Non-Injury Related Arm Problems

Whether you’re a dedicated athlete or a sedentary office worker, minor arm problems are universally common. Small arm problems are commonplace and range from bruises and cuts to twisted ankles and muscle cramps. Most of these issues go away on their own and are treatable by simple at-home methods like rest, over-the-counter medication, and icing the affected area.

More serious injuries, like broken bones or torn ligaments, may require more intensive treatment, including prescription medication, physical rehabilitation, and in some cases, surgery.

People who lead active lifestyles, like professional athletes or people with particularly intensive exercise regimens, are at higher risk of developing arm problems. Older people are likely to develop muscle-related arm issues, as muscles weaken with age, and children are more likely to suffer arm injuries due to their active and rambunctious nature.

Common Problems

The most common noninjury-related arm problems include:


  • Overuse injuries: Using the same part of the body over and over to complete a strenuous task, whether it be working construction or playing tennis, can cause pressure and strain on the arm, particularly on the elbow. This strain and pressure can lead to issues like tendinitis, bursitis, and carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Joint pain: Repetitive motions can strain the elbow, causing swelling and stiffness. Conditions like osteoarthritis can slowly deteriorate the tendons in the elbow, exacerbating these symptoms.
  • Hormone changes: Pregnancy and PMS (premenstrual syndrome) can cause swelling and tenderness, especially in the hands.
  • Lymphedema: A blockage in the lymphatic (blood-related) system can cause swelling and irregular blood flow to the arms.
  • Symptoms of heart attacks: Sometimes swelling or irregular circulation can be symptoms of greater medical issues, like heart attacks or strokes. Sometimes, a pain in the left arm can be the first sign of an oncoming heart attack.

Most minor injuries will go away on their own, but if your symptoms do not subside or if you suspect they may be indicative of a bigger medical condition, get in touch with your doctor to discuss appropriate treatment options.