About Swelling in the Arm

Swelling in your arm can be an indication of a disturbance in the blood or lymphatic flow. The swelling may appear on the forearm, hand, or fingers. It may be accompanied with other symptoms too which can be helpful in determining the underlying cause of the problem.

Swelling in the arm can either be pitting or non-pitting. As its name implies, pitting edema is when finger pressure leaves an impression on the swelling for a few seconds or minutes. It usually occurs as a result of a circulatory problem. Non-pitting edema, on the other hand, could be an indication of a more localized cause.

Possible Causes of Swelling in the Arm

There are different possible causes of swelling in your arm. It can be due to an inflammation, fat accumulation, infection, venous insufficiency, or lymphedema.


Trauma resulting from a blunt force, injury such as broken bones, and insect bites may trigger an inflammatory response on the affected site. When it’s the arm that’s being affected, it may end up being swollen.

Fat Accumulation

There are medical conditions that result to abnormal accumulation of fat in different parts of the body including the arms. These include conditions like Cushing’s syndrome and hypothyroidism.

Venous Insufficiency

Conditions such as peripheral vascular disease can disrupt the circulatory flow, leading to arm swelling.


Lymphedema is a condition that develops when there is abnormal collection of protein-filled fluid beneath the skin. The swelling usually occurs in the arm although it may also happen in the legs. Damaged lymphatic vessels and removal of the lymph nodes are the most common causes of lymphedema.

Symptoms that May Accompany the Swelling

Swelling in the arm may be accompanied by the following symptoms:

  • Pain, numbness, or tingling sensation

  • Redness or paleness of the arm

  • Muscle weakness which may cause partial or complete loss of movement of the forearm, hands, and fingers

  • Excessive warmth or cold and clammy skin

  • Itching with or without the rash

Although most cases of swelling in the arm are not life-threatening, it’s still best to seek help from a specialist especially if it’s already affecting your day-to-day life.

Image: Zdenko Zivkovi
0 Items