Upper Extremities – Arm and Elbow Pain

arm elbow wrist shoulder pain

Upper Extremities

Do you suffer from pain in arm, elbow, wrist or hand?

Postural upper extremity pain is a common and often painful problem.  Usually related to weak or poor posture, it can begin with an injury, accident or from long-term habits created in our posture environment.  Over time, posture stress causes pain and breakdown ( i.e. Arthritis /Degenerative Joint Disease) in the spine and other joints from daily wear & tear.

Upper extremities of the body pain is often described as:

  • pain in hand and elbow
  • nerve pain in wrist and arm
  • upper hand pain
  • elbow hand pain
  • elbow upper arm pain

Extremity Pain Causes

Since the nerves which control the upper extremities begin in the neck, neck pain associated postural problems are a common cause of pain radiating to the upper extremity (arm, wrist, and hand) when structural distortions in the neck caused by chronic poor posture or prior trauma can cause a spinal distortion in the neck and compress the nerves traveling to the hand. Hand and wrist pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness of grip can result.

Upper extremity pain cpoor postureauses are often positional– it gets better, worse or different as body position changes. Frequently episodic, pain may come on after over-activity or without apparent cause, and is triggered as body adapts to mechanical stress, weak posture and inefficient motion. e.g.

    • Excessive sitting or hunching over a computer for hours at a time
    • Standing, bending or being in an “awkward position”
    • Chronic posture stress such as carrying a heavy backpack, pocketbook, or child

See Posture Science for more info on body compensation, adaptation and how posture distortions tighten overused MUSCLES, weaken underused muscles, stretch and distort ligaments, and pinch and traction nerves teaching the body to move in uneven, stressed motion patterns.

Related Conditions: Golfers or tennis elbow,  hand pain; wrist pain; forearm pain; elbow pain; arm pain; carpal tunnel syndrome, compartment syndrome, DeQuervain’s tenosynovitis, frozen shoulder, adhesive capsulitis, muscle imbalances, muscle pulls, muscle strains, muscle weakness, myofascitis, Postural adaptive muscle strain; Pinched nerve.

Self-Help Solutions: Upper Extremity Pain Relief

>Do Posture Exercises every day to strengthen posture.  Also, posture exerciseFor wrist pain and carpal tunnel syndrome try the StrongPosture® flexion and extension exercises for hands, wrists and arms.

>To fix posture on your own, complete the 7 week posture improvement program, in Stand Taller Live Longer.

>Be conscious of your posture

    • Head tall and strong
    • Shoulders back and chest open
    • Pelvis Tucked and centered

>Change body position and posture frequently

    • Adjust your chair,car seat or anyplace you spend time often during the day
    • Alternate which arm you use to carry loads such as a pocketbook or child
    • Use a good topical for temporary relief while you recover

KEEP MOVING- The Body Is Made To Move

    • Take frequent body-stretch breaks
    • Stretch your body opposite to the way you have been using your body.

>Best Sleeping Position for Upper Back Pain

    • On your side, with a pillow under your upper arm, and a contoured cervical pillow under your neck to keep head aligned with your spine.
    • Consider memory foam or supportive fiberfill or waterfloat pillows.
    • Change your sleeping position if you are  a stomach sleeper!

>Avoid regular use of aspirin, NSAIDs (Advil, Ibuprofen, etc) and over the counter pain medication to avoid stomach, liver and kidney damage associated with frequent use of these drugs. 58% of people using NSAIDs more than 3 months have ulcers. NSAIDs cause 103,000 hospitalizations and 16,500 deaths/year (Wall Street Journal, 10/06)

Try topicals for equal or superior pain relief.  Also, try alternating hot and cold compresses (15-20 minutes) to relax tight muscles and relieve pain.

Consult a professional if pain is severe or persists over two weeks


SITE DISCLAIMER & Health Note : If there is no trauma and pain initially begins in the chest, if the pain is not affected by motion, or if there is fever, nausea, vomiting, uneven pulse, anxiety, a sick feeling, burning urination, loss of bowel or bladder control, or severe pain, call your Physician.