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pain in left arm

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Hello Doctor, For the last few weeks I am experiencing some kind of pain in my left arm. The pain starts from neck and kind of moves towards the elbow. I also get shock like sensation once in a while. I have heard that pain in left arm can be a sign on heart attack. So I am a bit worried. Should I be concerned? What should I do?

Category: Family Physician-GP

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Category: Family Physician-GP
 19 Doctors Online

Thanks for asking you query at

First let me clarify some details regarding pain in left arm and heart attack.

It’s true that you can have a pain in left arm while having a heart attack. This is called a referred pain. Pain originating heart can radiate towards the left arm because of some developmental relations of heat and left arm. Similarly it can radiate towards the jaw s, left side of the neck, right arm and upper stomach. But radiation to the left arm is the most common.

That said, an isolated pain in left arm almost never indicates a heart problem. As I have mentioned, the pain in left arm is a ‘referred pain’ and will be associated with pain in the chest.

So pain in left arm is significant only if:
1. If you have a history of heart attack or angina.
2. If you have associated sever crushing type of chest pain.
3. If you have high risk factors for heart disease like Diabetes, Hypertension or know atherosclerosis.

In your case the left arm pain seems to be of a different cause. Since you having pain from neck to elbow and also shock like sensation, it’s possible that you are having nerve compression issue. This compression can possibly in the neck. It’s not easy to comment of this fact without a proper clinical examination, but it’s highly likely. This can be due to a variety of causes and I suggest you to consult a Neurologist/Physician for early diagnosis and treatment. Meanwhile you should avoid any strenuous activities, and give good rest to your neck. Avoid sudden movements in neck. You can use a Soft cervical collar (size that fits your neck) till you get medical help.

Dr. John Fuller
Category: Family Physician-GP
MD - New York Institute of Technology, New York College of Osteopathic Medicine
Internship, Family Medicine - Lutheran Medical Center
Residency, Family Medicine - The Mount Sinai Hospital
Dr. John Fuller and 4 other Medical Specialists are ready to help you

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