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New York Cardiac Diagnostic Center

Left Arm Pain: When to Worry?

Left-arm pain becomes a cause for worry if it turns severe, begins to affect the functioning of the hand, or if it is accompanied by symptoms like tightening sensation in your chest or pins and needles. Do not ignore the persistent or sharp pain in the left arm and seek immediate medical help to have your condition evaluated and treated. Visit Dr. Steven Reisman at the New York Cardiac Diagnostic Center to know about possible causes of your pain, seeking relief, and diagnosing the underlying conditions to prevent further problems, including a heart attack.

Without any discomfort in the chest, left-arm pain may be a dull ache or a shooting sting associated with headaches and muscle weakness. If the pain persists, becomes severe, or moves up and down, see your doctor as it could be a sign of something critical and life-threatening.

Pain in the left arm can also result from several issues that include injuries and nerve damage. You can only learn about the exact causes of pain with the help of an experienced physician who determines the type of pain you are having and its sources with careful examination and screening.

Left Arm Pain – Is It a Sign of Heart Attack?

Left Arm Pain
Contrary to what people think, not all left arm pain or discomfort is a sign of heart attack. It could result from any other condition related to injury, compressed nerves, or other concerns that do not involve the heart. Many times pain in the arm can also improve on its own if you take time off from activities that cause injury or stress, use an ice pack on the sore area, or keep the arm elevated to improve blood flow. Understanding left arm pain and how it moves helps determine the key differences between how men and women get heart attacks.

How Men and Women Experience Left Arm Pain and Heart Attack

Chest tightening, sweating, and pain in the shoulder and arm are the most well-known symptoms of a classic heart attack. Research on cardiovascular diseases shows there are significant differences in how men and women experience a heart attack.

Men suffer from pain that moves from the shoulder to the left arm or up to the chin. It is a feeling of tightening or a squeezing sensation that comes and goes or remains constant. If the pain strikes suddenly and is severe or accompanied by pressure or squeezing in the chest, it needs emergency medical treatment to prevent any life-threatening situation.

Women do not experience standard symptoms like chest or arm pain. They face slight pain that radiates to the right or left arm. It can involve the chin, shoulder blades, and upper back. The pain can also reach into the abdomen and cause nausea, indigestion, and anxiety. As compared to men, women are more likely to experience fatigue.

Keeping an eye on your symptoms is necessary. If they last long and you are unable to bear the pain, get immediate medical help.

Common Heart Attack Symptoms

Some common heart attack symptoms experienced by men and women include:

  • Chest pain;
  • Discomfort;
  • Pressure or feeling or squeezing that occurs for a few minutes.

Such symptoms must not be left unattended as they need urgent medical treatment.

According to the heart experts, the following symptoms could be a warning sign of a heart attack and should not be ignored:

  • Pain or discomfort in the chest;
  • Lightheadedness, nausea, or vomiting;
  • Jaw, neck, or back pain;
  • Discomfort or pain in the arm or shoulder;
  • Shortness of breath.

Left-arm pain ranges from mild to severe. Consult your healthcare provider to discuss your condition and know more about the possible causes of acute discomfort.

Causes of Left Arm Pain


Pain in the left arm can stem from a bone fracture or muscle injury. The pain radiates from an injury elsewhere, such as on the wrist or hand, and shoots up the arm. A fall, accident, or sports trauma is a common cause of these injuries. If your arm is also red and swollen, there could be an underlying injury that must be investigated thoroughly.

Peripheral neuropathy

It is an umbrella term for conditions that damage the nerves of the peripheral nervous system. It can affect the nerves that run down the arms, causing pain and numbness in the area. Carpal tunnel syndrome is one type of peripheral neuropathy. It causes wrist pain and usually results from excessive computer use in the same position.

Poor circulation

Disruption of blood flow due to any reason can lead to poor circulation that results in pain in the arm. Pressure on the arms can restrict blood flow to the area and cause numbness, tingling sensation, or pain.

Read more: Symptoms of Poor Circulation in the Body


Anxiety can cause a pressure-like sensation, or if you are already suffering from pain from any other physical problem, it can worsen the pain. Too much anxiety can make you sensitive to even light pain if you are not sure what is causing it or do not know how to deal with this situation. Left-arm pain is not a sign of anxiety, but it can be a part of a psychological issue that needs professional help.

Heart attack

Left-arm pain may be an initial symptom of a heart attack, especially when associated with chest pressure. This pain becomes intense within a few minutes. Other symptoms of heart attack are discomfort or pressure in the center of the chest, feelings of pain in the jaw, neck, back, or stomach, and shortness of breath along with lightheadedness and sudden cold sweat.

Weakness in the arms or inability to raise both arms evenly can also be a sign of stroke and must be examined by an expert doctor.

Left-arm pain is a cause for concern if the pain does not seem to lessen even after medications or at-home treatments, and it begins to move to other parts of the body, disrupting your normal activities. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Steven Reisman to know about all types of conditions relating to the heart, what causes them, and how the underlying medical issues can be identified. Relying on the most advanced diagnostic equipment and multidisciplinary approach, the cardiologist at the New York Cardiac Diagnostic Center, comes up with positive solutions to provide relief and improve your quality of life.

Dr. Steven Reisman | Cardiologist in New York City

Dr. Steven Reisman is an internationally recognized cardiologist and heart specialist. He is a member of the American College of Cardiology, American Heart Association, and a founding member of the American Society of Nuclear Cardiology.

Dr. Reisman has presented original research findings for the early detection of "high risk" heart disease and severe coronary artery disease at the annual meetings of both the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association. Dr. Reisman was part of a group of doctors with the Food and Drug Administration who evaluated the dipyridamole thallium testing technique before the FDA approved it.

Dr. Steven Reisman's academic appointments include Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of California and Assistant Professor at SUNY. Hospital appointments include the Director of Nuclear Cardiology at the Long Island College Hospital.

This page was published on Oct 11, 2021, modified on May 26, 2022 by Dr. Reisman (Cardiologist) of New York Cardiac Diagnostic Center

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