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Pain in Left Arm - How To Deal With It?

Why Does My Left Arm Hurt?

A common assumption with pain on the left side of your body – specifically pain in left arm is that you are experiencing a heart attack (angina) or another heart-related ailment. While it could be a heart attack, there are actually many other issues that could be the actual cause of the pain.

Pain in Left Arm: Is it a Heart Attack?

A chest view of the pain zones affected in a myocardial infarction; the dark red are the more common areas while light red (including the arms) covers other possible areas.

A chest view of the pain zones affected in a myocardial infarction; the dark red are the more common areas while light red (including the arms) covers other possible areas.

Pain in Left Arm: Heart Issues

While there are many different causes of pain in the left arm, the possibility that it's related to your heart can't be completely dismissed.

If you are experiencing a heart condition like angina, the pain in your left arm will also be accompanied by pain in your chest, or the pain itself will radiate downwards from your shoulder to your arm.

A heart attack can be felt as either dull or shooting pain so if you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should head to an emergency room. Heart attacks are extremely serious and symptoms that mimic those mentioned are definitely of concern and should not be ignored at any cost.

Left-Arm Pain: Stress and Psychology

Pain on the left side of the body can also be caused by psychological issues and stress. While most people would not think that their emotional state could cause physical pain, psychological issues cannot be so easily dismissed.

People experience stress for many different reasons. When the stress gets to be too much, however, you may start to feel a physical strain in addition to the emotional and mental ones. Generally, if pain in your left arm is caused by chronic stress, the pain will likely be dull and heavy.

Physical pain during a panic attack or when under intense stress is more common than you might think: a panic attack has similar physical symptoms, in terms of heart rate and blood pressure, to a heart attack.

Pain in Left Arm: Overuse and Physical Activity


The most common cause of pain in your left arm is actually due to overuse.

It is quite common for those with a primarily sedentary lifestyle to overdo physical activities when they first begin exercising. Unless you take care to warm up properly and stretch out all of your muscles in advance, injury is a very real possibility.

The easiest way to determine if the pain is due to overuse would be to examine your activities over the past 24 to 48 hours to see if you've done any new activities recently. In most instances this simple analysis will help you determine the root cause of your pain and in some cases, what activities to avoid in the future! Treating this pain is typically a matter of waiting and over-the-counter pain medication. However, if your pain continues for a significant period of time a consultation with a qualified medical professional is very definitely recommended.

Pain in Left Arm: Sleep, Posture and Bad Circulation

The symptoms that characterize pain due to sleeping incorrectly and those suffering with bad circulation are somewhat similar. In both cases it is possible that your arm feels “dead” or the converse that you have a pins and needles feeling in your arm and it feels tingly. The treatment in both scenarios is rather different however:

  • Sleep and Posture Issues: Quite often sleeping on your arm in an awkward position or simply standing in one position for too long a period of time—straining one part of your body more than the other—can be the cause of pain. In most instances, simply changing the way in which you are standing or sleeping can make all the difference in addressing this issue. While the pain due this cause can be acute, it is generally short in terms of duration and medication is not required.
  • Bad Circulation Issues: Generally treating issues with bad circulation is a bit more complicated requiring medication after positive analysis. As bad circulation is a condition that affects your whole body, while the feeling might be focused on your left arm, the issues are often larger.

As mentioned, even though the symptoms in both cases are similar, treatment varies significantly. So, if you experience symptoms similar to this try to determine which scenario applies to you. Generally pain in the left arm related to sleep and posture will pass fairly quickly whereas if the problem is related to bad circulation it will be more chronic in nature. If the latter scenario applies to you, a visit to a qualified medical practitioner is very much recommended so that appropriate tests may be carried out.

Medication to Treat Left Arm Pain

A particular medication or medication in general might be the culprit of the pain, despite it being a solution in other cases.

If you have recently introduced prescription drugs into your system for any other condition or reason outside of your left arm pain, it is worth checking to see what what the expected side effects are. This may include arm pain or pain in the left side of your body. However, even if a list of expected side effects doesn't include it, a consultation with a medical professional may still be worth it. In some cases, alternative medicines or dosages are an option simply so that you can completely rule this out as the possible cause of the pain.

