We have read a lot about left arm pain and heard friends and family suggest that it could be heart related. Actually pain in the left arm can be due to various reasons, ranging from ordinary muscle pain to even severe heart attack. Other reasons are ailments of the skin, soft tissue, nerves, bones, joints or blood vessels in the arm. Before concluding that left arm pain is due to heart problem we should eliminate other causes.
There are several factors like those given below to consider before narrowing down the pain to heart related pain.
What is the intensity of pain?
If it is a heart attack then most often we feel like some pressure or squeezing like sensation in the left side. It can be mild in pain or not painful at all (called silent heart attack). The pain can also be in full measure and it will rank 10 out of 10 in intensity. Rather than the left arm this pain will be more in the chest area and then radiate down the left arm and go up your jaw or the back.
Look for other signs
Apart from the pain in the arm, jaw, neck and back some other symptoms are also observed and these may include – nausea, dizziness, and cold sweat, shortness of breath and chest tightness & difficulty in breathing. If any of these symptoms occur along with left arm pain then it is advisable to see a doctor immediately to rule out heart attack.
Note the duration of pain
If the left arm pain lasts only for few seconds then it is unlikely that it is due to any heart ailment. If the pain persists for a long time (for days or even weeks), it is also unlikely that it has something to do with your heart. Only if lasts for few minutes to few hours then you should doubt that it has connection to heart problem. Take not of the interval of your pain occurring and if possible not it down which will help the doctor know your case better.
Is your pain due to Angina?
Angina is a pain that is caused due to insufficient blood flow to the heart. When Angina occurs you feel a squeezing or pressure sensation along with pain in your shoulders, your chest, your arms, your back or your neck. It may also feel like indigestion. It is not compulsory that Angina pain should be in the left arm but there is always a possibility. Angina can worsen due to stress either physical or emotional. If you suspect you have Angina it is best to meet a doctor. It requires appropriate evaluation and treatment.
Check for pain due to other reasons
There are many other reasons for the left side pain to occur and if you look at them one by one then here are a few important ones.
Moving your neck causes pain, and then it should be due to cervical spondylosis. If the pain aggravates when you move your shoulder it could be due to shoulder arthritis. If you feel numbness or lose function in the left arm it may be due to nerve related injury. If there is variance in your blood pressure then it may be due peripheral arterial disease like atheroscelrosis and commonly occurs in smokers.