Left arm pain may develop for several reasons, some more serious than others. Causes of left arm pain can range from soft tissue damage to heart attacks, neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis (MS), and even anxiety. You may be tempted to try at-home remedies, but it is crucial to see a medical professional to verify that you are not having a severe health issue.
Left Arm Pain and Anxiety
Anxiety is the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 19.1 percent of American adults yearly. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), people with anxiety habitually experience chronic pain like muscle tension, body soreness, and headaches. For some, this pain can appear in the left arm. Some causes of left arm pain due to anxiety include:
- Oversensitivity to natural arm pain that is usually short-lived. Severe anxiety can make you more sensitive to seemingly minor pain, especially if you don’t know what’s causing the pain. People suffering from anxiety and panic attacks tend to focus intensely on any pain and think it is abnormal when it is not.
- People with anxiety may also experience periods of intense anxiety, known as panic or anxiety attacks. Panic attacks can cause symptoms similar to a heart attack such as left arm pain, shortness of breath, chest pain, and a rapid heartbeat.
- Psychological pain. An unfortunate symptom of anxiety is feeling pain that may not be there because your mind is hyper-focused on it. For example, learning that heart attacks cause pain in the left arm and chest can cause a person suffering from anxiety to start experiencing pain in these areas.
Left arm pain due to anxiety can be surprising to many people, but it should not be a cause for panic. Treatment of your anxiety will make the arm pain go away, and anxiety alone cannot cause any long-term damage to your arm.
Treatment for Anxiety Left Arm Pain
If a medical doctor determines that anxiety is causing your left arm pain, they will recommend a treatment plan for your anxiety. Your doctor may use several approaches, including:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which involves identifying the thoughts that make you anxious. Your therapist will then teach you exercises and techniques to change your thinking and behavior patterns.
- Stress management techniques such as meditation, spending time in nature, and social support systems.
- Making lifestyle changes such as physical activity, proper nutrition, and adequate sleep to reduce stress.
Some people may find taking anti-anxiety medications, such as antidepressants or beta-blockers, to be helpful. Research shows psychotherapy, medication, and a combination of both are effective treatments for anxiety, but it is best to find what works for you with the help of your doctor. If your anxiety causes muscle tension in your left arm, you may benefit from treatments to relax your muscles like stretches, warm baths, massage, and progressive muscle relaxation.
Home remedies such as using an ice pack or taking over-the-counter pain relievers are short-term solutions and do not address the underlying anxiety causing the left arm pain. A diagnosis from your doctor puts you on the road to recovery and helps you rule out any heart or neurological conditions.
When to See a Doctor
It can be challenging for people with anxiety to distinguish between a panic attack and a heart attack if the attack is accompanied by left arm pain. A heart attack is a condition that requires immediate medical care and may be the case when a person experiences the following:
- Pain and discomfort in the left arm, chest, neck, or back
- Shortness of breath
On the other hand, anxiety may not require immediate care and is a highly treatable condition. However, only 36.9 percent of those suffering from anxiety receive treatment. A doctor will determine the cause of your arm pain and suggest therapy or medications to help manage your anxiety.
Personalized Healthcare for Seniors
At Align Senior Care, we understand how disruptive anxiety can be to your life, and we have the right resources to help you or your senior loved one manage it. Contact us today to book your appointment, and let us help you solve the challenges seniors face in gaining access to healthcare benefits.
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