Disease patterns of the arm | The anatomy of the arm

Disease patterns of the arm

There are various causes that can lead to a fallen asleep arm. These are usually harmless, but there are also serious illnesses that manifest themselves with such complaints. A fallen asleep arm leads to a tingling or numbness in the affected arm, which can be experienced as very unpleasant.

Pain and limited mobility can sometimes occur. The most common cause is an incorrect posture of the arm so that a nerve is pinched. The first thing that is disturbed is sensitivity, which is transmitted to our brain as a tingling or numbness.

It helps if you move your arm so that the pinched nerve is relieved. Normally the sensation in the arm normalizes within a short time and no damage is left behind. If the arms or other parts of the body fall asleep regularly, even though there was no uncomfortable posture, a doctor should be consulted.

In rare cases, such symptoms can conceal serious illnesses that require therapy. These include herniated discs or the nerve disease multiple sclerosis. Particular attention must also be paid to diabetics.

In the long term, this metabolic disorder can also damage nerves, which can lead to polyneuropathy. Polyneuropathy causes sensitivity to be lost, especially in the feet, and patients often experience tingling or numbness. This disease can be counteracted by a good diabetes management.

Fractures of the arm occur in all age groups and are among the most common bone fractures of all. In principle, any bone in the arm can be broken. The most common fracture on the arm is the distal radius fracture.

In most cases, this injury is caused by a fall on the outstretched arm. The spoke (radius) is broken and, depending on the extent, surrounding structures can also be injured. Another common fracture of the arm is the humeral head fracture.

This injury particularly affects older people over 70 years of age and women after menopause. In this fracture, the fracture gap is located in the upper part of the humerus. This fracture is also usually the result of a fall, but there are also rarer causes such as bone metastases.

The symptoms of fractures of the arm are independent of the fracture site and usually consist of pain, swelling, redness and restricted movement. The diagnosis of a fracture can often be made immediately after the clinical examination, but this is confirmed by an X-ray. X-rays are taken from two planes to detect possible bone displacement.

In the case of open or complicated bone fractures, surgery is performed, otherwise a simple plaster cast is sufficient, which usually has to be worn for six to eight weeks. – Upper arm fracture – You need to know now! – Spoke fracture

  • Radial head fracture

Pain in the arm can have numerous causes and is usually harmless.

During the pain anamnesis especially sports activities or even falls should be asked. Pain in the arm region often has muscular causes, for example overexertion during sports or tension. Particularly with competitive athletes, such as tennis players, over-irritation of the muscles or nerves should be considered.

In general, a muscle strain, muscle contusion, a sprain of a joint or even a bone fracture should always be excluded. With older patients, past falls should be clarified, since even falls from a low height can damage bones. Reduced bone density (osteoporosis), from which older women in particular suffer, is a favourable factor for such injuries.

Pain in the arm can also be caused by inflammation, more often in the area of joints. In these areas, the tendons of the muscles in particular and also the bursae are often irritated, which can lead to severe pain. Chronic inflammatory diseases of the joints such as rheumatism also manifest themselves through pain.

Of course there are also other more serious diseases that can lead to pain in the arm. However, these are less common and often manifest themselves through other symptoms. A mass in the area under the armpit, for example due to swollen lymph nodes as a result of an infection or a malignant process, can radiate painfully into the arm.

You can find further details under:

  • Pain in the left arm
  • Pain in the right arm
  • Upper arm pain
  • Forearm pain

A dislocated arm is the most common dislocation (luxation) of a joint in Germany. In most cases, the arm dislocates after a traumatic event, usually after a fall on the outstretched arm. The most common dislocation of the shoulder is a so-called anterior shoulder dislocation.

In this case, the head of the humerus is no longer located in its socket, but is shifted forward and downward. Typical symptoms of this injury are pain in the shoulder area, restricted mobility and a springy position of the humerus. In addition, the empty socket and the dislocated head of the humerus can usually be palpated.

A dislocated arm is confirmed by an x-ray from two planes. It is always necessary to take two images from different perspectives in order not to detect a dislocation forwards or backwards. The treatment consists of a direct manual dislocation of the shoulder joint, during which the patient is usually sedated and additionally receives painkillers.

If this reduction is successful, the pain subsides very quickly and the affected arm should be immobilised with the help of a bandage. In serious cases, for example, if vessels or nerves are injured or if the shoulder is repeatedly dislocated, the joint should be treated surgically. A sprain describes a severe overstretching of ligaments or joint capsules and can affect various parts of the body.

The foot and knee joints are particularly at risk, but it is also possible to sprain your arm due to excessive strain. A sprain or distortion is characterized by pain and in most cases by swelling. The swelling is caused by a bruise.

In the case of uncomplicated sprains, it is not absolutely necessary to consult a doctor. The so-called PECH scheme provides a good overview of the treatment. The four letters stand for the four important pillars that support a fast regeneration of the injured joint: rest, ice, compression and elevation.

After a sprain, physical activity, especially sport, should be avoided for a few weeks. In addition, the injured area should be cooled as quickly as possible and a bandage applied with light pressure. To further relieve the strain on the arm, it should be elevated.

All these measures help to prevent an effusion. Normally the pain subsides after a few weeks and you can slowly resume your sporting activities. However, if the pain is persistent or even very severe, a doctor should be consulted, who can rule out a possible torn ligament or similar.

  • Sprain of the hand
  • Sprained thumb

A tremor or tremor of the arm can have many different causes, which are usually completely harmless. Nevertheless, an increased tremor, which can also affect a leg for example, should be observed and should be clarified by a doctor. A minimal tremor of the muscles, which we normally do not notice, is normal and has no disease value.

However, if these muscle twitches increase, we should pay attention to the situations in which this occurs. There are many different types of tremor, for example, those at physical rest (rest tremor) or during active movements (movement tremor). A common cause that can lead to increased muscle activity is severe psychological stress.

However, drugs such as antidepressants or heavy caffeine or nicotine consumption can also cause tremors of the arm. If these causes can all be excluded, neurological causes must be considered above all. A pathological change in the nerves or brain can make itself felt, among other things, through tremor of the extremities.

Well-known examples are multiple sclerosis (MS) and Parkinson’s disease. These two neurological diseases each have a characteristic tremor as a symptom. Patients with multiple sclerosis show a so-called intention tremor.

This tremor occurs mainly when the patients start a targeted movement. In contrast, Parkinson’s patients often tend to have a holding tremor, which is most pronounced when the body is at rest. A swollen arm on one side is always a reason to consult a doctor, especially if the swelling occurs suddenly and without an explainable cause.

In general lymphatic disorders, which can also be congenital, both arms are usually affected. Often, unilateral swelling of the arm affects women who have had to undergo surgery due to breast cancer. In this operation, not only the tumour tissue in the diseased breast is removed, but also, depending on the spread of the tumour, affected lymph nodes.

These are located in the armpit area and are important for lymph drainage. If these lymph nodes are missing, a lymph drainage disorder occurs, causing the arm to swell. This can sometimes lead to pain, so that the range of movement is restricted.

The treatment of such lymph drainage disorders consists of several components. Firstly, sufficient exercise and healthy skin care have a positive effect on the development of such diseases. Manual lymph drainage has proven to be particularly effective.

Here, trained physiotherapists stimulate the lymph drainage with certain hand movements and massages, so that the congestion is released. Compression bandages or stockings which compress the arm and thus promote lymph drainage also have a supportive effect. Another cause that can cause one-sided swelling of the arm is an insect bite. This is very rare, but should be examined by a doctor and treated if necessary.