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Suffering from pain in arm and shoulder. Not cured by medicine. What could this be?

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Internal Medicine Specialist
Practicing since : 2000
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Hi I am a 73 year old male and I have been suffering from severe pain in my right arm for several weeks now.The pain started off more in my shoulder area but is now more severe in my upper arm. There is no pain when my arm is resting but as soon as I move it it is very painful making every day tasks such as toilet hygene and getting dressed very difficult. I have had 2 courses of anti inflammatory drugs from my doctor with no relief. What could this be?
Posted Sat, 8 Dec 2012 in Bones, Muscles and Joints
Answered by Dr. Sudhir 18 minutes later

Thanks for the question.

This is most probably because of a pinched nerve or upper limb radiculopathy. Common cause is bulging intervertebral discs in the vertebral column that compress on the nerves as they come out of the spinal cord. Pain may be experienced along the area of distribution/path of that particular nerve.

The treatment vary from conservative to surgery.

Conservative treatment include anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy or chiropractic treatment, and avoiding activity that strains the neck or back. The majority of radiculopathy patients respond well to this conservative treatment, and symptoms often improve within six weeks to three months.

If patients do not improve with the treatments listed above, they may benefit from an epidural steroid injection. This can help to rapidly reduce the inflammation and irritation of the nerve and help reduce the symptoms of radiculopathy.

In some cases, the symptoms continue despite all of the above treatment options. If this occurs and the symptoms are severe, surgery may be an option.

I would suggest you to see a spine specialist who will take into account severity of your symptoms and suggest getting MRI done to guide you about the treatment.

Meanwhile to relieve pain, you can ask your doctor to prescribe higher pain medications like opioid based analgesics and muscle relaxants if needed.

Please ask if I have left any of your query unanswered or if there are any doubts.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Suffering from pain in arm and shoulder. Not cured by medicine. What could this be? 1 hour later
I am concerned that there may be a connection between the pain now being experienced in my arm with the dizzy spells. My wife has also commented on my short term memory loss and I am wondering if these combined symptoms could be indicative of something more sinister such as a brain tumour
Answered by Dr. Sudhir 1 hour later
Thanks for writing back,
Both pain in arms and dizziness can be due to cervical/neck spondylosis.Nerves which get pinched in cervical spondylosis supply shoulder and arm region, so the pain is typically experienced in this region.

If memory loss has occurred over a period and noticed by your wife before you ,then it might be age related change which is unlikely to be related to this present complains. Some memory loss at your age is quiet common.

These symptoms are not typical of brain tumor.Generally tumors present more severe and continuous kind of symptoms.

Hope this answers your questions.
Let me know if I can address any additional concerfns.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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