Pain in Upper Right Arm Between Elbow and Shoulder


Soreness or pain in your upper right arm between the elbow and shoulder is usually not a sign of anything serious (Elbow and arm pain - NHS).1 If you are right-handed, certain activities (such as writing, throwing, lifting) can develop a painful condition that may affect your upper right arm.1 If the pain is persistent, make an appointment to see your GP at the earliest to rule out any serious conditions and get the best treatment to manage your symptoms.1

Types of shoulder pain

(different sensations, numbness, tingling stiffness etc)

Types of Shoulder PainSymptoms
Frozen shoulder, arthritis (osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis)Persistent pain and stiffness which remains for months or years
Tendonitis, bursitis, shoulder impingementSevere pain  during movement of arm or shoulder
Shoulder instability, hypermobilityTingling, numbness, weak arm, sensation of clicking or locking of shoulders
Dislocated shoulder, broken bone (arm or collarbone), torn or ruptured tendonSevere and sudden pain leading to difficulty in arm movement
Acromioclavicular joint (dislocated/stretched/torn ligament)Pain experienced on the top of the shoulder (where collarbone and shoulder meet)

(Shoulder pain - NHS)2

Causes of elbow and shoulder pain

(For each cause give symptoms, location, causes etc)

TendonitisInflammation of tendon after tendon injuryTendon (cord which connects the muscle to bone)Joint pain and stiffness influence tendon movement
Sprain and StrainOverstretching/torn muscle (strain) or twisted/torn ligament (sprain). Often caused by not warming up before exercising, tired muscles or during playing a sport.Muscle and ligamentPain, tenderness or weakness found around your ankle, foot, wrist, thumb, knee, leg or backSwollen or bruised at site of injuryMuscle spasm or crampingPain when you put weight on the injury or use it normally
Frozen ShoulderTissue inflammation around the shoulder. Generally occurs when you have an injury/surgery which prevents arm movement or in diabetic patientsShoulder (located at the top of your arm)Persistent pain or stiffness in the shoulder lasting for months or years.
ArthritisInflammation of joints. Common causes include wear and tear of joints from overuse, old age, injuries, obesity, muscle weakness, previous joint injury, autoimmune disorders and genes.JointsPain, tenderness and stiffness in the jointsInflammation in and around the jointsRestricted joint movement Warm red skin over the infected jointWeakness and muscle wasting (due to physical inactivity)
Bursitis (Inflamed shoulder)Bursae of the shoulder or elbow become painful and swollen.Bursa (fluid-filled sacs which cushion your joints)Dull, achy pain in the jointsTender and warm skinSwollenLimited movement
Torn Rotator CuffInjury (tear may occur suddenly when falling on an outstretched hand or overtime due to repetitive activities)) or degeneration of tissues (due to aging).Rotator cuff (consists of muscles and tendons that hold the shoulder in place)Recurrent painGrating or cracking sound during arm movement Limited arm movementMuscle weakness
Bicipital tendinitisInflammation of tendon. Common cause includes playing contact sports which easily injure this tendon)Bicep tendon (connects bicep muscle to front of shoulder)Pain in the front and side of shoulder (which may feel like it’s traveling down the upper arm to the elbow)

(Elbow and arm pain - NHS)3

When to seek medical attention

Elbow and arm pain is usually not a sign of anything serious, and should resolve on its own with home care and remedies.3 If you experience frequent or persistent pain/swelling/redness which does not improve after a few weeks, consult your GP.3 

Get advice from 111 if:

  • You experience pain when you exercise but it goes away when you rest
  • Your arm or shoulder region is swollen and you have a high temperature or you feel hot and shivery
  • You experience difficulty in movement and extreme pain in your arm/shoulder
  • Your arm/shoulder tingles or feels numb
  • Your arm/shoulder is injured or swollen, and you hear a snapping noise/change in arm shape3

These can be a sign of angina (a heart problem), infection or an injured arm/shoulder.3 111 will give advice in the UK for non-emergencies on what you should do and where you can get the right help.3

Call 999 in the UK or your local emergency number if:

  • You experience sudden pain and chest tightness. This could be a sign of a heart attack3

Medical treatments

  • Surgery. Most conditions improve without the need for surgery. If surgery is required, keyhole technique can be used, which requires a smaller incision and reduces recovery time. Surgeries include repairing tears in the rotator cuff, releasing the tight capsule in the frozen shoulder, and trimming bone and tissue etc. Conventional surgery may be necessary in some circumstances (to repair large tears in the rotator cuff)
  • Prescribing medication including antibiotics for infection or steroids for severe pain and inflammation. (Causes of Severe Upper Arm Pain | Buoy Health)4
  • Physical therapy or rehabilitation for restoration of motion, strength and shoulder stability after injury4
  • Acupuncture for severe pain4
  • Cortisone injection into the shoulder joint or around the pinched nerve in the neck to reduce local inflammation4 

Home treatments

Try the following home remedies to provide relief. If the pain persists, contact your GP:

  • Put a pack of frozen peas wrapped in a tea towel/ ice pack where you feel pain/swelling.. Do this for 5 minutes, 3 times a day.3 Ice is good for reducing pain and swelling
  • Put a hot water bottle in a tea towel on the region you feel pain. Do this for 20 minutes, 2 to 3 times a day. Heat is useful for loosening tight muscles and joints4
  • Over-the-counter painkillers (in the form of tablet, cream or gel) to provide relief from pain such as paracetamol, ibuprofen(Motrin, Advil), naproxen (Aleve) or acetaminophen (Tylenol)3
  • Raise your arm if swollen or use a compression bandage to reduce swelling3 
  • Rest your arm or avoid activity which causes pain to aid pain relief. Aim for a balance between rest and activity to prevent a stiff shoulder. Avoid movements which are painful and maintain a good posture when sitting and standing4
  • Exercises can help reduce pain/swelling and improve flexibility. Recommended exercises include crossover arm stretch, tricep stretch, chest stretch etc


If you experience mild to moderate pain in your upper right arm between your shoulder and elbow, take rest and follow the recommended home remedies to ease symptoms. If the pain is severe, persistent or frequent, schedule an appointment with your GP to rule out the possibility of any serious condition and get a proper diagnosis and treatment.


  1. Elbow and arm pain. NHS. Available here:
  2. Shoulder Pain. NHS. Available here:
  3. Elbow and arm pain. NHS. Available here:
  4. Causes of severe upper arm pain. Buoy Health. Available here: 
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Hannah Khairaz

BSc Biomedical Sciences Student, University College London

Hannah Khairaz is passionate about health, research, medical writing and educating the public about current advancements in medicine.

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