Arm PainDr. Howard Liss treats disorders that cause pain and disability by providing consultative services and soft tissue and joint injections when needed. When medically appropriate, he makes specific referrals for diagnostic testing (lab work, imaging, electrodiagnosis), physical and occupational therapy, interventional procedures (epidurals and facet joint injections), and surgery.
Since individuals use their arms for reaching, lifting, pushing, pulling, sports and other strenuous activities, it’s no wonder that nearly 67% experience some type of arm pain in their lifetime. Given the complexity of the structures in the shoulder and arm, including bones, joints, nerves, tendons and muscles, pain may not always be an indication of an arm injury. To better explain, some arm pain stems from a spinal disorder or sports injury in the neck or upper back. Thus, when it comes to arm pain, it’s important not to assume that it’s an isolated event.
A number of factors can lead to arm pain. Consider the following:
- Rotator cuff injury
- Carpal Tunnel
- Tennis Elbow
- Frozen Shoulder
- Cervical Spondylosis
- Vascular Disease
- Peripheral Neuropathy
Symptoms of Arm Pain
With a considerable number of factors contributing to arm pain, symptoms vary, depending on the injury or underlying cause of pain. Even so, a few common symptoms associated with arm pain are listed below:
- Numbness, tingling
- Tenderness, sensitivity
- Stiffness of joints
- Pulsing or radiating pain
Treatment and Rehabilitation for Arm Pain
Arm pain is a broad term covering a multitude of conditions and possible disorders. Physiatrists are in a unique position to make important distinctions in the diagnosis of many types of arm pain. With extensive education and experience across multiple disciplines, physiatrists understand a wide variety of conditions relating to nerves, bones, joints, ligaments, muscles and tendons. Under the direction of a physiatrist, treatment for arm pain is not focused on one area or symptom—effective rehabilitation treats the whole body.
For many, arm pain is a result of repeated motion. Perhaps during a sport, weight lifting or repetitively reaching overhead at a job, it can occur. With four muscle-tendon groups located at the shoulder, there is the potential for rotator cuff tear or bicep tear. In turn, there may be a tear of the tendon attaching the chest muscle to the upper arm bone. With primary symptoms consisting of pain and weakness of the shoulder that radiates to the arm, initial assessment of the individual may involve imaging tests or ultrasound. While physiatrists take a functional approach with the goal of maximizing a patient’s level of mobility, addressing pain and inflammation is the first priority. To accomplish this, patients may be given anti-inflammatory medication, ice packs or steroid injections. In turn, the patient’s arm may be placed in a brace or sling to provide stability and rest.
Once pain and inflammation become managed, patients move forward with rehabilitation led by the physiatrist. The physiatrist may assemble a team of medical professionals, physical therapists, clinicians and interventionists. These specialists guide patients through exercise, stretching and proper body mechanics. In some cases, assistive devices or equipment are utilized to protect the arm, such as Cho-Pat Upper Arm Strap or Bicep/Tricep Cuff.
In using a combination of non-surgical treatment methods, physiatrists learn pertinent diagnostic information regarding the patient’s condition. For instance, an individual’s arm pain may be due to a compressed nerve or abnormal neurodynamics, which is tension from impaired nerve function. Thus, physiatrists must remain objective as they consider multiple body systems and even psychological components that play a role in a patient’s pain.
At the Howard Liss, M.D. Rehabilitation Institute in Englewood, patients can rely on Dr. Liss to put together the right treatment, therapy and rehabilitation plan to ensure the most optimal outcome. Dr. Liss works closely with other specialists required to rehabilitate patients suffering from chronic pain or serious injuries, and Dr. Liss will refer patients as needed to ensure appropriate treatment. With extensive education and exposure to a variety of conditions that affect the cervical and lumbar spine, bones, nerves, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, brain, and spinal cord, Dr. Liss is uniquely positioned to help patients manage their pain and maximize their functioning.
To schedule your appointment, contact the Howard Liss, M.D. Rehabilitation Institute today.