Arm Pain & Heart Attack

Arm pain can have many causes. Sometimes dull aches in your arms may have nothing to do with heart. On the other side, arm pain is indeed one of the warning signs of a heart attack. Also, men and women have different feelings of arm pain. That’s why people nowadays are trying to understand what kind of arm pain forebodes a real heart attack.

Arm pain, dull aches, and different feelings
Do you often have dull aches in the arms?

Why do people feel arm pain in a heart attack?

When a blockage occurs in the artery, the blood can’t go through, which will make the heart muscle cells gradually run out of oxygen. As a result, these cells begin to send off signals of pain through the nerve system. The brain may confuse those nerve signals with signals coming from the arm, or the jaw, shoulder, elbow, neck or upper back, because of the complexity of the nerve system.

Arm pain, dull aches, and different feelings
An elderly lady experiencing heart discomfort

What does the arm pain feel like? Dull aches?

Pain is not the only feeling. You may feel it as electrical, tingling, pins-and-needles, dull aches, weakness, heaviness or a crushing feeling, as described by many surviving from heart attack.

Some people feel arm pain while sleeping. The kind of pain in arm that is severe enough to awake you at night can be a warning sign of heart attack. In such cases, you’d better be cautious and go to the ER as soon as you can.

Different feelings in men vs. women

Men usually can feel chest pain during a heart attack, along with shoulder or arm pain, mainly on the left shoulder and arm. The symptoms can be quite different for women. Women might not feel chest pain at all. Women might feel arm pain from left side, or right side, or both sides, or alternating from left to right. Some female survivors said they had dreadful elbow pain. In some cases, women feel nothing but teeth pain. The arm pain might happen once, or a couple of times before the heart attack.


An Mayo Clinic cardiologist once said the pain caused by a heart attack can be from neck to navel. So if you start to feel severe, unexplained pain from neck to navel, be cautious and visit the ER. Sometimes, the ER doctors might misdiagnose when your symptoms are atypical. In such cases, you can state clearly to the ER doctors that you think you’re having a heart attack.

Arm pain, dull aches, and different feelings
Heart-related pain

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