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Thoughts on what this acute whole arm(s)/elbow(s) pain could be?

(8 Posts)
perplexedtoday Fri 07-Mar-14 09:20:48

Hi I was wondering if the medical sleuths on here could help. I have name changed for this. I am 40. I have been having pain down one arm now for nearly 3 months, sometimes acute and sometimes just a large ache. I have seen the doctor several times and had various painkillers. I have now been referred for a spine MRI to see if I have a trapped nerve because apparently full arm pain is unusual and he suspects this. I have no back/neck pain and no mobility issues so I query the trapped nerve idea.

The strength of pain does come and go but is pretty constant. When the pain is worse it really aches even when my arm is doing nothing e.g. resting it on the bed. My hand is normally quite numb in the morning. I have nowhere near the strength I normally have in that arm and difficulty opening and closing my elbow joint. I did wonder whether elbow joints do wear out like knee joints but my husband says he does not think they do as they do not have the kind of use or weight on them that knee joints do.

I am now waiting for the MRI (which can take up to 6 weeks I have been told). Over the last few days my left arm has also begun to play up though not to the same extent. I have slight pain but more acutely I cannot open the elbow joint properly either (like my other arm) and it hurts to do so. This makes me think even more it is unlikely to be a trapped nerve unless the two arms pains are unrelated.

Has anyone got any ideas what it might be even if it scares me as I don't want to think I will be waiting another 2 months to be no further forward - arthritis, worn out joints, some muscle wasting disease or something even more deadly (I don't even want to spell it)? If it is something bad I want to try to get help now and not wait months to find out an opportunity was missed. Many thanks.

tatyr Fri 07-Mar-14 19:14:12

People do get arthritis in the elbow, but i think there would normally be arthritis in other joints too, and it would be picked up by a blood test. Has tendonitis or tennis/golfers elbow been considered? Have you tried anti-inflammatories? Could you consider acupuncture?

perplexedtoday Fri 07-Mar-14 19:16:24

not sure doc has considered anything else at all bar a trapped nerve - is it likely to have tendonitis or tennis elbow in both arms at same time? Thanks.

tatyr Fri 07-Mar-14 19:32:58

Tendonitis is usually a repetitive strain type problem. Do you have any work/leisure activities that might have caused this? It is quite a burning irritating type of pain. It would be feasible that because one arm was hurting initially, you started using the other more, which has then caused that one problems.
A MRI will show whether there are any areas where the nerves pass through the verebrae which have been narrowed and are impinging the nerve, but i would usually associate that more with a tingling/numbness pain, sometimes right down to the hand, often only one half of the hand.

perplexedtoday Fri 07-Mar-14 19:36:29

no work or leisure activities that may have caused this. I do get numbness but normally in morning when I have woken up. I wonder if a narrowed vertebrae could affect both arms.

tatyr Fri 07-Mar-14 23:17:30

If you look at a picture of a cervical (neck) vertebra, there is a hole in the middle that the spinal cord goes through, and the branches of nerves to your arms come off to either side through smaller holes. If there are changes or degeneration happening to your vertebrae it is feasible that these are happening on both sides, and the pain is referred down your arms. A bit like sciatica is caused at the lumber spine area but felt in the buttocks and down the legs.
I hope my explanations are not making you more worried, the scan will show up if there is a problem, anything else is guesswork really.
I sympathise with the unrelenting nature of your pain, it can really make you feel miserable. I had tendonitis for about a year and seemed to forget what 'not painful' felt like.

Christmascandles Fri 07-Mar-14 23:20:05

Is it all your hand that is numb or just some fingers...?

Springcleanish Fri 07-Mar-14 23:23:43

Do you use an iPad or laptop? Is it your typing hand that went first? If so I get this it is a form of tennis elbow / RSI from the weird positions that I type in. Hope the Dr. is able to diagnose and treat you soon.

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