Common arm conditions and injuries



Overview of common arm injuries

Your arm extends from your shoulder down to your fingertips. It consists of bones, joints, and muscles, along with other tissues, such as blood vessels and nerves. Damage or injury to any of these parts can cause problems with your arm.  

Orthopedic specialists at Dignity Health treat a wide range of arm conditions related to acute injuries (like falls or sports injuries) as well as arm conditions resulting from cancer, infections, and chronic conditions like arthritis. Find a Doctor to learn more or schedule a consultation.  

Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of common arm conditions and injuries depend on the specific problem. In general, you might have: 

  • Bone pain 
  • Joint pain 
  • Muscle pain 

Other symptoms in the affected area can include: 

  • Stiffness 
  • Weakness 
  • Limited range of motion 
  • Swelling and warmth 

Your arm may be noticeably deformed if you fracture (break) a bone.  

Causes

Causes of common arm conditions and injuries also depend on the specific problem. Tendon injury or strain is the result of repetitive motion or overuse. These conditions tend to be chronic and can last several weeks, or come and go over time. Trauma is the leading cause of broken bones and fractures.  

Types

Common arm conditions and injuries include: 

  • Broken arm, including fractures of the forearm, upper arm bone, shoulder, elbow, wrist, and hand 
  • Biceps tendon injury or strain 
  • Elbow conditions and injuries, including tennis elbow and bursitis 
  • Hand and wrist conditions and injuries, including carpal tunnel syndrome 
  • Shoulder conditions and injuries, including a dislocated shoulder, torn rotator cuff, and arthritis 
  • Triceps tendon injury or strain  

Risk factors

Among children and younger people, the most significant risk factors for arm injuries are organized sports such as baseball, basketball, tennis, and football. Any activity involving impact or repeated motions such as throwing, swinging, or catching, increase the risk of an arm injury.  

Other risk factors for broken arms include:  

  • Age (degenerative conditions like osteoarthritis, which makes bones weaker and more brittle, become more common with age, as do falls) 
  • Arthritis 
  • Inherited and congenital deformities  
  • Occupations, sports, or hobbies that require repetitive motion  
  • Obesity or being overweight 
  • Smoking (while smoking itself isn’t directly linked to arm health, smokers tend to be at higher risk for injuries in general, and tend to experience slower wound healing due to reduced circulation) 

Prevention

It is not always possible to avoid arm injuries. However, it is possible to reduce your risk of an injury by taking one or more of the following steps: 

  • Wearing proper warmth and safety gear during higher-risk activities 
  • Making sure you have the right training and experience for an activity 
  • Not working or pushing through an injury; stopping and resting or changing your movements if you feel pain 
  • Adjusting your work environment where possible to support improved ergonomics 
  • Seeking prompt treatment for conditions such as diabetes 
  • Maintaining a healthy weight 
  • Not smoking or quitting smoking 

The information contained in this article is meant for educational purposes only and should not replace advice from your healthcare provider.