Arm Injuries: Signs, Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

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An arm injury refers to damage to any of the structures in the arm, often

Arm Injuries
Arm Injuries

occurring as a result of injury. Most arm injuries occur from falls and accidents. Arm injuries usually include arm contusions, arm dislocations and arm fractures. Soft tissue injuries of the arm include lacerations, stab wounds, puncture wounds and abrasions.

A person with an arm injury will typically experience pain his affected arm along with arm swelling, arm tenderness and arm deformity.

Treatment for arm injuries usually includes rest, cold compresses, elevation and pain medication to relieve symptoms such as pain and swelling. Additional treatment may include application of a cast or splint by a doctor. Complicated injuries to the arm such as fractures may require surgery.

Important: the information posted on this page on arm injuries, signs, symptoms, causes and treatment is for learning purposes only. To learn to recognize and manage these types of injuries register for first aid and CPR training. 

Signs and symptoms

Signs and symptoms of minor arm injuries include:

  • Arm pain
  • Worsening arm pain with movement or touch
  • Arm swelling
  • Arm tenderness
  • Arm bruising
  • Arm abrasions

Signs and symptoms of sever arm injuries may include:

  • Sever e arm pain
  • Severe arm brusing
  • Sever arm swelling
  • Severe arm tenderness
  • Severe bleeding of the arm
  • Arm deformity
  • Numnebness of the arm, hand or fingers
  • Tingling of the arm
  • Tingling of the hand or fingers fo the affected arm
  • Inability to move the arm
  • Deep puncture wounds to the arm
  • Deep stab wounds to the arm
  • Deep lacerations to the arm


Causes of arm injuries include:

  • Falls
  • Automobile accidents
  • Direct blows to the arm
  • Sports injuries
  • Pulling or sudden jerking of the arm – common in children
  • Twisting of the arm

When a direct blow affects one of the joints of the arm, three main types of injury may occur:

  • Sprain. Damage to the ligaments of the arm
  • Strain. Damage to the tendons of the arm
  • Fracture. Damage of the bones of the arm


Treatment for arm injuries usually depends on the type, severity and location of the injury to the arm.

For minor arm injuries, the following treatment measures may be required:

1. Cold compresses

  • Apply cold compresses to the injuries arm using an ice pack or ice wrapped in a towel.
  • Avoid applying ice directly to the skin.
  • Continue compressing for 20-30 mnutes, every 2 hours until symptoms subside – this often takes about a few dyas

2. Rest the affected arm

  • Avoid activites that may cause pain or trigger symptoms of arm injury
  • For certain arm injuries, your doctor may advise you to wear a sling for comfort
  • Avoid long-term immobilization using a sling as it may result in frozen shoulder

3. Elevate

  • Keep the arm elevated above heart level, is possible

4. Control pain and swelling

  • Take acetaminophen or ibuprofen to reduce pai and swelling
  • Avoid giving aspirin to children and teenagers under 18 years of age as it is associated with a lethal disease called Reye’s syndrome

Other treatment options may include:

  • Apply a elastic wrap to the affected arm
  • Take narcotic pain medication for moderate to severe pain for short-term use only
  • Physiotherapy for arm injuries
  • Surgery for arm fractures

Emergency treatment measures for arm injuries include:

  • Emergency arm splint
  • Arm splint or cast
  • Surgery for broken bones in the arm

Learn More

To learn more about managing, recognizing and treat various arm injuries sign up for first aid and CPR training through St Mark James.

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