What Causes Shoulder Pain That Radiates Down the Arm

What Causes Shoulder Pain That Radiates Down the Arm?

Shoulder pain is a common issue that most people will experience at some time in their life. However, when the pain starts to radiate down the arm, it can understandably be alarming.

There are several potential causes of shoulder pain that spreads to the arm. In some cases, the pain can even spread to the chest and back. Here, we will look at what causes shoulder pain that radiates down the arm.

What might the problem be?

The rotator cuff of the shoulder is supplied by the same nerve roots that provide feeling to the arm. When an issue occurs within the shoulder, it can cause the nerve roots to trick the brain into thinking there is something wrong with the arm too.

While you will need to be examined properly to determine the cause, there are some common shoulder issues that are known for causing pain down the arm. These include:

  • Subacromial impingement: At the top of your arm bone, there is a gap between the acromion known as the subacromial space.  This is where the subacromial bursa and rotator cuff tendons are located. If the tendons become inflamed, it is referred to as subacromial impingement. This is one of the most common types of shoulder issues, and it causes pain at the top of the shoulder, as well as down the arm. You may also experience weakness in your arm if subacromial impingement is to blame.
  • Tendonitis: When the biceps tendon or rotator cuff becomes inflamed, it can lead to tendonitis. This mostly occurs due to inflammation of the rotator cuff, and the issue can range from mild to severe. You may notice the pain runs down the arm, and you may also struggle to place your arm behind your back.
  • Rotator cuff tear: Tears within the rotator cuff can occur for all kinds of reasons. It could be down to an acute injury, or through repetitive use of the shoulder. Tears can be mild to severe, with full tears requiring surgery to fix them. Depending upon how severe the tear is, it can lead to pain in the shoulder and down the arm.
  • Osteoarthritis: A common cause of shoulder pain that spreads to the arm is Osteoarthritis. Caused by wear and tear, cartilage in the shoulder begins to wear down over time. Eventually, the bones of the shoulder start to rub against one another, leading to stiffness and pain. This pain can sometimes radiate down the shoulder.

To determine what the problem is, patients will need to undergo an assessment. There are a lot of different causes of shoulder and arm pain, and each require a different type of treatment to correct them. Book a consultation with Ms Susan Alexander or our shoulder specialists now to diagnose and begin treating the root cause of the problem.