Non-Specific Arm Pain

What Causes Arm Pain?

Arm pain can have various causes, ranging in severity from 'troubling' to 'critical'.  Finding the true cause means ruling out or confirming each possibility – in other words, diagnosis.

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Diagnosis is usually a complex process due to the sheer number of possible causes and related symptoms.  In order to diagnose arm pain, we could:

  • Research the topic
  • Find a doctor with the time
  • Use a diagnostic computer system.
The process is the same, whichever method is used.

Step 1: List all Possible Causes

We begin by identifying the disease conditions which have "arm pain" as a symptom.  Here are eight of many possibilities (more below):
  • Herniated Cervical Disc
  • Angina
  • Osteomyelitis
  • T4 Syndrome
  • Heart Disease
  • Compartment Syndrome
  • Periarteritis
  • Peripheral Vascular Disease

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

We then identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
apple-shaped body when overweight
deep chest pain
hiccups
acute abdominal pain
undigested fat in stools
long-term low-carb dieting
heart attack(s) in mother
history of birth control pill use
rapid pulse rate
very low HDL cholesterol level
very angry/hostile disposition
high uric acid level
... and more than 20 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of arm pain:
Cause Probability Status
Periarteritis 99% Confirm
Peripheral Vascular Disease 29% Unlikely
Herniated Cervical Disc 25% Unlikely
Heart Disease 1% Ruled out
Osteomyelitis 1% Ruled out
T4 Syndrome 0% Ruled out
Angina 0% Ruled out
Compartment Syndrome 0% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

If you indicate problems with limbs, The Analyst™ will ask further questions including this one:
Do you suffer from pain in your arms that is hard to pinpoint?
Possible responses:
→ Don't know
→ No
→ Yes, slight
→ Yes, moderate
→ Yes, severe
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate absence of non-specific arm pain, non-specific arm pain or severe non-specific arm pain, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
Compartment Syndrome

Compartment syndrome usually occurs in the legs, but very occasionally affects the arms.

Coronary Disease / Heart Attack

Arm pain, usually in the left arm, can signal a heart attack or impending heart attack.

Osteoarthritis

Degenerative wear and tear may affect the ligaments and musculature surrounding the elbow, resulting in chronic diffuse arm pain or pain that is poorly defined about the elbow.

Torticollis (Loxia, "Wryneck")

The pain of torticollis may spread to the arms or hands.

Concerned or curious about your health?  Try The Analyst™
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