Why does your arm hurt after measuring blood pressure?

Why does your arm hurt after measuring blood pressure?

It’s normal to feel temporary pain in your arm after blood pressure measurement because of the pressure exerted by the cuff on your arm. This step is mandatory because the blood circulation in your arm has to be disrupted for a few seconds to measure your blood pressure. 

This is done by exerting pressure through a cuff, which can put pressure on your nerves and trigger the sensation of pain and tightness around your arm. This sensation shouldn’t last, as it begins to fade away soon after the cuff is removed. 

What to do if your arm pain persists? 

Although it is not common to have lingering arm pain after a BP check, it could still occur if your blood pressure is checked frequently and the same arm is used over and over again. 

Studies have reported such cases where prolonged pressure on the arm can damage the radial nerve, which in turn triggers pain (1). If you suffer from such arm pain, talk to your healthcare provider and get yourself completely checked. 

Meanwhile, I would recommend not using the same arm for BP measurement and switching arms frequently. You can also try a warm compress at the site of pain to get some relief. 

How to measure blood pressure properly?

To measure your blood pressure properly and avoid any potential harm to your arm, follow these simple steps (2,3):

  • Sit comfortably: Find a quiet place to sit and relax for a few minutes before measuring your blood pressure. Sit with your back supported and feet flat on the floor.
  • Position your arm: Rest your arm on a flat surface, such as a table, at heart level. Make sure your arm is fully supported and relaxed, with the palm facing upward.
  • Apply the cuff: Place the blood pressure cuff on your upper arm, just above the elbow. The cuff should be snug but not too tight. Follow the instructions provided with your blood pressure monitor for proper placement.
  • Take multiple readings: It’s recommended to take multiple readings to ensure accuracy. Wait for a few minutes between readings to allow your blood vessels to relax.
  • Follow the monitor’s instructions: Start the blood pressure monitor and wait for it to inflate and deflate automatically. Remain still and avoid talking or moving your arm during the measurement.
  • Record the results: Note down the readings, including the systolic pressure (top number) and diastolic pressure (bottom number). Repeat the measurement at different times of the day to get a better understanding of your blood pressure patterns.

Remember, it’s essential to use a reliable and properly calibrated blood pressure monitor. If you have any concerns or questions, consult with your healthcare provider for guidance on measuring your blood pressure accurately and safely – without harming yourself or someone else.

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Lin CC, Jawan B, de Villa MV, Chen FC, Liu PP. Blood pressure cuff compression injury of the radial nerve. J Clin Anesth. 2001 Jun;13(4):306-8. doi: 10.1016/s0952-8180(01)00262-8. PMID: 11435057. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11435057/


Rehman S, Hashmi MF, Nelson VL. Blood Pressure Measurement. 2022 Dec 28. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan–. PMID: 29489154. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482189


Weinfeld JM, Hart KM, Vargas JD. Home Blood Pressure Monitoring. Am Fam Physician. 2021 Sep 1;104(3):237-243. Erratum in: Am Fam Physician. 2022 Feb 1;105(2):115. PMID: 34523884. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34523884/