The arm structure consists of 3 bones, nerves, muscles, tendons and ligaments. Any kind of injury to these structural components often leads to a painful condition. You will be surprised to know that sometimes, the source of a throbbing left arm pain does not lie in the arm at all. It may originate in the spine and travel up to the arms through nerves. This happens mostly because of an injury or a problem in the cervical spine.


A throbbing pain in the left arm may or may not be a serious issue. You can distinguish between the serious causes from the rest with the help of the symptoms that accompany the pain. Here, we are discussing each and every cause with its symptoms:

Heart Attack

A sudden pain felt in the left arm can be a symptom of heart attack. There is no need to panic because it is not always associated with a cardiac problem.

It could be a warning sign of heart attack only when it is accompanied by squeezing chest pain, excessive sweating, breathing difficulty, headache, etc.


This is another serious cause behind throbbing pain and numbness in the left arm. A person suffers stroke when proper supply of blood to the brain gets disrupted. Therefore, its symptoms show up suddenly and tend to worsen with time.

Then again, other symptoms of stroke like complete or partial loss of sensation, visual problems, slurred speech, etc. are also observed.


The bones may get fractured due to a traumatic injury and cause a lot of pain along with swelling. The muscles get pulled because of overuse during sports activities, strenuous exercises, etc. and become stiff and painful. Some people complain about a throbbing pain after lifting heavy weight. It is susceptible to other forms of injuries such as torn cartilage, ruptured tendons and rotator cuff injuries.

A unique characteristic is that the pain decreases when the arm is rested.

Inflamed Nerves

When one or more vertebral discs of the cervical spine protrude out and irritate the spinal nerve roots in the area, the nerves get inflamed. The neck nerves may also suffer inflammation when they get pressed due to growth of bone spurs which are caused by degeneration of the vertebral bones. Carpal tunnel syndrome is another case of inflamed nerve where the median nerve present in the left wrist is compressed and a stabbing pain can be felt in the wrist joint, elbow joint and left arm.

Inflammation of nerves gives rise to a sharp pain in left arm and shoulder along with a tingling sensation and weakening of the muscles.

Tennis Elbow

This is a condition that arises when the tendons present in the outer part of the left elbow get injured because of repetitive use or left wrist and arm.

This is commonly found in tennis players as they have to raise their hands repetitively to serve the tennis ball. Those who are associated with other professions and use their left hand for painting or using plumbing tools are also prone to tennis elbow.


Though it is not very common, the possibility of stress related pain cannot be ruled out. It is more common in those people who suffer from panic attacks quite frequently.

The arm pain starts all of a sudden and its accompanying symptoms are quite similar to that of a heart attack. However, it subsides on its own within an hour.

  • A patient suffering from a pain along with serious signs of heart attack or stroke, should be rushed to the hospital for emergency treatment.
  • Others who get the pain persistently should not neglect it either and get timely treatment. When you visit the doctor with this problem, he will ascertain the cause with the help of the symptoms described by you, physical examination of the entire left hand and X-rays.
  • If there is swelling in the arm, then it has to be rested at an elevated position.
  • A cold compression for 10-15 minutes can give a lot of relief from the annoying pain.
  • Use of compression bandage is also recommended to decrease the swelling.
  • Doctors may prescribe pain relieving medicines if the pain is unbearable.
  • Those who have fractured arm bone have to keep the left arm in immobile state with a splint.
  • People who are diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome should avoid repetitive activities such as racquet sports, playing piano or typing.
  • If the injuries in the nerves or other soft tissues are found to be serious, then the patients have to undergo physical therapy once the pain subsides. This will ensure faster recovery.
The moment you get throbbing pain, the first obvious thought that crosses your mind is that of a heart attack. Now, that you have gone through this article, you are aware of the fact that it is not the sole cause. Therefore, you must act sensibly and cure the root cause of the problem.

Disclaimer: This Buzzle article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.