Conclusion: Consult a Medical Professional for Left Arm Pain

In conclusion, there can be various reasons for the pain in your left arm. While pain in the left arm might be due to an associated heart condition, it may not be the only culprit or even the culprit at all for you. One should always consult a qualified medical practitioner if there is ever any concern so that appropriate tests may be carried out to find out the actual, confirmed cause. Proper treatment can then be determined from there.


Please Submit Your Comment If You Have Anything to Say About Arm Pain!

Lesley on September 14, 2018:

The pain started in my shoulder and its going down the arm right down to my wrist. Its just like toothache

Dimakatso Tsotetsi on July 30, 2018:

I have a pain on my left hand side for about 5 months now and it pain full what can I do please help

Mary on February 09, 2018:

When I hold my left arm up, I can feel liquid draining from the arm, and the pain decreases. It feels like it's a circulation problem.

Kathy on July 04, 2017:

it hurt where me muscle is at the dr told me it was muscle spasms when i was at work i hear it pop and i have be in pain all night and today what could it be can u help me out

how long am i going to be in pain

lee on December 21, 2014:

pain In my left shoulder in the side of my face and neck this is on going the food some time I think it had some to do with what I eat or drink. also i notice that after getting a flu shot my arm had stared back hurting so I feel that shot has cause some of the pain am having today

DEV on September 09, 2014:


Jamie on September 08, 2014:

I get a cramping ache down my left arm when my heart rate goes up while exercising. The ache goes away when I stop exercising and my heart slows down. I'm wondering if it is a circulation problem.

prashant singh on August 21, 2014:

i have suffring from pain in my right arm within last 5 months give me some solutions . pain started whil i playing cricket .

shirley on August 09, 2014:

I have a sharp pain on my left shoulder and at the same time left swollen hand. Im dizzy and headache.

Neelam satija on September 10, 2013:

I feel pain in left arm sometimes, not always. my pain is not severe, its bearable. sometimes i feel uneasy for breathng. i have frequent gastric problem? please help me what could be the reason? is it heart related. i don't have pain in either of the body part.

Valerie on September 07, 2013:

I have upper left arm pain and back pain x 2 years. The back pain would shut me down and my arm feels like it is about to explode. Doing regular tasks or doing nothing would initiate the pain. At the present time I am taking tramadol and Gabepentin. These meds have helped my back but not my arm. In September I am starting a pain management course on how to live with chronic pain. I hope this will benefit me.

peter on August 02, 2013:

i get pain in my left arm from my elbow don the forearm to my pinky and the finger next to it ,also the same pain in my left leg from my knee to my two small toes .

i have sufered this from primary school ,i am now in my fifties ,i have had all types of tests mri ,bloods you name it i have had it done ,but still no clue as to its cause .

its been suggested it might all be in my head ,if this is so why do i wake up from a deep sleep crying in pain ,for no reason it comes on at anytime in the day .

i do not have a single day i am not in pain.

this is putting a huge strain on my wife .

i am on oramorph oral solution to combat the pain , it is the only thing that gives me any escape from pain , but there is always is a yig and a yang with tacking this stuff for as long as i have .

i am at my wits end and don't know what to next so i can have some sort of life without pain

Ian on February 25, 2013:

The article does not mention arthritis, a very common cause of chronic limb aches and pains.

robert on November 27, 2012:

not sereer pain but when i smoke it gets a liiile wurse

Mike on November 27, 2012:

I had a pretty sever pain in my left arm about two years ago. The pain seemed to originate in my upper arm. It was the worst at night. I would wake up 2-3 times at night from pain and would feel completely exhausted the following day. I didn't go to a doctor, don't ask me why (although I think you know why). I took pain killers (acetaminophen, ibuprofen) and I used an analgesic gel on my arm.

Now the good part. Slowly, the pain had disappeared. I don't remember how it happened and I don't remember for how long exactly it lasted, but I'm pretty sure it went away gradually. I began sleeping well, the pain didn't bother me as much, and then the pain went away completely.

