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Pain in the arms (shoulder to fingers)
Includes shoulder, elbow, wrist and finger joints
The pain is not due to a known injury
Minor muscle strain and overuse injury are covered in this topic
Arm pains are unusual
Main Causes: Strained muscles from overuse injury (e.g., excessive throwing or swimming)
Brief pains (1 to 15 minutes) are usually due to muscle spasms. These usually occur in the hand and follow prolonged writing or typing.
Continuous acute pains (hours to 7 days) are usually due to overstrenuous activities or forgotten muscle injuries during the preceding day. These are most common in the shoulder area.
Mild muscle aches also occur with many viral illnesses.
Serious Causes: fractures, arthritis (joint infection) and neuritis (nerve infection)
Follows injury, see ARM INJURY
Not moving or too weak to stand
Your child looks or acts very sick
Can't use arm normally
Fever is present
Can't move a joint normally
Bright red area on skin
Muscle weakness (loss of strength)
Numbness (loss of sensation) present over 1 hour
Severe pain or cries when arm touched or moved
You think your child needs to be seen urgently
You think your child needs to be seen, but not urgently
You have other questions or concerns
Cause of arm pain is uncertain
Arm pain present over 7 days
Arm pains or muscle cramps are a recurrent chronic problem
Caused by strained muscles from excessive use
Cause is obvious and harmless (e.g.,sliver that's removed, a recent shot)
Reassurance: Strained muscles are very common following vigorous activity (overuse injury) (e.g., repeatedly throwing a ball). You can treat them at home.
Local Cold: Apply a cold pack or ice bag wrapped in a wet cloth to the sore muscles for 20 minutes several times on the first 2 days.
Pain Medicine: For pain relief, give acetaminophen OR ibuprofen as needed. (See Dosage table)
Hot Bath: If stiffness persists over 48 hours, have your child relax in a hot bath for 20 minutes 2 times per day, and gently exercise the involved part under water.
Expected Course: A strained muscle hurts for 2 or 3 days. The pain often peaks on day 2. Following severe overuse, the pain may last a week.
Call Your Doctor If:
Fever or swollen joint occurs
Pain caused by work or exercise persists over 7 days
Pain becomes worse
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