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Can anxiety cause left arm pain?
There are many reasons why you may have left arm numbness, weakness, or pain. It could be psychological or physical. If you experience pain in your left arm, you should first have it evaluated by a medical doctor to be certain that you aren’t having a heart attack.
Anxiety can cause pain. When another condition is causing left arm pain, anxiety can make the pain worse. For example, anxiety can make you sensitive to seemingly insignificant pain, especially if you aren’t sure of the pain’s origin. If there is a concern that the pain could be the symptom of a serious problem, it can become increasingly upsetting, which can make the pain seem worse.
Left arm pain is not an isolated sign of anxiety, but typically a part of a more serious anxiety problem.
2. Heart attack
- discomfort/pressure in the center of the chest
- discomfort in the jaw, neck, back, or stomach
- shortness of breath
- sudden cold sweat
A heart attack is a life-threatening condition. If you experience left arm pain in conjunction with these other symptoms, you should call 911.
Angina is often a symptom of coronary artery disease and should be taken seriously. Talk with your doctor about your left arm pain and other symptoms to get a proper diagnosis of angina.
Pain in your left arm might be a symptom of a bone or tissue injury. Possible injuries include:
- bone fracture in the left arm or shoulder
- bursitis, when a bursa or sac of fluid between bone and soft tissue becomes inflamed
- carpal tunnel syndrome, or compression of one of the major nerves to the hand as it travels through the wrist
- herniated disk, or a tear in one of the cushioning disks between the bones of your spine
- rotator cuff tear
- tendonitis, or tendon inflammation
If, following a comprehensive assessment, your doctor determines anxiety is causing your left arm pain, the recommended treatment will most likely follow guidelines for treatment of other anxiety disorders.
That treatment might include:
- making lifestyle changes such as regular exercise, proper nutrition, and adequate sleep to reduce stress
- cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) focused on identifying, understanding, and changing your thinking and behavior patterns
- anti-anxiety medication
Popular anti-anxiety medications include:
- selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which leave more serotonin available in the body to improve mood
- serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), which increase the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine for mood improvement
- benzodiazepines such as alprazolam, clonazepam, diazepam, and lorazepam, which reduce physical symptoms such as muscular tension
- tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) such as amitriptyline, imipramine, and nortriptyline, which promote relaxation and address physical symptoms
You should seek emergency treatment if your left arm pain is:
- accompanied by pressure or squeezing in your chest
You should see your doctor as soon as possible if your left arm:
- experiences pain with exertion, but is relieved by rest
- experiences a sudden injury (especially when accompanied by a snapping sound)
- experiences severe pain and swelling
- has trouble moving normally
- has difficulty turning from palm up to palm down and vice versa
You should schedule an office visit with your doctor as soon as possible if your left arm:
- has pain that that doesn’t lessen after rest, elevation, and ice
- has increasing redness, swelling, or discomfort in the damaged area
- is experiencing pain that you feel is anxiety-induced
Home remedies for left arm pain
Until you can get to your doctor, home treatment can help arm injuries. For example, if you think that your arm is broken, use a sling to immobilize it and apply ice packs as you wait for medical attention.
Many other types of arm pain can improve on their own, especially if you:
- take time off from any normal activities that can tire your arm
- use an ice pack on the sore area three times a day for 15–20 minutes
- address swelling with a compression bandage
- elevate your arm
Left arm pain anxiety is a documented condition. So, the pain in your left arm could be the result of anxiety, but it could be the result of a heart problem or injury.
If the pain in your left arm is accompanied by other symptoms such discomfort in the center of the chest and shortness of breath, it could be a signal of heart problems. If your left arm is also red and swollen, there could be an underlying injury. As with any pain, a diagnosis from your doctor should put you on the road to recovery and could reduce your anxiety about it.