, and this is called phantom pain . Neuropathic or nerve pain may be due to degeneration of the nerve, as in a stroke , multiple sclerosis or from nerve compression ( pinched nerve ), nerve inflammation, or infection of the nerve (shingles), where pain can be severe. Psychogenic pain is the perception of pain with no clear cause, often a result of psychological factors like anxiety.

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