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Dr. D. Love
Dr. D. Love, Doctor
Category: Medical
Satisfied Customers: 18213
Experience:  Family Physician for 10 years; Hospital Medical Director for 10 years.
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12 months I have had increasing pain in both upper arms,

Resolved Question:

For about 12 months I have had increasing pain in both upper arms, generally between my elbows and shoulder. It started seemingly related to movement, if I reached out for something, or scratching my back. It has got much worse over time and now affects every thing I do with my arms. There is fairly constant pain now, but Movement still makes it much worse and the pain is excruciating, normal everyday things are very painful like putting shirts on or off, showering and drying etc. I had a course of physio earlier this year which did little and have been waiting for weeks for an appointment with muscular/skeletal department. I am now very worried about this and am imagining all sorts of things. I wonder if you can put my mind at ease that this is not something very nasty.
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Medical
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 11 months ago.

Hello from JustAnswer.

Is it also tender to press on the area of tenderness of both arms?

Have you had any x-rays of the arms?

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
I feel pain in the arm I am pressing with rather than the arm I am pressing onto. No, I have had no X-rays.
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 11 months ago.

Thank you for the additional information.

OI ask about tenderness because tenderness is far better at localizing the site of the problem than is pain. The perception of pain in the body can be distant from the site of the problem. For example, pain in the arms can be due to problems in the arms, but also is often referred from a problem in the neck. Since there is no tenderness when you press on the arms, it does not help to localize the location of the underlying condition, therefore also does not help to narrow the possible conditions.

It is certainly true that doctors performing a physical examination know the areas to press better than laypeople, so your doctor may be able to get a better impression from exam.

As for easing your mind, I obviously cannot give a definite diagnosis over the internet. However, even without localization from tenderness, I can say that it is statistically vastly more likely that this is a benign condition than something nasty. Anyone that searches the internet will find stories of people with horrendous diseases that started with musculoskeletal pain, such as various types of cancer. But the reality is that these cases are a very small minority of people that present with pain in the extremities. It certainly is appropriate for someone with persistent symptoms to pursue further evaluation, so that a definitive diagnosis can be established, and until that evaluation is done, it cannot be definitely stated that it is not something nasty, but the statistical likelihood that it is something nasty is quite low.

If I can provide any additional information, please let me know.

Dr. D. Love, Doctor
Category: Medical
Satisfied Customers: 18213
Experience: Family Physician for 10 years; Hospital Medical Director for 10 years.
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