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Pain in upper left arm?
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Pain in upper left arm?

This has only been going on for 3 days straight, so I guess it's now exactly chronic pain, but this was the closest topic I could find to post my question.
I am 41 years old, I have type 2 diabetes, I can't afford insurance or the meds, so I mainly just try to control my sugar and carb intake, I have had an unsuccessful lower back surgery for deteriorated disks, and I HAD surgery on my left shoulder for torn ligaments when I was 16, I had a pin in my shoulder for about 6 weeks or so, and then it was removed.  Other tha numbness where the scar is I have ner had any problems from this.
I have a fairly high threshold for pain, but I have had this pain in my left upper arm from my shoulder to my elbow.  I can't quite distinguish if it is in the muscle or bone.  It started 2 or 3 days ago, and just seems to be getting worse.  The pain worsens when I move my arm or cough, also when I rotate my thumb I get pain from the lowest joint of my thumb at the palm of my hand to my wrist.  This pain is getting to be to much fo me, and I need to know if there is anything I CAN do to relieve it?
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I recognize that it has been over a week since your post; you are probably better by now, or worse enough that the cause has become obvious!    In general, you are approaching the pain the same way that I would, but considering the different tissues in the area of the pain as you consider what the cause might be.  For bone, we would consider infection (osteomyelitis), fracture, or inflammation (arthritis); for soft tissue we would consider infection again, and also consider the vascular system, including blood clots in the arteries or veins.  We also must consider the nerves in the area, including 'referred pain', or pain that is coming from a distant area but that localizes in the arm.  The pain of angina, for example, often localizes to the left arm.

As a person with poorly treated diabetes you are at risk for a number of serious conditions, from heart disease (diabetics have a higher risk of 'silent heart attacks' where the person has no symptoms during the event), to infection, to blood clots, to inflammation of the veins (thrombitis).  People with diabetes can also have painful 'infarcts' of the major nerves in the body, where the tiny blood vessels that provide oxygen to the nerves become occluded.

Bottom line-- you need to be hyper-aware of any new symptoms (such as what you are describing) and follow the symptoms closely, ready to get to the hospital if certain things become evident-- such as any infection (a rise in body temperature, swelling that suggests an abscess, or redness streaking in the arm), obstruction to blood flow (swelling of an extremity, rings suddenly not fitting, discoloration of a limb), or major organ involvement (shortness of breath, chest pain, blood in the urine or stool, coughing up blood or colored mucous).  I realize that I took some specific symptoms and gave a vague answer, but the problem with not having health insurance is that people sometimes wait too long to have easy things taken care of... and they become serious things in time.  Not having insurance puts the burden on you to be very aware of your body, and quick to respond when something is taking a turn for the worse.  The symptoms you describe would not necessarily make me rush to a hospital, but if I developed a fever, swelling of the arm, or sudden onset of weakness or numbness, I would get it checked out.
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