Arm Problems, Noninjury
Arm Problems, Noninjury
If your arm problem does not
require an evaluation by a doctor, you may be able to use home treatment to
help relieve pain, swelling, stiffness or muscle cramps.
Home treatment for arm pain, swelling, or stiffness
- Rest and protect a stiff
or sore area. Stop, change, or take a break from any activity that may be
causing your pain or soreness.
- Ice will
reduce pain and swelling. Apply
ice or cold packs immediately to prevent or minimize swelling. Apply the ice
or cold pack for 10 to 20 minutes, 3 or more times a day.
- For the first 48 hours, avoid things that
might increase swelling, such as hot showers, hot tubs, hot packs, and alcoholic
- After 48 to 72 hours, if swelling is gone, apply
heat and begin
gentle exercise with the aid of moist heat to help
restore and maintain flexibility. Some experts recommend alternating between
heat and cold treatments.
- Compression, or wrapping
the sore area with an elastic bandage (such as an Ace wrap), will help decrease
swelling. Don't wrap it too tightly, since this can cause more swelling below the
affected area. Loosen the bandage if it gets too tight. Signs that the bandage
is too tight include numbness, tingling, increased pain, coolness, or swelling
in the area below the bandage. Talk to your doctor if you think you need to use
a wrap for longer than 48 to 72 hours; a more serious problem may be
- Elevate the painful area on pillows
while applying ice and anytime you are sitting or lying down. Try to keep the
area at or above the level of your heart to help minimize
- Remove rings , bracelets, watches, or any other jewelry
from your hand and arm. It will be more difficult to remove the jewelry later
if swelling increases. Swelling without removal of jewelry can cause other
serious problems, such as compression of nerves or restriction of blood
- Wear a
sling if it makes you more comfortable and supports
the area. If you feel you need to use a sling for more than 48 hours, discuss
your symptoms with your doctor.
- Gently massage or rub the area to
relieve pain and encourage blood flow. Do not massage the area if it causes
- Do not smoke or use other tobacco products. Smoking slows
healing because it decreases blood supply and delays tissue repair. For more
information, see the topic
Home treatment for muscle cramps
- Gently stretch the cramping
- If you do not have swelling, you may rub or gently massage
- If you think your muscle cramps are brought on by
exercise, heat, or dehydration, drink some extra water. If available, drink an
electrolyte replacement drink (such as Gatorade or Pedialyte)
diluted with water to half strength. These drinks will help replace sugar,
salt, and other minerals. Be sure to read and follow any label warnings. Avoid
drinks that contain caffeine or alcohol, which will cause water loss from the
- Move your arms and flex your fingers and hands. Gentle motion
may help with cramps brought on by exercise.
- Make sure you are
getting enough minerals such as
magnesium. Most people get enough minerals eating a
normal variety of foods. Talk with your doctor about taking extra
Medicine you can buy without a prescription
| Try a nonprescription
medicine to help treat your fever or pain:|
Talk to your child's doctor before switching back and
forth between doses of acetaminophen and ibuprofen. When you switch between two
medicines, there is a chance your child will get too much medicine.
| Be sure to follow these
safety tips when you use a nonprescription medicine:|
- Carefully read and follow all directions
on the medicine bottle and box.
- Do not take more than the
- Do not take a medicine if you have had an
allergic reaction to it in the past.
you have been told to avoid a medicine, call your doctor before you take
- If you are or could be pregnant, do not take any medicine other
than acetaminophen unless your doctor has told you to.
- Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than age 20 unless your doctor tells you to.
Symptoms to watch for during home treatment
Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home
- You are unable to use your arm
- Signs of infection develop.
tingling; or cool, pale skin develops.
- Symptoms become more frequent or more severe.
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
June 27, 2012
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