Why Does My Arm Hurt? How Can I Get Arm Nerve Pain Relief?

man seeking arm nerve pain relief

Your arm is full of nerves. When these nerves are irritated or damaged by injury, illness, inflammation, or compression, you can feel upper extremity pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness. Treatment for arm nerve pain relief will vary depending on the underlying cause.

Keep reading to learn about some of the most common nerve injuries and conditions that cause nerve pain and what it can feel like, find out how nerve pain is treated, and get answers to patients’ frequently asked questions about arm nerve pain relief options.

Conditions That Cause Nerve Pain in the Arm

Examples of nerve damage include a pinched or compressed nerve, physical or chemical damage to a nerve, a nerve that didn’t heal properly after surgery or injury, or secondary nerve pain associated with a disease or illness (e.g., diabetes).

Some of the most common conditions and injuries that could be behind your arm nerve pain include:

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Brachial Plexus Injuries

The brachial plexus is a complex network of nerves that arise from the neck and control all the muscle and sensory functions of the arm. 

Due to the unique anatomy of brachial plexus injuries, the way they present in patients will vary widely, from the limitation of a single joint to complete arm dysfunction. Treating these injuries requires careful diagnosis and a customized arm nerve pain relief approach.

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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is the most common nerve compression syndrome. It occurs when the median nerve gets compressed as it travels through the carpal tunnel in your wrist. Numbness and pain can extend up your forearm, into the elbow, and occasionally as far up as your shoulder and neck. 

Carpal tunnel syndrome can be caused by activities that involve high force and repetition of the fingers or wrist or prolonged use of vibrating tools.

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, women are three times more likely to develop this condition than men.

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

The second most common nerve compression syndrome is cubital tunnel syndrome. It occurs when the ulnar nerve gets compressed as it runs through the cubital tunnel or a groove on the back side of your inner elbow.

Cubital tunnel syndrome can occur with chronic pressure, like after leaning your elbows on a table for an extended period. It has been linked to various activities such as pulling, lifting, or reaching at work or exercising.

Learn How Cubital Tunnel Surgery Helped a Young Mom Get Pain Relief

Nerve Injuries Caused by Lacerations and Crushing Accidents

If your arm nerves are severely cut or compressed during a  trauma, you may experience many symptoms, including loss of function, weakness, and pain that disrupts your quality of life.

Devastating arm crush injuries and lacerations happen in various ways, from being in car accidents or when things go awry when using industrial manufacturing tools or heavy machinery on farms.

Nerve pain in these situations can be debilitating. Neuromas or painful nerve endings can form in these scenarios leading to unrelenting pain and hypersensitivity. Minor procedures can be performed to either fix the nerve injury or treat the neuroma, which can often provide substantial improvement in both pain and quality of life. 

Learn More About IHTSC’s Peripheral Nerve Injury and Limb Pain Program

Radial Tunnel Syndrome

Your radial nerve is responsible for many different arm movements. It allows you to rotate your forearm, extend your elbow, and move your wrist and fingers. When the nerve reaches your elbow, it passes through a collection of muscles called the radial tunnel.

Radial tunnel syndrome occurs when the nerve is pinched or compressed as it enters the radial tunnel, creating pressure on your radial nerve.

Symptoms Often Associated With Arm Nerve Pain

When a nerve in your arm is pinched or damaged, it becomes inflamed, causing pain and other related symptoms, including:

  • Tingling “Pins And Needles” Sensations
  • Nerve Pain Running Down Arm, Often Referred to as “Zinging” or “Electrical Shocks”
  • Burning
  • Numbness or Loss of Sensation
  • Muscle Weakness
  • Loss of Movement

What Does Nerve Damage in the Arm Feel Like?

As one of the many classes of chronic pain, nerve pain (also called neuropathic pain) is complex. Its sensations vary depending on the type of nerve damage or irritation a patient has experienced.

However, regardless of its cause, patients often describe their nerve pain using similar words, including:

  • Burning 
  • Tingling
  • Shooting
  • Sharpness
  • Stabbing
  • Prickling

How Long Will Arm Nerve Pain Last?

The duration of arm nerve pain will vary depending on the underlying cause.

In most cases, arm nerve pain is temporary and will resolve with expert treatment from a specialist. However, for other patients, their arm nerve pain can be chronic, lasting for months or even years. 

If you’ve been experiencing arm nerve pain that persists and affects your quality of life, have a conversation with your doctor about treatment options that are right for you.

