Arm inflammation can be caused by a number of medical conditions, particularly autoimmune disorders, or it can be the result of injury. Rheumatoid arthritis is one common culprit that causes inflammation in the joints of the arms. Inflammation of the blood vessels, a condition known as vasculitis, can also affect the arms, particularly in patients with Buerger's disease. Other diseases that can affect the arms include scleroderma, lupus, and dermatomyositis. Injuries may be the result of a single incident that causes strain or damage, from overuse, or from repetitive motion and can cause inflammation in the bones or joints, muscles, or tendons and ligaments.
A frequent cause of arm inflammation is rheumatoid arthritis. This autoimmune disorder afflicts the synovial membranes that line the joints, causing them to become swollen, stiff, and painful. When it affects the arms, it is particularly common in the wrists and fingers. Typically, the problem will arise on both sides of the body.
The blood vessels in the arms can become inflamed in patients with vasculitis, in particular a form known as Buerger's disease. This condition can cause pain and ulcerations along the arms and on the fingers, and may be accompanied by blood clots. People who smoke cigarettes may be more prone to this type of vasculitis.
A number of other medical conditions can also lead to arm inflammation. Patients with the autoimmune disorder lupus may experience inflammation in a number of different tissues in the arms, including muscles, skin, and joint tissues. Scleroderma, which is also an autoimmune disease, can affect the skin and blood vessels there. Long-term inflammation of the muscles in the body, caused by another autoimmune condition known as dermatomyositis, can affect the arms as well as other areas.
In addition to medical disorders, arm inflammation can also occur due to injury. Depending on the type of injury, inflammation can occur in the joint tissues, muscles, or connective tissues, or may be the result of a broken bone. Sprains, torn muscles, and dislocations or breaks can all be caused by a sudden trauma, such as from a fall or impact during sports. Tissues can sustain damage if they are overused or hyperextended, for example from lifting an object that is too heavy or exercising beyond one's physical ability. Jobs that require repetitive movements on a daily basis may also damage tissues in the arms, leading to inflammation that can cause pain, swelling, and numbness.