• Chest pain that radiates to the left arm can be life-threatening and indicate a heart attack. Or it could be another issue that is less serious but still painful. Chest pain that radiates to the left arm can be heart related, nerve related or caused by something else.

    Heart Related

    A heart attack, angina, pericarditis (inflammation of heart's protective sac) and other heart-related conditions can cause chest pain traveling to the left arm, according to the Mayo Clinic. The pain radiates to the left side because of confusion of the nervous system during a cardiac event. Also, the heart is located a bit left of the chest's center.

    Pinched Nerve

    A pinched nerve in the neck can cause a variety of symptoms, including chest pain, according to Nathan Wei, a rheumatologist and arthritis expert. If the compressed nerve is on the left side, pain will radiate down the left arm and into the hands and fingers.

    Muscoloskeletal Issues

    The Mayo Clinic states that a dislocated rib or tight shoulder muscles on the left side of the body can cause chest pain. Altered posture as a result of these could extend pain to the left arm. The deltoid, subscapularis and teres major or minor muscles are involved in arm movement. If these are tight, pain is more likely to spread to the arm.

    Digestive Conditions

    Heartburn, hiatal hernias, throat spasms and other digestive issues could cause chest pain, according to the Mayo Clinic. These conditions may cause coughing or muscle spasms that then can affect other areas of the body, including the left arm.

    Other Causes

    Anxiety attacks can cause tightness in the chest and tingling in one or both arms. Osteoarthritis may lead to bulging spinal discs, which in turn affect nerves that can induce left arm pain. Autoimmune disorders can cause pain almost anywhere in the body, and sometimes the pain is isolated to one side. Reasons for isolated pain are not clear.


    Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine: Sometimes (What Seems to Be) A Heart Attack Is (Really) Pain in the Neck

    Mayo Clinic: Chest Pain

    American Heart Association: Heart Attack, Stroke and Cardiac Arrest Warning Signs

    More Information:

    Arthritis Treatment and Relief: Pinch Nerve in Neck Pain in Arm Treatment

    American University: Muscles of the Upper Arm and Shoulder

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