Is There Anything You Can Do to Treat Arm Nerve Pain at Home?

Some self-care measures that can provide arm nerve pain relief for some patients include:

  • Applying Heat or Ice to the Affected Area
  • Taking Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers, Like Ibuprofen
  • Avoiding Activities That Aggravate the Pain to Allow Your Nerve Time to Heal
  • Using Supportive Splints and Braces
  • Gentle Exercising, Massaging and Stretching to Reduce Pressure on Your Nerve

How Do You Know if Nerve Pain in Your Arm Is Serious?

Seek professional help for nerve pain in your arm if it:

  • Is Accompanied by Numbness or Weakness in Your Arm 
  • Interferes With Daily Activities 
  • Doesn’t Improve With Self-Care Measures
  • Worsens Over Time

What Can Happen if You Don’t Get Treatment for Arm Nerve Pain?

If you don’t get treatment for arm nerve pain, not only can your condition worsen and interfere with your ability to participate in daily living activities, but your pain can become permanent, causing disability.

Don’t wait to get care for arm nerve pain. A specialist can help by diagnosing your condition and developing a treatment plan that will help relieve your symptoms and improve your quality of life.

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Arm Nerve Pain Treatment Options

Several safe and effective therapies and procedures treat nerve pain in arm conditions and injuries. These modern treatments and advanced surgical solutions can provide arm nerve pain relief, improve strength and mobility, and restore sensation and function to the upper extremities.

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Preventing Nerve Pain in Your Arm

There are a few things you can do to help avoid nerve arm pain.

Do you work in a job, play a sport, or have a favorite activity that requires you to make the same motion over and over with your arm? If so, avoid pain caused by these repetitive motions by taking breaks often and warming up properly before starting. 

If you have any conditions that put you at higher risk, such as diabetes or thyroid disorders, work closely with your doctor to manage them to lower your chances of arm nerve pain. 

FAQs About Arm Nerve Pain Relief

Can You See Arm Nerve Damage in an MRI?

Yes, with very specialized MRI machines, arm nerve damage can be detected by an MRI. This imaging test can show whether there is pressure on the nerves in your arm.

How Does a Specialist Fix Nerve Damage in Your Arm?

There are various ways to treat nerve damage in your arm. 

One of the most common options is surgery, which can release pressure on the nerves,  repair damaged nerves, or treat painful neuromas with nerve transfers (TMR). Other treatments include physical therapy, injections, and medications.

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What Exactly Is Performed in Nerve Pain Surgery?

Nerve pain surgery is a surgical procedure used to treat nerve damage. Two of the most common types include nerve release surgery (relieves pressure on damaged nerves) and nerve repair surgery (repairs damaged nerves). 

During nerve release surgery, a surgeon reduces pressure by cutting away the tissues that are pressing on them. This can improve mobility and provide arm nerve pain relief.

During nerve repair surgery, an upper extremity surgeon repairs a patient’s damaged nerves by using one of a number of techniques. One such technique uses a healthy nerve from another part of the body to connect the two ends of the damaged nerve. Others include using synthetic tubes or donor nerve to bridge a gap. This allows signals to travel from one end of the nerve to the other, which can help improve function.

How Long Does It Take to Get Arm Nerve Pain Relief After Having Surgery?

The time it takes for nerve pain to go away after surgery varies depending on your condition, the type of surgery you had, and your recovery.

It generally takes several weeks for arm nerve pain to improve after surgery. However, some people may experience nerve pain for months or even years after surgery, though most note improvement from their starting state.

Get Arm Nerve Pain Relief at IHTSC

The nerve injury and limb pain experts at IHTSC have provided state-of-the-art care for patients with complex nerve injuries for over 50 years. We offer advanced surgical and non-surgical solutions to ease nerve pain, improve strength and mobility, and restore sensation and function in the upper and lower limbs.

Our specialists are here to help you identify the underlying cause of your nerve pain and create a comprehensive, customized plan to provide you with arm nerve pain relief.

You don’t have to live with arm nerve pain. Call us at (317) 751-5904 to set up an appointment today.

 Learn How IHTSC Helps People With Peripheral Nerve Pain

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Disclaimer: The materials on this website have been prepared for informational purposes only and do not constitute advice. You should not act or rely upon any medical information on this website without a physician’s advice. The information contained within this website is not intended to serve as a substitution for a thorough examination from a qualified healthcare provider. The display of this information is not intended to create a health care provider-patient relationship between the Indiana Hand to Shoulder Center and you.