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What causes muscle cramps and pain in left arm after exercise?

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Answered by

Orthopaedic Surgeon
Practicing since : 2003
Answered : 1041 Questions
Question
Hi, I am in the military and have noticed an issue with my left shoulder and arm. After strenuous physical training (normally involving pulling my body weight) my left shoulder will get really cramped, and I will end up with debilitating nerve pain running down my left arm. This is a chronic issue. I I have done all range of motion tests, and I have full range of motion. They determined I do not have tendonitis and I did not have a partial dislocation. I broke my left clavicle 6 years ago. If I hold my left arm out, palm up or down, I have noticed that my arm will go completely numb after 45 seconds. I believe I have some form of thoracic outlet syndrome, but my military doctors are saying I just have a muscle strain and the nerve pain is unrelated. They gave me naproxen and called it a day. Could TOS be the cause? Or something similar?
Mon, 4 Aug 2014 in Bones, Muscles and Joints
 
 
Answered by Dr. Chander Mohan Singh 4 hours later
Brief Answer:
Get investigations done.

Detailed Answer:
Hi,

I have read your query.

Yes, the symptoms may be due to thoracic outlet syndrome. However before we arrive at this diagnosis, you will need a battery of tests. I order for electromyogram, somatosensory evoked responses, doppler arteriography of upper limb in such cases. Please discuss with your treating doctor about these tests.

Till then, avoid prolonged positions with the arms held out or overhead. For example, it is best to avoid sleeping with the arm extended up behind the head. It is also helpful to have rest periods at work to minimize fatigue.

You should avoid sleeping on their stomach with the arms above the head. Avoid pulling and pushing of heavy weights.

Painkillers that I could help you are aceclofenac+thiocolchicoside and pregabalin at night.

Do shoulder-shrug exercises and other muscle strengthening exercises as uploaded on you tube.

I hope it helps.

Thanks.

Dr.Singh.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
 
Follow-up: What causes muscle cramps and pain in left arm after exercise? 15 hours later
Dr. XXXXXXX

Thank you for your detailed and insightful answer. I will discuss this with my (sometimes incompetent) military doctors.

If this is a chronic issue, is it possible that my clavicle fracture had anything to do with it? It was a complex fracture that still to this day has a visible deformity. I will attempt to upload a picture on here in regards to this.

Thank you again,
XXXXXXX
 
 
Answered by Dr. Chander Mohan Singh 8 hours later
Brief Answer:
Thanks.

Detailed Answer:
Hi,

Thanks for your response my friend.

Yes, complex clavicle fracture may also be the cause, if after treatment of that fracture, immediate physiotherapy had not done properly.

I want to see your xray of clavicle postfracture and fresh xray also, please upload it along with other previously mentioned investigations. Because from pic you have uploaded it is difficult to tell the condition inside your body.

Thanks.

Dr.Singh.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
 
Follow-up: What causes muscle cramps and pain in left arm after exercise? 3 days later
Dr. XXXXXXX

Thank you for your help... I will be following up with my Primary Health Provider and with the knowledge you supplied, he should be willing to help.

I was unable to find the medical records you needed to see (x-ray, etc.)

-XXXXXXX
 
 
Answered by Dr. Chander Mohan Singh 9 hours later
Brief Answer:
Thanks.

Detailed Answer:
Hi,

Thanks for your response.

No matter even if you lost your previous record please ask your health provider for electromyogram, somatosensory evoked responses, doppler arteriography of upper limb and send me the report and fresh xray of clavicle.

I will guide you further more.

Thanks.

Dr.Singh.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
 
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