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Bleeding and Clotting Disorders

Arm pain following blood test

01/04/2007

Question:

I had a blood test drawn from my median cubital vein in my left arm approximately 2 months ago. After the blood test, I developed a bruise (1-1/2" by 1-1/2") and my arm was very sore whenever I tried to extend it normally. The bruise healed in 10 or so days. I have been expereincing strange sensations in my arm since. Sometimes there is itching inside my arm.

Sometimes there is pain in my elbow, sometimes above where my bicep and tricep meet on the medial aspect of my upper arm, sometimes below on the anterior surface of my lower arm but not always. There is no redness and my circulation seems to be fine (normal skin and nail color, normal temp). Is it possible that my symptoms could be related to a complication from my blood test and require follow up with a doctor? I`m unsure if this is something serious or nothing to worry about. Any comments would be appreciated. Thanks.

Answer:

It is possible that there has been an injury to a (very) small superficial nerve at the time of the blood draw. Do you have pain down the hand? Have you noticed swelling, abnormal sweating or color changes? Alternatively, the timing of the blood draw may have been incidental with the development of pain in that part from another cause (e.g. herniated disc in the neck).

If the discomfort is due to injury of a small superficial nerve, the pain frequently resolves on its own, after a few months. There are safe medications that can alleviate the discomfort. It is always a good idea to follow up with a physician. A neurologist or board certified pain management specialist may be appropriate physicians for your condition.

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Response by:

Salim M Hayek, MD, PhD Salim M Hayek, MD, PhD
Associate Professor of Anesthesiology & Perioperative Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University