Is pain in the left arm an indication of a heart attack

Man-experiencing-shoulder-pain-eastside-Writers-image

A frequent occurrence of small aches and pains in the left arm is a sign of aging. But sudden or unexpected soreness in the left arm can be a sign of a more serious illness. It could be a sign of an injury that has to be treated or, in the worst case scenario, a heart attack’s symptoms.

In our daily chores, arm pain is a frequent complaint. Because we use our arms so frequently in daily life, the muscles, joints, and tendons inside them may all be the source of chronic discomfort. The source of arm discomfort may come from somewhere else in the body and is not always related to the arm itself. It’s crucial to exercise caution if you have pain, especially in your left arm, as this could be a sign of a heart attack. It is critical to learn to recognize symptoms in order to determine whether a discomfort in your arm is cause for concern and when you need to seek immediate medical attention. 

Symptoms for the pain in the left arm

Left arm pain can be either acute (when it starts suddenly and disappears quickly) or persistent (when it lasts for over three months). It may develop gradually or unexpectedly, be severe or mild, and only affect a portion of your arm (such as the underarm or upper arm), or the entire arm. Other symptoms, such as pain, a tightening sensation in your chest, or pins and needles, may also be present and should be addressed carefully.

The origin of left arm discomfort

Various factors can contribute to left arm pain. A heart attack is the most popular of these. In this instance, the pain in your arm can also be accompanied by discomfort in your chest, back, neck, shoulder, or jaw, nausea, breathlessness, dizziness, or weariness. Angina can also result in pain in the left arm. Similar symptoms are present, although they only last a short while. Having stiff muscles as a result of stress can also cause pain. Similar to how a fractured shoulder, arm, wrist, or hand, shoulder or elbow tendonitis, bursitis, or slipped disc can all result in arm discomfort, so can poor blood circulation and sleeping in the wrong position.

A heart attack, perhaps?

A heart attack occurs when your heart’s muscles are deprived of oxygen as a result of a blood circulation issue, such as a clot, for example. The most well-known heart attack sign is a pain in the left arm. This discomfort usually comes on quickly, grows worse with activity, and goes away at rest. It is usually accompanied by other symptoms in a person having a heart attack. Chest discomfort or a tightening, burning, or numbing sensation in the chest, arm, back, neck, stomach, or jaw pain, nausea, shortness of breath, dizziness, or exhaustion are a few examples. Call for immediate medical help if you encounter more than one of these symptoms because you might be having a heart attack.

Heart attack acute pain image by Eastside Writers

Relief for the left arm pain

If the pain in your left arm is benign, you can start treating it with rest, a cold compress on the troublesome area, and elevation of the arm. Your arm will need to be immobilized in a plaster cast for several weeks if the discomfort is being caused by a fracture. Treatment options may include painkillers or anti-inflammatory medications, rest, and physical therapy if the problem is musculoskeletal (affecting your bones, joints, or soft tissue).

Soothing heat treatments and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation can also assist in reducing joint and muscular pain. If an underlying heart problem is the source of the pain, therapy options may include drastic lifestyle modifications along with painkiller medication. Last but not least, if someone is experiencing a heart attack, they need to seek emergency medical attention because heart attacks can be fatal and occasionally call for surgery if medication alone is unable to remove the clot if that is a problem.

Knowing the possible causes and symptoms of left arm pain might make it easier to understand how the body is responding and decide whether it’s time to contact a doctor.

We discuss the potential reasons for discomfort in the left arm in this post. We also list here the additional symptoms for each of these factors that can aid someone in determining the underlying problem.

Heart Attack

Left arm pain, when combined with other symptoms, may indicate a heart attack. When the heart muscle is depleted of oxygen and suffers damage or stops beating entirely, it is said to be having a heart attack.

The coronary arteries’ narrowing is the primary cause of heart attacks. Plaque accumulation causes the arteries to progressively enlarge. A heart attack could result if a piece of plaque tears away from the arterial wall and blocks the flow of blood carrying oxygen to the heart.

One of the most typical signs of a heart attack is a pain in the left arm. The same brain cells get messages from both the heart’s branching nerves and the arms. The brain is unable to pinpoint the cause of the pain as a result. This phenomenon, which explains why a person having a heart attack could experience arm discomfort without experiencing chest pain is known as “referred pain.”

Symptoms like pain, numbness, or odd discomfort in the back, neck, jaw, or lower abdomen pain, numbness, or unusual discomfort in the middle of the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes or goes away and then returns. It can further be associated with shortness of breath, indigestion, dizziness or vomiting, lightheadedness, sudden flushes or chilly sweats.

The most typical sign of heart attacks in both men and women is soreness in the chest. It manifests as pressure, constriction, fullness, burning, or progressively worsening pain.

Women Vs Men

But in addition, women are more likely than men to develop other heart attack symptoms like nausea and shortness of breath. They can wrongly blame a virus, indigestion, or stress for these symptoms.

One should get medical help right away if they suddenly encounter any of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, or pain in the lower abdomen, back, or jaw.

Angina

Angina patients experience discomfort or suffering because their hearts are not receiving enough oxygen. Shoulders, neck, back, or jaw problems are possible in addition to left arm pain. In certain cases, angina mimics dyspepsia.

Heart attacks do not include angina. It does, however, indicate a heart condition. Angina is frequently brought on by blocked or constricted coronary arteries.

This disorder comes in two primary varieties:

Stable Angina

Angina of the stable variety is predictable and controllable. It only happens when you’re physically exerting yourself or are under emotional stress, and it lasts for at least two months.