The bad news is, I'm now having a very similar pain in my LEFT arm. It's been about a year and a half since my right arm healed itself and now it's the left arm. The pain started out with just a discomfort when I was lifting my arm or when I was putting a cloth on. This lasted a couple of months (maybe longer). The discomfort grew and grew and now the pain is pretty severe and I feel it all the time, even when my arm is at rest.

So, I'm doing the same thing now. I'm taking pain killers and I'm using an analgesic gel. It is the absolute worst at night. It kind of goes away during the day, but never completely. I get through the day more or less, but I'm scared of the nights. The pain gets worse when I'm emotionally stressed, which leads me to believe that it's stress related, but who really knows. Right now, I'm pretty miserable and my only hope is that it will go away like my right arm pain did 1.5 years ago. The other things that I'm trying right now are: staying calm and resisting stress; watching my diet (less caffeine, sugar, spicy food); trying to be positive and ignore the pain as much as possible. Hang on guys, we are going to get through this :)

Gloria Adams on November 26, 2012:

I am having a bad pain on my left arm some times it feel like the blood purser cup is coming on and off it looks like my are is goning to blow up

Last Friday I stayed all night in the hospital and the could not tell me any thing . They said my heart was fine . Please help Gloria

jasss on October 10, 2012:

i have left arm pain toothache and im always stressed can it be that?

damien emerson on September 17, 2012:

hi i just recently getting sharp pains in my left forearm and i don't know why. ive never had them before tonite and it hurts where you'd take ur pulse and an inch away towards the side of my forearm my pinky is on. am iin need of med. attention?

Emmanuel Kariuki from Nairobi, Kenya on September 05, 2012:

Great hub by Iberkenbosch, but he needs to get back and talk to his readers. Are you listening Iberkenbosch?

marie mcneil on June 23, 2012:

had stroke bout yr and a half ago while i was asleep and left side of my face is still numb but been having pain's in my left arm for last 7hrs wot do i do

reneelesley@yahoo.com on June 11, 2012:

i have left arm pain and chest pain, both legs pain,ankle swell,stomach pain,feel like i cant breath,doctors do nothing for me, i think because i have no insurance or they just don't care

Frank on June 07, 2012:

I get a pain in my left arm, between my elbow and hand, IF I lift my left arm up to shoulder level. It "feels" like Tennis Elbow, which I suffer from, BUT I'm right-handed !!! Any ideas what's going on with my left arm ?!?

Erick on May 27, 2012:

This has only happen to my twice now , at night out of no where my left arm starts to hurt causeing me not to sleep an to be in pain . The pain is very uncomfortable an I often can't Handel it I need help fast

Andy Aitch from UK & South East Asian Region on May 22, 2012:

Well written Hub Ivo.

Men in particular, are quite a stubborn bunch, and we all too often fob something off as nothing to worry about. I wonder how many men the world over die unnecessarily, either by not visiting a doctor through embarrassment or fear of getting a potentially bad diagnosis?

I was surprised to hear a medical professional on TV a while back say that anyone can have a heart attack at anytime, for all manner of reasons, even the fit and healthy!

Anyone with any health concerns really ought to get them checked out, for peace of mind if nothing else, and by doing so does not make the individual a hypochondriac, another label many try to avoid.

Andy Aitch

Rabbani on May 21, 2012:

Hi, i had an uneasyness in my left underarm some times comes some time gone. Kindly tell me the soluction for get out of it.

Cheryl on May 18, 2012:

Iv had a dull aching feeling in my left arm for about a month now sometimes its in my shoulder and my hand but the weird thing is it doesn't seem to be there when i dnt think about it which got me wondering if this cauld be all stress related Ill be goin for a ECH in a few days and hopefully that's ok i would really like to find out as the worse thing about all this is not knowing.

bev on May 08, 2012:

i wake up every morning my left arm is freezing and very painful. i have got a heart murmur and was thinking it was to do with that :)

pamela clay on May 05, 2012:

what could be wrong

pamela clay on May 03, 2012:

hi my name is pamela and I woke up last july with all th is pain in my right shoulder blade I have been to my family dr which sent me to a orthro pede. dr which said i had calcium deposits it can use my right had at all I cant even pickup a coffeecup my famliy dr then sent me to to a nurologist he did a nerve test on it then ihad a mri done and the told me all the pain and the reson why i cant use my arm was because i had disc compressing on my spinal cord so i just recently had a ct nerveblock done but the next morning i woke up didn't even know where i was and i ended back in the hospital which they ran all sorts of test two mris two catscans each time with the dye my blood presser always is low between 88/63 98/63 between those areas then they did like a spinal tap a took spinal fluid they said i had a little protien in it that was it i keep a lot of headachs my neck and my shoulder blade hurts alot and the c6 and c7 disc still hurt but ihave know reflexs in my right arm now my right leg is numb and weak what could it be

