Arm pain (brachalgia)

If you have pain going down your arm it is possible that this is due to a trapped nerve in the neck. The nerves that come out from the neck provide sensation to the leg and if they are trapped or irritated then pain may be felt in the region of the body that they normally provide sensation to. Depending on which nerve is trapped will determine where you feel the pain. The trapping could be as a result of a disc prolapse, thickening of the bones and ligaments, a change in the alignment of the spine or other growths. The majority of trapped nerve causes settle down within a few weeks and if the pain going down the arm does not settle you may want to consider discussing this with your GP or a specialist.

It is important to remember that arm pain may also be caused by problems from other areas such as the shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand or even due to a trapped nerve in the arm rather than in the neck.

Brachalgia is pain that is caused by irritation of the nerves of the neck and is akin to sciatica pain being pain in the leg as a result of a irritated nerve in the lower back. Classically someone will experience pain in the arm past the shoulder that goes to the wrist and even into the fingers. This may be associated with pins and needles, numbness or even weakness. Any worsening of these symptoms is a reason to consult an expert. The majority of episodes do settle with time, but it may be worth getting some treatment to reduce the pain and discomfort whilst this happens. Occasionally arthritis of some of the joints can present in a similar manner but are less likely to cause the other problems of the pins and needles, numbness or weakness.

Diabetes or other diseases that can involve the nerves may also produce similar symptoms for example carpal tunnel syndrome, where a nerve is trapped at the wrist by a thickened ligament.

If the pain does not settle further treatment will be determined by the cause of the pain and for this reason it is worth seeing someone who treats neck problems or upper limb problems.