Arm pain usually refers to pain originating from somewhere between your shoulder and your wrist. However, lupus arm pain doesn’t have to originate in your arm; spinal problems or injuries can cause pain that you feel in your arm but that actually arises in your neck and upper back. Pain that radiates into your left arm can even be a sign of a heart attack.

Your arms are made up of three major bones and nerves as well as muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints. All are susceptible to damage or injury that can cause arm pain.

Often, arm pain is fairly minor, but some fractures and nerve problems can cause severe pain and may require extensive medical care. Other types of arm pain usually respond well to home treatments.

Lupus Pain and other symptoms in the arm and shoulder may be due to injury of the neck or cervical spine. The seven cervical vertebrae (spinal bones) in the neck have highly mobile joints so that you can bend and tilt your neck. Since the neck is exceptionally flexible, it is susceptible to injury and pain which can be referred to the shoulder and the arm. (It should be noted, however, that pain in the arm and shoulder may be due to other conditions not related to the cervical spine such as frozen shoulder, strain/sprain syndromes, or bursitis).

The vertebrae are separated by discs, which are stiff jelly-like pads that act as elastic cushions between the spinal bones. Neck, shoulder and arm pain may be caused by an abnormal bulging or protrusion of a disc in the cervical spine. The disc may impinge on the spinal nerve roots or irritate the spinal cord itself. This is also known as a herniated or slipped disc.

Cervical disc lesions that can cause arm and shoulder pain can be acute or chronic. For example, sudden and severe pain (acute torticollis) can result from lying too still for too long, on a pillow too thick or too thin, or in a position that keeps the neck in a sideways position for a long period.

(Source: Chou R, Baisden J, Carragee EJ, Resnick DK, Shaffer WO, Loeser JD (2009). “Surgery for low back pain: a review of the evidence for an American Pain Society Clinical Practice Guideline”. Spine 34 (10): 1094–109.)


What are some SLE arm pain treatments?


One natural treatment of SLE arm pain is to apply an ice pack(s) to the area to reduce inflammation and swelling and thereby decrease the pain. Use the ice pack(s) for periods of 15 minutes with at least a 30-minute interval between each application.

If you have insidious, recurring pain, apply moist heat to the back of the neck, arm and shoulders. Use the heat for periods of 20 minutes with at least a 30minute interval between each application. A word of caution: these are temporary remedies and not a substitute for seeking immediate professional evaluation and care.

(Source: Hagen K, Hilde G, Jamtvedt G, Winnem M (2004). “Bed rest for acute low-back pain and sciatica”. Cochrane Database Syst Rev (4): CD001254.)