Young man holding his sore arm after exercising.

Muscle & Joint

Joint pain can affect just one joint or many, and can be caused by arthritis, injury, overuse, or bursitis (an inflammation or irritation of the bursa, a fluid-filled sac that acts like a grease to reduce friction), and many different illnesses and conditions. Most commonly, osteoarthritis affects the knees, hips, spine and hands.

Two men lifting a couch.

Common causes of arm pain

The most common causes of arm pain are often nothing more than a simple strain or a trapped nerve.64 But there are other causes such as:

Tennis elbow or golfer's elbow

This common condition causes pain and discomfort in the elbow. The clinical name for this kind of elbow pain is lateral epicondylitis, and it usually happens if muscles and tendons of the forearm near the elbow joint have been involved in rigorous sporting activity. It can also be caused by lifting a heavy object.65

Woman playing tennis.
Man holding his hurt elbow.


Bursitis is inflammation and swelling of a bursa. To put it simply, a bursa is a fluid-filled sac which forms under the skin, usually over the joints. Its job is to act as a cushion between the tendons and bones but it can cause pain and tenderness if it becomes inflamed. Bursitis of the shoulder is a common complaint among those who take part in heavy physical exercise.66

Repetitive strain injury (RSI)

RSI is a general term used to describe the pain felt in muscles, nerves and tendons caused by repetitive movement and overuse. People who use a computer on a daily basis can often experience muscle pain.68

An athlete sitting on the floor.

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