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Causes of Pain in the Right Arm

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 Right Arm
Right arm pain can be frustrating and debilitating. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images

Right arm pain can be caused by numerous injuries or medical conditions. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health or NIH, arm pain, including right arm pain, is often accompanied by numbness and tingling in the arms, hands and fingers on the affected side. Arm pain can be caused by repetitive overuse, traumatic injuries or structural abnormalities in the neck, shoulder and arm. Arm pain ranges from mild to severe, depending on the cause and the location of the pain.


Syringomyelia can cause right arm pain. According to the MayoClinic.com, syringomyelia involves the formation of a fluid-filled cyst or syrinx in the spinal cord. Over time, the syrinx may expand, causing damage to the spinal cord, along with pain, weakness and other symptoms in the upper extremity. Left unchecked, syringomyelia can become worse, requiring surgical intervention. The most common cause of syringomyelia is a Chiari malformation, which occurs when a portion of the brain protrudes into the spinal canal. Other possible causes of syringomyelia include traumatic spinal cord injuries, spinal cord tumors and inflammation-related damage around the spinal cord. Possible signs and symptoms associated with syringomyelia include: pain in the neck, arms and back, changes in bowel and bladder function, muscle weakness and loss of sensitivity to pain and temperature.

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

Thoracic outlet syndrome can cause right arm pain. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke or NINDS--a division of the National Institutes of Health--states that thoracic outlet syndrome is a general term that describes several related conditions that cause pain in the arm, shoulder and neck. Thoracic outlet syndrome, which can manifest on one or both sides of the body, occurs when the brachial plexus--a network of nerves--or the subclavian artery and vein are compressed in the space between the collar bone and the first rib. Compression of these structures can cause pain or discomfort, along with numbness and tingling, in the neck, shoulder, arm and hand on the affected side. Possible causes of thoracic outlet syndrome include trauma, repetitive injury and anatomical abnormalities, such as a cervical rib or a rib in the lower cervical spine or neck.

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

Cubital tunnel syndrome can cause right arm pain. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons or AAOS, cubital tunnel syndrome, also known as ulnar nerve entrapment, occurs when the ulnar nerve--one of the largest nerves in the upper extremity--becomes compressed as it passes through the cubital tunnel in the elbow. The cubital tunnel is located near the bony bump on the inside aspect of the elbow called the medial epicondyle. The American Society for Surgery of the Hand states that when the pressure on the ulnar nerve is sufficient to impair the nerve's function, pain, numbness and tingling may be felt in the elbow, forearm, hand and fingers on the affected side. Pressure on the ulnar nerve may be caused by holding the elbow in a bent position for prolonged periods. This is particularly common cause of cubital tunnel syndrome during sleep and certain work activities.

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