Advertisement

What could cause shooting pain and numbness down my arm?

Anthony L. Komaroff, MD
Internal Medicine
Shooting pain down the arm with numbness suggests a nerve problem.

Possible causes include a pinched or compressed nerve in the neck or in branches of nerves that travel through the shoulder or arm. Arthritis in the neck or a bulging ("slipped") disc can also be the cause.

Another possibility is a muscle strain or tear. A muscle injury may cause swelling that irritates a nearby nerve, causing numbness. Shoulder injuries commonly cause pain that is felt in the upper arm rather than in the shoulder itself. This phenomenon is called referred pain.

Other causes of pain after exercise include tendonitis, a stress fracture, or a joint injury, but these are less likely to cause pain that radiates from the shoulder to the fingertips.

If your symptoms continue, see your doctor for an evaluation, as there are many possible causes and treatments for your symptoms.
Harvard Medical School Low Back Pain: Healing your aching back

More About this Book

Harvard Medical School Low Back Pain: Healing your aching back

Back pain is one of the most common, non-life-threatening, painful conditions, affecting four in five Americans at some point in their lives. And many have to be wary of return bouts. But low back...

Continue Learning about Pain

Breaking Free From Pain and Stress
Breaking Free From Pain and Stress
More than 126 million U.S. adults reported experiencing pain in the previous three months according to a 2015 study in the Journal of Pain—25.3 millio...
Read More
What causes shoulder pain?
Rick OldermanRick Olderman
Assuming you've ruled out heart, cancer, or other non-musculoskeletal issues, shoulder pain can be c...
More Answers
6 Ways to Stay Pain Free This Winter
6 Ways to Stay Pain Free This Winter6 Ways to Stay Pain Free This Winter6 Ways to Stay Pain Free This Winter6 Ways to Stay Pain Free This Winter
Ease irritated joints and avoid cold-weather injuries with these expert-approved tips.
Start Slideshow
How Do I Identify Pre-Pain Symptoms to Avoid Chronic Pain?
How Do I Identify Pre-Pain Symptoms to Avoid Chronic Pain?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.