Pinched Nerve in Your Arm: Pain Management Techniques

A pinched nerve in your arm occurs when one or multiple nerves are compressed, stretched or constricted. In some cases, this causes internal damage which may take the form of a pinched nerve in your arm. Keep in mind that the extent of your injury may vary. For the most part, a pinched nerve in your arm will require you to rest your limb until it is fully healed. However, more severe cases may lead to conditions such as tennis elbow and carpal tunnel syndrome. For these reasons, it is a good idea to speak with your doctor to prevent further damage or additional complications.


  • Numbness or dull pain
  • Sharp pain that radiates down your arm towards your fingers
  • Loss of mobility or difficulty moving your arm
  • Feeling “pins and needles” in your arm
  • Burning sensation

One of the best things you can do for a pinched nerve in your arm is give it proper rest. You doctor may suggest anti-inflammatory medication. You may also apply a heat or cold pack to your arm for 15-20 minutes every few hours. If the pain continues, seek medical attention. Your doctor may also recommend a splint or additional measures to alleviate the pain. In some cases, surgery and physical therapy may be needed.

Additional Tips:
What causes arm pain?
In general terms, arm pain is something that occurs between your wrist and your shoulder. Because your arm is made up of bones, ligaments, tendons and muscles, there can be a number of causes to arm pain. One cause of arm pain that people don’t often realize are problems that originate in your upper back and neck. Besides having a pinched nerve in your leg, there are other things that attributed to arm pain. Arthritis, tendonitis, strain, tennis elbow and even a heart attack can be linked to arm pain and discomfort. In other cases, significant trauma or an infection in your arm could cause arm pain. This includes but is not limited to dislocation, fracture, and skin infections or abscesses.

How can my arm pain be treated?
In the majority of cases, the best ways to treat arm pain is with basic care at home. This includes rest, a cold compress and over the counter, anti-inflammatory medication. Be sure to minimize use of the affected area as overuse could increase the chances of further injury.

When should I call my doctor?
It is a good idea to call your doctor when basic care has not addressed the pain in your arm over a specific period of time, or if the pain has worsened. For example, if there is swelling, joint movement has decreased or pain is no longer tolerable, it is a good idea to seek immediate medical attention. On the other hand, if the pain is tolerable and it has not affected your joints mobility, you may be able to continue with basic care as healing periods vary from person to person.

When basic care isn’t enough, your doctor may recommend a surgical process to fix the problem. The specific process will vary depending on diagnosis or location of your pain. For example, some common surgical procedures on the arm are done to address damaged joints, muscles and other connecting areas.

How can I prevent arm pain?
The best way to prevent arm pain is by incorporating proper lifestyle changes into your daily routine. For example, don’t overuse one arm for strenuous activity that may cause injury or trauma. When treating arm pain, be sure that it is diagnosed by a physician, and then make sure you follow an appropriate continuum when treating the pain. For example, start with basic home care. If that doesn’t work, your physician may recommend non-invasive surgical procedures. When that is no longer an option, your doctor may recommend a specific type of surgery followed by physical therapy, education and other treatments.

Interestingly, anxiety and stress have been linked to certain types of bodily pain as your body has the ability to produce physiological responses to psychological or environmental stimuli. It may be a good idea to personally or have a mental health professional examine your lifestyle to see if there are any stressors that could be causing this type of pain.