Home HealthTopics Health Centers Reference Library Research
Join us on Facebook Join us on Facebook Share on Facebook

Sports Medicine

Losing strength in my left arm

04/09/2007

Question:

What would cause me to lose strength in my left arm? Shoulder to elbow is affected.

Answer:

When there is significant loss of strength in an extremity, it is very important to be evaluated by a physician to determine the cause of the weakness.  Loss of strength in the upper arm can be caused by one of several different etiologies:

1) Muscle problem: inflammatory conditions of the muscle can cause weakness of an extremity, although many of these conditions would not affect only one side of the body

2) Nerve problem: a pinched nerve in the neck or in the arm could cause focal weakness in a part of the arm on just one side. This pinched nerve may or may not also cause neck pain.

3) Spinal cord or brain problem: inflammation or pressure on the spinal cord or brain or a stroke can cause isolated weakness of a single side or extremity of the body.

4) Mechanical problem: a torn cartilage in the shoulder joint or problem with the rotator cuff in the shoulder can cause isolated subjective weakness in the upper arm.

As you are no doubt aware, a diagnosis cannot be made over the Internet; if your symptoms remain, examination by a physician is advisable. I hope this helps.

For more information:

Go to the Sports Medicine health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Charles Webster, MD
Assistant Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati