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swollen arms after working out

Posted by Dannul

Nine days ago I did a one hour intense work out on my chest and back which included a number of different push up positions and pull up positions and some dumbell work. I'm a professional dancer by trade, although I haven't worked out for about a year. Immediatly after the work out I felt very tight through the arms and chest. No pain. Next day, again, both arms and chest very swollen. Next two to three days intense pain through both arms and chest. I figured most of this was normal but the tightness in my arms was really strange. It's been 9 days now and my arms, although getting better, are still really swollen and I have a significant amount of water on my elbows.

What happened? Did I severly injure my muscles? Once muscle pain left...I had and have no pain but still the swelling. Is this normal? I've never had this experience before.


Answers (4)
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Dannul, I'm having the same problem.  I just started the P90X workout. I did the chest, shoulders, and triceps workout, unfortunately it has been a couple of years since I've really done intense workouts.  Im not sure when you posted this but if you found an answer please let me know

I also did the P90x workout and initially both my arms were so sore i could not reach my head to wash my hair.  After 3 days both were very swollen around the elbows.  Day 5 and my right arm is now swollen down to my hand...i look like popeye!  In any case, what you have is edema.  What we did is stress our heart rate out so much (i also had not worked out seriously for several years) that our micro-capillaries burst.  you start leaking fluids into your body.  As a result your kidneys start working overtime to replace that fluid and you retain water...hence the swelling.

 The way to relieve this is cut as much salt out of your diet as possible and in some cases a dihiretic is recommended to flush as much fluid out as possible.  just make sure your dont get dehydrated.  Elevate the arm, dont drink alcohol, and dont work out (which was my mistake.  i kept going through pain).  Icing it down wont hurt either.  i also know that massaging the area upwards toward the heart will speed up the process. 

Luckily my wife is a nurse and i was able to quickly recover from this.  Hope this was helpful.

I had experienced something similar to this in January of 2010. I worked out with a trainer, doing TRX cross-training, on a Saturday. The following day, my arms were really sore, but I continued to work out. The next day, Monday, my arms became swollen and red. That night I had a very hard time going to sleep due to the pain. On Tuesday, I woke up and my arms were more swollen. Furthermore, I had difficulty reaching the cubboards, washing my hair, or raising my arms.

I looked on my internet forums and was feeling confident the swelling would go down. Most posts said swelling after an intense workout is "normal". My case was anything by normal--I ended up in the ER that evening, and was admitted to the ICU for one week.

I exhibited serious health issues--my kidney's, live, and heart were in danger. I had a CPK level of 28,000; normal range is 0-61. The doctor's were puzzled and kept reiterating how crucial it was that I went to the hospital when I did. I was under close care of many specialists and I am very grateful I didn't listen to the posts telling me my swelling was "normal".

If you exhibit the any/all of the following, after a workout make sure you see a doctor: severe swelling, heat associated with swelling, redness, difficulty doing routine tasks (i.e., washing your hair, opening cabinets, reaching up-high), etc.   

I did P90X chest and back on Tuesday, and woke up in the middle of the night with excruciating pain in my arms.  On Wednesday, I couldn't straighten my arms out.  On Thursday, my arms had swollen to twice their normal size (think "Michelin Man") and were hot to the touch.  I went to a trauma specialist last night (Thursday, two days after the workout), and was given anti-inflammatory, muscle relaxers, and strong pain medicine.  Today, Friday, I am wearing a long-sleeve shirt to avoid being noticed for my still-swollen arms.  Thank you all for the tips and stories...I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one who has dealt with this (my friends have never seen anything like it). 
NOTICE: The information provided on this site is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your physician or other qualified health provider because of something you have read on Wellsphere. If you have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.
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