Harold on April 19, 2012:

I feel the left upper arm pair. is related to chronic high stress

Anurag on April 14, 2012:

Thanks Iberkenbosch for the useful article, I at times experience shooting pain in my left arm and fortunately not accompanied by an associated heart pain. As from your article I think the stress diagnosis fits me because I actually have to work under stressful conditions and for long hours.

Ann Kate Aliba on April 14, 2012:

Have a repeated pain in my left arm. when i massage the area it subside but leaving a sharp pain in the elbow. At times i get a mild headache aswell on the left side. I have no money to take me to the hospital. what first aid can i do for releaf? Thanx

Anna on April 11, 2012:

My pain started about 5 days ago ~ left arm from shoulder down to elbow ~ pain killers don't take away the pain. tried topical rubs ~ no help. No pain in chest so Doctor at day clinic said it could be from a virus or muscle. feels like a charley horse in my arm ~ I can't concentrate on anything when it happens which is almost all the time. stressing me out because I have a hard time at work and at home doing anything. Getting dressed activates the pain first thing in morning. My blood pressure was 110 over 70 at that time ~ which is weird because I take coversyl plus with a duritec for water retention 4mg once a day ~ my blood pressure is usually 140 over 80 ~ here I am trying anything that will work ~ hot epsom salt bath. I will try cherry juice and see if it makes it better. report back in a few days. good luck everyone ~ Hope you all the best in becoming pain free!

Max on April 11, 2012:

I have pain in my left side of my stomach due to a strong emotional, psychological and stressful situation.

N..D SIYAL on April 05, 2012:


mearj khan on April 04, 2012:

l have left left leg and left arm and shoulder pain at the same time when l have high blood pressure ,i am 29years old and have this for the last 3years i have treated and consuted with many doctors,but finali a doctor told me that when u have blood pressure and constipation u have experiace this pain ,,so it is right ,but pleas consult me that how i can get relief by this trouble??

v m shaikh on April 01, 2012:

hi dr i have pain in left arm from shoulder to fingers like tinkling & needle from last 2 days back ( vmshaikh@aol.com )

BB on March 27, 2012:

I have pain in my chest and down my left shoulderinto my arm. It has been killing me hard. I hoped it would let up but it got worst. It's hard I'm going to the Emergency room this day! Thanks I learn a lot.

Jeremy on March 27, 2012:

I had a sharp radiating pain in my bicep and forearm for about three years. It was so severe just moving my arm would cause intense pain. I began attending church and praying for relief. Shortly after I had a conversation with a Physical Therapist who recommended i try nerve glides. After a week the pain was completely gone and i am now able to move my arm freely without any discomfort. I went to countless doctors who all said i had tennis elbow and never accepting the diagnosis I continued to seek opinions from many professionals. I feel very blessed and fortunate that God answered my prayer and pointed me in the right direction and to help those who may be experiencing the same discomfort. The nerve glides i did were ulnar and median nerve glides. There are countless ways to perform them which can be easily found on the internet. Just be sure not to be over aggressive when performing the stretch. As soon as you feel the pull stop as over-stetching can actually be counterproductive and make matters worse. Hope this helps

cindy on March 27, 2012:

I woke up this morning with pain in my left arm...its a numb heavy and tingling feeling around my bicep muscle. I went to the E.R. and they said it was muscle strain and my blood pressure was elevated 138/90. I was given a 60 mg of Toradol by shot and 500 mg of actaminophen. And my arm still hurts I am starting to feel nausea. I have a follow up appt. With my M.D. at the end of week. I also suffer from anxiety so I hope this is a symptom of it and nothing major!

rachael on March 26, 2012:

I had pain in my left hand and the neck for quite a few days and the diagnosis was simply due to stress.

