Forearm pain can be due to several causes, such as:
The pain can be highly disruptive to daily life because the forearm needs to be moved repeatedly while performing daily tasks.
The forearm is a part of the upper limb present between the elbow and wrist.
- The two long bones radius and the ulna constitute the skeletal framework of the forearm.
- It contains an anterior group of muscles that work to flex the wrist and fingers and a posterior group of muscles that work to extend the wrist and fingers.
- The three primary nerves are called the radial, median, and ulnar nerve, and the two principal arteries are called the radial and ulnar arteries that run through the forearm.
6 other symptoms that occur along with forearm pain
Forearm pain may accompany other symptoms, including:
- Muscle weakness
- Redness, warmth, or swelling
- Reduced range of motion of a joint
- Shoulder, arm, hand, or finger pain
- Visible deformity of the elbow or wrist
10 causes of forearm pain
- Musculoskeletal causes: Involves issues in the way the components of the forearm work together. Thus, constant low-degree stress over a long period, such as hand movement while playing tennis, poor positioning of arms at the worktable, leaving the elbow unsupported while working on laptops, age-induced muscle weakness, or even sleeping on the affected arm may trigger forearm pain.
- Positional: Repetitive actions, such as lifting weights without warm-ups at gyms, typing, using crutches, and even walking the dog can compress the nerves and blood vessels that branch throughout the forearm and may result in bilateral forearm swelling and result in injury to the components of the forearm.
- Fracture: Direct injury to the forearm due to a car accident, traumatic fall, or direct blow can result in broken bones, as well as swelling and pain in the forearm. These causes may result in visible deformity and bleeding depending on the severity of the injury.
- Sprain: Twisting or stretching a ligament or tendon is called a sprain. Activities that result in bending, twisting, direct impact, or sudden movement can sprain the multiple ligaments of the forearm.
- Stress: Stress associated with many activities of daily living, such as dressing, holding objects, and typing, can manifest itself in different parts of the body, including the forearm.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome: Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by the compression of the median nerve as a result of overuse of the wrist and hand, especially highly repetitive activities, such as typing or working, resulting in pain, numbness, and tingling in the hand and forearm.
- Arthritis: Arthritis causes the protective cartilage covering the joints to wear down, resulting in bone rubbing against bone and a dull ache in the forearm.
- An underlying medical condition: Certain conditions, such as a heart attack, can cause pain in the forearm along with other symptoms, such as chest pain, jaw pain, and sweating. An autoimmune condition may cause nonspecific muscle swelling and result in forearm pain.
- Psychological causes: Stress, anxiety, and panic attacks may cause unintentional muscle tension, which manifests as pain.
- Procedures: A needle prick while blood collection or an infusion set left too long may cause pain in the forearm.
6 remedies that help reduce forearm pain
Treatment of forearm pain depends on the type, location, and cause of the pain. Remedies to ease forearm pain can be easily done before consulting a health professional.
- Resting the forearm can help reduce the degree of inflammation
- Icing the affected area with a cloth-covered ice pack for 10 to 15 minutes at a time may help reduce swelling
- Taking pain-relieving medication, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can help alleviate pain in both forearms
- Splint or bandage that limits mobility while the injury is healing
- Stretching exercises or a physical therapy or rehabilitation program can help restore range of motion, strength, and stability to the forearm, hand, and fingers; this is called active and passive physiotherapy
- Ultrasonic therapy may help reduce muscle swelling
As the forearm pain improves, a few simple exercises can rehabilitate the arm and resume normal activities.
- Tennis ball squeeze
- Arm rotations
- Wrist flexion and extension
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Moradi A, Ebrahimzadeh MH, Ring D. Nonspecific arm pain. Arch Bone Jt Surg. 2013;1(2):53-58. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4151410/
Felsenthal G, Mondell DL, Reischer MA, Mack RH. Forearm pain secondary to compression syndrome of the lateral cutaneous nerve of the forearm. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 1984 Mar;65(3):139-41. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/6608339/
Tidy C. Forearm Injuries and Fractures. Egton Medical Information Systems. https://patient.info/bones-joints-muscles/forearm-injuries-and-fractures-leaflet
Palmer KT. Regional musculoskeletal conditions: pain in the forearm, wrist and hand. Best Pract Res Clin Rheumatol. 2003 Feb;17(1):113-35. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12659824/
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