The heart is under additional strain as a result, so it requires more oxygen than the congested arteries can supply. Stable angina can be treated with rest. Nitroglycerin is a drug that relaxes the arteries, and a doctor may recommend it if necessary.

Unstable Angina

This kind of angina is more deadly and unexpected. It can happen even while a person is at rest, which means that the heart does not constantly acquire enough oxygen.

Unstable angina is a sign that a heart attack is imminent. People with unstable angina should be evaluated by a medical expert in the emergency room.

Pain in left arm may be symptom of heart attack

Skeletal-muscular harm or Injury

An injury to the muscles or bones in the left arm may cause pain. If your left arm pain exhibits any of the following traits, it probably isn’t caused by heart issues:

It only lasts a few seconds at a time and has a “stabbing” sensation. Pain in general results from movement or contact. In this case, only a small portion of the arm is affected by the pain.

The ache lasts for hours or days without any other symptoms, Instead, the discomfort can be a sign of damage to the arm, shoulder, or elbow’s bone or tissue.

Even with a thorough grasp of these potential skeletomuscular diseases, it might be challenging to distinguish between a heart attack and an accident when experiencing left arm pain. There are some risk factors for both that are similar, like age and physical activity.

Due to these factors, it’s crucial to get medical help before attempting to self-diagnose an injury or rule out a heart condition. The following are typical skeletomuscular problems that could cause arm pain:

Bursitis

A bursa is a fluid-filled sac that sits between a bone and the soft tissue that surrounds it. Bursa inflammation is referred to as bursitis.

Shoulder bursitis, which typically comes from overusing this joint, may cause soreness in the left arm as a symptom. A direct injury to or infection of the bursa may potentially be a factor in the discomfort in the left arm.

Tendonitis

Pain in the left arm could be caused by tendonitis in the shoulder or elbow. Inflammation of the connective tissue between muscle and bone is known as tendonitis. Repetitive joint use frequently results in tendonitis. Tennis players, swimmers, and singers frequently develop tendonitis as a result.

Torn rotator cuff

The rotator cuff is a collection of muscles and tendons that support the shoulder in its socket, support arm rotation, and assist with lifting.

It can be excruciatingly painful to have a rotator cuff soft tissue tear. Overusing the shoulder or experiencing direct damage are the usual causes. Degeneration of the shoulder tissue brought on by aging further raises the possibility of a tear.

Disk Herniation

One of the cushioning disks in the spine’s vertebrae can rupture, protruding between the spinal bones and pressing against the nearby nerves.

A person may have discomfort, numbness, or weakness in the arm if the disk presses against the nerves that supply the arm. Even though the symptoms match those of a heart attack, another condition is to blame. Repetitive or heavy lifting is a common contributor to disk herniation.

Arm Fracture

Another sign of undiscovered acute pain in the arm is an arm fracture. An arm that has been broken or fractured indicates that one or more of the arm’s bones have developed cracks. This is a frequent injury that can affect both adults and children. The signs may include a tremendous amount of discomfort, which gets worse as the arm is moved. localized swelling and inflammation. There could possibly be a noticeable malformation in comparison to the opposite arm. There is also a possibility of an open wound caused by the skin being sliced or by the bone penetrating it. Moreover, there could be a reduced feeling or limb immobility, which could be signs of nerve injury

pain in left arm and heart attack

Treatment

To stop more damage or recognize and treat a heart attack, people who experience left arm pain should see a doctor. Even though arm and shoulder injuries might not be life-threatening, it is nevertheless crucial to see a doctor for a medical checkup. Early intervention can promote bone or tissue healing and prevent additional harm.

But clearing out a heart attack is the most crucial part of early treatment for left arm pain. Emergency medical professionals will take fast action if they determine that arm discomfort is a sign of a heart attack or arterial blockage. An EKG, blood tests, a chest X-ray, and potentially a CT tomography angiography scan would be done first, it is likely.

Another imaging technique that a doctor may utilize is cardiac catheterization. By injecting a dye into the arteries, this procedure enables medical professionals to evaluate the severity of blockages.

Doctors may select a noninvasive course of therapy based on the findings of this test. For instance, they might give a medication that dissolves blood clots.

Surgery can be necessary for more severe obstructions. The criteria for selecting the best heart operation are complicated and range throughout a wide range of heart procedures. Several potential choices Among the reliable sources for reviving cardiac blood flow are:

Stent implantation:

A wire-mesh tube is inserted by the surgeon into a constricted artery in order to expand the channel and improve blood flow. A stent is the name of this tube.

Angioplasty:

The procedure involves the surgeon reopening a clogged artery by inflating a tiny balloon inside of it. To keep the balloon in place, they could also stent it.

Bypass surgery:

The surgeon directs blood flow around the obstruction using a healthy portion of the blood channel.

Final Words

Although a heart attack or angina is the most deadly cause of left arm discomfort, this symptom is not usually associated with any of these conditions. If arm discomfort is accompanied by breathlessness, nausea, chest pain, or disorientation, you must get medical help right once.

People who exhibit heart disease symptoms should take precautions to lower their chance of developing major complications including stroke and heart attack.

These precautions include a change in lifestyle, medicine, and, in some cases, surgery.

Although implementing these modifications may initially seem daunting, they can help stop more heart damage and attacks.

man suffering from neck or shoulder pain isolated

Disclaimer: The author’s views are his or her own. The facts and opinions in the article have been taken from various articles and commentaries available in the online media and Eastside Writers does not take any responsibility or obligation for them.

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