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If You Feel This in Your Arm, it's Time to Call a Doctor

Be mindful of these five symptoms on your arm, expert warns. 
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Our bodies are constantly communicating with us and trying to convey when something is wrong. This is done through symptoms like bloating and pain, which can oftentimes be overlooked and dismissed. Many parts of our body can talk to us and indicate there's a problem, including our arms. According to Dr. Tomi Mitchell, a Board-Certified Family Physician with Holistic Wellness Strategies if you notice these five things on your arm, it's time to schedule an appointment with your doctor. As always, please consult your physician for medical advice. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Virtual Healthcare

woman in casual clothing using laptop and smiling while working indoors

Dr. Mitchell tells us, "In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the delivery of healthcare services has undergone a dramatic transformation. In the past, patients would have to physically go to a doctor's office or hospital to receive care. However, the advent of virtual care has now made it possible for patients to receive care from the comfort of their homes. While some people are still hesitant to use this new modality of care, there is no denying that it has become the new norm. Even as people are slowly beginning to make their way back into doctors' offices, the pandemic has irrevocably changed the landscape of healthcare delivery. Virtual care is here to stay, poised to revolutionize how we think about and receive healthcare.

There has been a growing trend of patients seeking virtual care, rather than in-person visits, for various reasons. While this can be convenient for the patient and the doctor, it has limitations. One of the virtual care's biggest challenges is that we rely heavily on the patient to communicate their symptoms accurately. Without being able to perform a physical exam, we rely heavily on the patient's description of their symptoms. This can be difficult, as patients may not always be aware of what is happening inside their bodies or be unable to articulate their symptoms clearly. As a result, virtual care can sometimes be less effective than in-person care. However, with new technology and improvements in communication, these challenges are gradually being overcome.

Patients need to be as honest and forthcoming as possible with their doctors, but sometimes there are things that they simply forget to mention. This is especially true regarding the arms, which might not always be easily viewed on a camera during a virtual visit or even be in plain sight during an in-person visit. Even if patients are diligent about checking their arms for changes, they might not always recognize something as being important enough to mention to their doctor. It's important to err on the side of caution and bring up anything out of the ordinary, no matter how small it may seem. Doctors are trained to spot changes that could indicate a more serious problem, and it's better to have them check it out than to ignore it and risk missing something important."


New or Changing Moles

close-up of doctors hands checking mans moles

Dr. Mitchell explains, "Moles are growths on the skin that can be either flat or raised. They are typically brown or black in color and can appear on any body area. While most moles are harmless, size, shape, or color changes can be an early sign of skin cancer. For this reason, it is essential to be aware of any new or changing moles on your body. If you notice a mole that is larger than a pencil eraser, has irregular edges or is changing in color, you should see a doctor for further evaluation. While most moles are benign, it is always better to err on caution when it comes to your health."


Unexplained Bruises


Dr. Mitchell shares, "Unexplained bruising can be a symptom of many underlying health conditions, ranging from minor to serious. While some causes, such as bumping into furniture or taking certain medications, are harmless, others can indicate a more serious problem. For example, bruising can be a sign of leukemia, cancer affecting the blood cells. Leukemia can cause the body to produce abnormal blood cells that do not function properly. These cells are more likely to break down and die, leading to increased bruising. In addition, bruises can also occur due to blood disorders such as Von Willebrand disease and platelet disorders. These conditions make it difficult for the blood to clot properly, which can result in easy bruising. If you have unexplained bruising, you must speak with your doctor to determine the cause. Ignoring this symptom could lead to serious health complications."



hands of Middle-aged women patient with Parkinson's disease

"While pain in the arm can often be benign, some instances can signify a more serious condition," Dr. Mitchell states. "For example, arm pain that is accompanied by nausea, sweating, or shortness of breath could be a sign of a heart attack. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to other symptoms that may accompany arm pain, and to seek medical attention if the pain is severe or persists for more than a few days. Additionally, arm pain resulting from an injury should also be evaluated by a doctor, as it may require treatment such as surgery or physical therapy. Ignoring arm pain could lead to more serious health problems down the road, so it is always best to avoid caution and consult a medical professional."



parkinsons disease eating habit

According to  Dr. Mitchell, "When a person experiences swelling in their arm, it is typically the tissue expressing an abnormal fluid accumulation. When this occurs, it is referred to as edema. While edema can affect any body area, it is most commonly seen in the lower legs and feet. Several reasons might occur, such as sitting or standing for long periods, certain medications, being pregnant, or having a chronic medical condition like heart failure or kidney disease. However, there are also more severe causes of arm swelling, such as a blood clot or infection. Therefore, if you experience any sudden or unexpected arm swelling, it is important to see a doctor so that they can determine the cause and appropriate treatment."


Numbness or Tingling

Parkinson's disease woman holding glass

Dr. Mitchell says, "While a temporary numbing or tingling sensation in your arm may not be cause for alarm, it could be a sign of a more serious condition. For example, numbness in the arms can be a symptom of nerve damage, which can be caused by diabetes, vitamin B12 deficiency, or even carpal tunnel syndrome. Tingling in the arms can also signify circulation problems, such as peripheral artery disease. If you experience numbness or tingling in your arms, it's important to see a doctor to rule out any underlying health conditions. Ignoring these symptoms could lead to further complications down the road."

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather
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