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Dr. Saha
Dr. Saha, Doctor (MD)
Category: Health
Satisfied Customers: 17658
Experience:  35 years of experience
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I have a sudden shooting pain in my left arm, between my wrist

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I have a sudden shooting pain in my left arm, between my wrist and elbow. It feels almost exactly like a pulled muscle but is only in the very middle of my arm (parallel to bone). The pain shoots up to nearly my shoulder and down my middle finger. I was coughing in my sleep (just getting over a head cold) and it suddenly hit me. My left arm was on top of me (no pressure on it) not under me. I am having mild discomfort in my ribs and left shoulder blade but not nearly as much pain as costochondritis. This arm pain worsens dramatically when I bend my elbow or wrist. Advice?

Thank you for your question,

I’m Dr. Saha and I’ll try to help you.

When did the pain start?

Does it increase only on bending?

How is the pain in the chest & back?

What does aggravate it?

Do you feel pain on taking deep breath?

Did you take any medicine?

Did you have any past illness?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hello Dr Saha,


The pain started instantly about 10 minutes ago. I have been massaging the area (like you would a muscle spasm) and some of the pressure has been relieved. The pain is intense approximately 2 inches down from my elbow on the inner side of my left arm. Laid straight the pain is at a 6. When bent, the pain goes straight to 10. However, the pain fluctuates slightly -- just on its own. If I touch the area, the pain shoots up dramatically.

The pain in my side and back is more like discomfort rather than pain -- maybe a 2 on the pain scale. Comparable to having worked hard with it during the day, nothing alarming.

I take ventolin inhaler for asthma. I was diagnosed with juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis 20 years ago. I can get panicky as it is hard for me to tell when sudden pains like this are serious or non-serious but intensely felt.


edit: my left hand is very cold now, but not tingling like it "fell asleep"

Thank you Christine, for the information.

There can be a few possibilities.

The character of pain seems to be musculoskeletal in nature.

The pain can be due to pinching or pressure on nerve.

This can occur to be at the back spine..

Changes in the spine or disc, arthritis may irritate the nerve roots.

This can be felt in the chest, arm.

It can be aggravated by sleeping in bad posture, movement or bending.

Medial epicondylitis can also cause pain in the inner side of elbow.

As you have history of asthma, an inflammation or infection in the lungs can cause chest & back pain.

Heart diseases like angina can cause it on left side though uncommon at your age.

Just to add after getting your new reply, if you feel the arm is cold there can be low circulation too.

I would advise to get an urgent examination by doctor in ER.

You can take tylenol for pain.

I hope this information helps.

My goal is to provide you with excellent service today. If there’s anything else I can do, please let me know.

If you are satisfied, please rate my answer as good or excellent. If you want to click poor or bad service, please stop & feel free to reply & ask till you are satisfied.

I will be happy to assist, if you need any clarification. I hope to work with you again soon!

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hello -- in the past 40 minutes the pain has decreased dramatically (I would rate the upper limits of pain at a 4, but generally is a 2 now.) I am able to use my arm again, even bending the elbow. The pain increases as I bend my wrist, but is still at most a 4. Would you please clarify if you feel ER is necessary, or if I can broach a clinic in the daytime hours instead? Thank you for your clear answers so far.

How is the temperature of the arm now?

How is its color? Is there any color change?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

The temperature of the arm is normal now. There has been no colour change throughout this time.

Then you can take tylenol & wait & watch.

You can try warm application.

Dr. Saha and 3 other Health Specialists are ready to help you