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Sports Medicine

Losing strength in my left arm



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


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.

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Response by:

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