Mrs Darden on March 24, 2012:

For 11mths I've been sufferring from severe leg and back pain. At times, I would have. partial paralysis in my left leg. After going from doctor to doctor and being given narcotics for chronic back pain, I finally have a diagnosis. An orthropaedic doctor scheduled an MRI and found a herniated disk in my lumbar region that was compressing my nerves and causing this severe pain and paralysis. I was scheduled for epidural cortizone injections dueto my fear of removing the disc. Its been 10days since the 1st injection and I havnt had much back pain but still have pain radiating dwn my leg and NOW my left arm. No chest pain, jjust the left leg and left arm. I'm curious 2 know if this shot has caused this pain in my arm. Its not tingling but sharp shooting pains from rite above the fold to my wrist. I'm wondering if I shld be alarmed because the pain is kinded unbearable at times. Lortabs help temporarily and heat and ice doesn't help at all. Has anyone experienced this before?

guest on March 18, 2012:

how come nobody answers these questions????

Marchant on March 14, 2012:

I have a pain in my left arm just below my elbow and sometimes it feels like somethings stepping on my chest any idea what it could be please reply to marchantcoetzee@gmail.com

Bina Lingappa on March 12, 2012:

I have constant left arm pain at the shoulder and the muscle near the joint of the arm and shoulder. Due to the muscle pain my palms become numb. I also get pain in the left side of the neck.

m on March 05, 2012:

I have this pain in my left arm; it sorta throbs worse then subsides, about every 30 seconds or so. It goes from my shoulder all the way down to my fingertips. My hand gets cold and numb on and off. Feels like I have a rubber-band wound too tightly around my shoulder/armpit.

I’ve had it before on the right side and it went away after about 4 hours of agony! Bengay massage seemed to help a bit. Pain killers don’t touch it. Recently started Zoloft, but as that is working well, I hope it is something else.

Going to try the black cherry juice; if that helps I will post again.

Glad to know I am not the only one.

joan stanley on March 02, 2012:

had pain in my left arm,, since last october.. Pain killers rubbing stuff does not get rid of it....

chris mclaughlin on February 18, 2012:

iv had pain in my arm for about 5 months know.I have been to doctor and said its a stretched muscle it just doesn't seem to go away my hand starts to feel numb now wen my pain peaks please help

dr salik on February 18, 2012:

I have the pain in left arm from last six months not getting any relief

mike on February 17, 2012:

i have sholder pain in my left arm. hurts more at night when i sleep. need to find a solution to the problem .going to have surgery soon on my abdomin. don't want this to be a problem

nikkiii on February 14, 2012:

I sleep with legs bent often my knees and ankle joints are achy and swollen idk y. Got pains in my joints elsewhere too its a kinda Tingly feeling, i get it during a BM too

Deboriah on February 12, 2012:

I had elbow pain and the Doc told me I had bursitis.... She gave me meds and they made me sick at my stomach so I quit taking them. I heard about Black Cherry juice then purchased some at the Health Food Store... within one week it was gone. I took 2 tablespoons twice a day.

It's only pure black cherry juice so it won't hurt you....

TypeA on February 11, 2012:

Yes could do with a forum here. I've had a pain from my neck through the shoulder and down the back of my left arm for about a week. Funny thing is, it eases off when I eat something or burp. You can't get indigestion down the arm can you? I have acid reflux.

Belva on February 08, 2012:

I have pain in my left arm, mostly in the bicep area. It is like my arm is out of join. When I raise my arm even a little I have severe pain. I have some nasty sore spots in my back and neck. Perhaps a good masage will work them out.

Gina Erbin on February 05, 2012:

i woke up this morning with pain in my left arm. i have high cholesterol i hope this is unrelated to my arm pain im going to see a doc this week. i also have been experiencing left leg pain as well. What dom you thinks going on?

nick jagger on February 04, 2012:

i have pain on my left arm starting from my wrist to shoulder.

Joseph on January 24, 2012:

A lot of people complaining about pain, but no "How to Deal With It". So, any ideas?

I also have a dull pain in my left arm, which comes and goes frequently. It feels like I slept on in wrong; a dull pain.

Cherry89 on January 21, 2012:

I've been having pains in my left arm since December 2006, I've been on various medication and none of which have helped. I only ever had a blood test for it and since then it has escalated and the pain has spread everywhere, my life is having a massive effect because of this but I just don't know where to turn to any more the doctors are no help whatsoever.

Anita Bristol on January 20, 2012:

I have had severe lft arm pain since September 2011.It is anywhere in my arm and nothing I do relieves it except morthine liquid. I have had a MRI scan and nerve end tests which are all normal now I am going to have a CT scan on my chest.

Barbara Holland on January 19, 2012:

I have had numbness and pain in my left arm starting from the neck and going all the way down to my finger tips. I've had emg's and mri's all showing nothing. Still the pain and numbness remains. If my doctor wants me to do PT I'll just die. I've had PT before for other things and it does not help.

LorrOwe6@aol.com on January 03, 2012:



Michelle on December 26, 2011:

I been feeling for months now my chest tight I been having chest pains n my left arm b hurting sumtimes to idk wat it is I suffer from anxiety so im hoping datz da case n its nothing worst ...i wanna live my normal life im only 21 n goin thru dis ..thy hav done stress test ,ekg n etc n nothing idk wat to do ?

Michelle on December 26, 2011:

I been feeling for months now my chest tight I been having chest pains n my left arm b hurting sumtimes to idk wat it is I suffer from anxiety so im hoping datz da case n its nothing worst ...i wanna live my normal life im only 21 n goin thru dis ..thy hav done stress test ,ekg n etc n nothing idk wat to do ?

sandy on December 21, 2011:

pain shoots from top of arm worse at joint. funny thing is about same time this started my ankle aches like crazy, I haven't injured or fallen. that i can't sleep have felt a slight knob over my shin. could this be a clot. I am on Prexuim Plus and Adalat tablets for High blood pressure

LISALEE on December 19, 2011:


norman on December 19, 2011:

My pain starts at the elbow and travels up to my shoulder.the pain comes and goes night or day.

helen on December 15, 2011:

i have pain coming from my left shoulder right down into my left arm i have high blood presure for 15 years taking tablets it has gone up in the last week im very tired

Warren on December 07, 2011:

Yes, I would believe that many have suffered the same but keep in silence as many people have thought it's seems common to have aches and pains now and then due to our working lifestyle but they didn't realised this actually lead to more severe pain for the left arm due to long period of strain like http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Repetitive_strain_inj...

SP on December 07, 2011:

I been having very bad sharp pain on my left arm few weeks back and I been going to the GP for consultation. However, it seems GP couldn't further diagnose my cause of pain. I have to be referred to nearby hospital for further checks. The pain mingles me badly during the night and it is so painful till I couldn't get to sleep! It's a nice article that you have published! Thanks!

Signed off @ www.seopro.sg

calidog24 on December 05, 2011:

I have had pain in my left arm from the shoulder to elbow since Aug. My Dr. suggested light weights to work it out, after a month of this not working & pain sometimes severe, especially at night, I went back to my Dr. He then gave me an injection of a combo pain reliever. It gave me some relief for 2 wks. then it seemed like I pulled a muscle or something in my arm and went back to the same sever pain. I don't want to keep getting injections, I want to find out the cause. I live a very healthy lifestyle and this happened after may be doing some heavy weightlifting, working out, and my work involves sometimes lifting people out of wheelchairs, which during the summer was very often. Currently, my arm use is just normal routine lifting of grocery bags and 18 lb. babies sometimes, nothing very heavy. If anyone out there has natural, healthy suggestions, please respons as soon as possible. Thanks!

Cecilia gomez on November 25, 2011:

Hi I have had a pain in my left arm. I feel it numb at times and feel like the veins swell in my arm. It feels like my arm is brused when I bend it. I am 30 yrs old not a smoker anymore I have.2 kids alsi I have high blood pressure and pcos. Please help me. Should I be scared??

tk on November 25, 2011:

I have apain on my left hand and chest it was useful to visit you side

nice read on September 05, 2011:

When I had a heart attack I experienced pain in my left arm. Gladly it's over!

Nice Read!