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Can anxiety cause left arm pain?

If you’re experiencing left arm pain, anxiety could be the cause. Anxiety can cause muscles in the arm to become tense, and that tension could lead to pain.

Although muscle tension — sometimes the result of anxiety — is the most likely source of arm pain, it is not the only possible cause. Heart attack, angina, and injury are other possible causes.

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.

1. Anxiety

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

Often, an initial symptom of a heart attack is sudden left arm pain that gets increasingly intense over the course of a few minutes. Other symptoms of heart attack are:

A heart attack is a life-threatening condition. If you experience left arm pain in conjunction with these other symptoms, you should call 911.

3. Angina

Angina occurs when the heart is not getting enough oxygen. Angina can cause left arm pain that is often accompanied by shoulder, neck, back, or jaw discomfort along with a feeling of indigestion.

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.

4. Injury

Pain in your left arm might be a symptom of a bone or tissue injury. Possible injuries include:

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:

Popular anti-anxiety medications include:

You should seek emergency treatment if your left arm pain is:

  • sudden
  • severe
  • 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.