People may experience pain in left shoulder and arm in their life. The differential diagnoses are very vague which could be psychological or physical. You really need to consult your doctor as soon as possible because it could be fatal if you postpone the meeting. There are few diagnoses that need to be differentiated from the complaint. The first and most important one is your doctor needs to exclude angina. You need to be certain that you are not having a heart attack.
Angina is a disease that occurs due to the blockage in your blood vessels that supply your heart, thus, this makes your heart not get enough oxygen. Another name for angina is heart attack which its initial symptom is often a sudden left arm pain that radiates to the shoulder and arm. The pain can get increasingly intense within minutes. However, you may experience other symptoms that can be associated with the arm and shoulder pain. Discomfort or pain in the centre of the chest that is crushing in nature usually supports the diagnosis. Your doctor also may ask you if you have experienced shortness of breath, sudden cold sweat, lightheadedness and nausea. This condition is life-threatening and serious which needs you to act fast if you experience those symptoms.
Second, you should not take physiological pain lightly since anxiety can exaggerate any pain that you experience concurrently and makes you sensitive to the insignificant pain. You usually do not know where the pain comes from and you do not know where to locate if your doctor asks you to show the specific site of pain. It is because when you feel anxious, the heart beats faster to pump more blood around the body as a fight or flight response and also results in hyperventilation to supply more oxygen. This action can cause muscle tension around the shoulder. Anxiety could make any pain seem worse, especially if there is a concern that the pain could be the symptom of a serious problem, it can become increasingly upsetting.
Pain in left arm and shoulder also can be due to the injury of bone or tissue. This is classified as orthopaedic problems which involve muscle, ligaments, cartilage, and tendons including bone fracture, rotator cuff tear, rotator cuff impingement, shoulder tendonitis, shoulder dislocation or instability, shoulder arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome. However, the most common shoulder injury is rotator cuff tears among athletes and skilled workers because of repetitive and intensive routines. A rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint, keeping the ball of your upper arm bone firmly within the shallow socket of the shoulder.
The pain does not solely indicate a tear but it could be shoulder impingement or rotator cuff tendinitis which can happen among young athletes and middle-aged people who use their arms overhead for sports such as baseball, tennis and swimming and who do repetitive lifting or overhead activities using the arm such as painting, paper hanging or construction. The pain is worse when lifting your arms and you can experience shoulder stiffness. Shoulder dislocation happens when your upper arm bone pops out of the cup-shaped socket that is part of your shoulder blade. It is prone to dislocate or unstable because the shoulder is the body’s most mobile joint.
Shoulder arthritis or shoulder osteoarthritis is a wear and tear condition of articular cartilage over time. The cartilage is worn out due to the joint rub against each other during repetitive use and the protective space between the bones decreases. The shoulder pain is aggravated by shoulder activity and you may have a limited range of motion. There is also clicking that can be felt or heard upon shoulder movement. Whereas carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition where nerves to the hand that travels through the wrist are being compressed and cause pain in the arm.