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Causes of Pain in the Left Arm & Elbow

author image Martin Hughes
Martin Hughes is a chiropractic physician, health writer and the co-owner of a website devoted to natural footgear. He writes about health, fitness, diet and lifestyle. Hughes earned his Bachelor of Science in kinesiology at the University of Waterloo and his doctoral degree from Western States Chiropractic College in Portland, Ore.
Causes of Pain in the Left Arm & Elbow
Left-sided arm and elbow pain can affect activities of daily living. Photo Credit near the bridge image by Alexandra Gnatush-Kostenko from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>

Numerous conditions can cause left-sided arm and elbow pain. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, repetitive stress injuries, traumatic injuries and certain medical conditions can cause arm and elbow pain. Other parts of the body may affect the arm and elbow too, such as the wrist, shoulder and neck. The NIH suggests that an appropriate stretching and strengthening program can help prevent some types of arm and elbow pain.

Radial Head Fracture

Radial head fractures can cause left-sided arm and elbow pain. Fractures of the head of the radius--the smaller of the two long bones in the forearm--are common, accounting for about 20 percent of acute elbow injuries, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. The academy states that radial head fractures occur more often in women than men and in people between the ages of 30 and 40.

Falling on an outstretched arm and hand is one of the leading causes of radial head fractures. The force of the fall is transmitted from the wrist up the forearm, where an elbow dislocation or radial head fracture--or both--can occur. The radial head is a circular part of the bone that forms a joint with the ulna, which is the other long bone in the forearm. Common signs and symptoms associated with a radial head fracture include pain on the outside aspect of the elbow, elbow joint swelling, decreased elbow active range of motion and an inability to turn the palm up or down.

Nursemaid's Elbow

Nursemaid's elbow can cause left-sided arm and elbow pain. The Children's Hospital Boston, one of the United States's largest pediatric medical centers, states that nursemaid's elbow occurs when the radius bone slips from underneath the ligament connecting it with the rest of the elbow. According to the hospital, nursemaid's elbow, also known as pulled elbow, slipped elbow or toddler elbow, is a common injury among children, especially those under age 4.

The most common cause of nursemaid's elbow is a sudden pulling on the hand or forearm that causes the head of the radius bone to slip from underneath an elbow ligament that holds it in place. Swinging a child by the hand can cause nursemaid's elbow. Common signs and symptoms associated with nursemaid's elbow include immediate pain in the involved arm and elbow, an inability or apprehension to move the affected arm and anxiety.

Medial Epicondylitis

Medial epicondylitis can cause left-sided arm and elbow pain. According to MayoClinic.com, medial epicondylitis, also known as thrower's elbow or golfer's elbow, is pain and inflammation on the inside edge of the elbow. Medial epicondylitis causes pain where the forearm muscles attach to the bony bump or prominence on the inside of the elbow. Pain may also radiate into the forearm and wrist on the affected side.

MayoClinic.com states that athletes who perform repetitive wrist motion or clench their fingers are more susceptible to medial epicondylitis than others. Common signs and symptoms associated with medial epicondylitis include pain and tenderness on the inside part of the elbow, pain when making a fist, elbow stiffness, hand and wrist weakness and numbness or tingling in the fingers. According to MayoClinic.com, medial epicondylitis responds well to conservative care methods, such as rest, ice and stretching and strengthening exercises.

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