Dealing with muscle pain in your forearm? Check out these 6 possible causes

  • Post category:Arm Pain
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You are currently viewing Dealing with muscle pain in your forearm? Check out these 6 possible causes
Asian woman physiotherapist oversees the patient’s exercise.

When your arm is in pain, it can make many little movements throughout the day difficult. You can feel an ache moving a box out of your closet or washing dishes. Your forearm, in particular, is responsible for the movement of your wrists and fingers. So when your forearm muscle is in pain, it can affect your entire arm, down to your fingertips.


It can be tempting to just brush off pain in the forearm muscle as no big deal, and wait for it to go away on its own. But by being proactive, you can reduce the negative impact it has on your everyday life. And by learning about the possible causes of pain in your forearm muscle, you can determine the best ways to treat it.


We’ll talk about potential reasons for muscle pain in your forearm. Then we’ll discuss how to deal with it on your own as well as how an occupational therapist can help.


6 potential causes of muscle pain in the forearm


Your forearm is the part of the arm that’s located from the wrist to the elbow. It’s made up of two bones, the radius and the ulna, as well as several muscles. 


There are many reasons why your forearm muscles may be in pain. While some reasons can cause temporary pain due to mild issues, others have forearm muscle pain as a symptom of an injury or muscle condition.


Here are six possible reasons for forearm muscle pain:

  • Strains — When you strain your forearm muscle, also known as “pulling” a muscle, it means that it has become overstretched or torn. A muscle strain can occur if you’re in an accident, if you’re overusing it due to repetitive arm movements, or if it’s being used incorrectly. Straining the muscle causes forearm pain as well as muscle spasms and reduced mobility.

  • Golfer’s elbow — Medial epicondylitis, commonly known as golfer’s elbow, is a type of tendinitis that affects the tendons that connect the forearm to the inside of the elbow. It’s a repetitive strain injury, meaning that it’s caused by repetitive or excessive movements, particularly forceful wrist and hand movements, such as swinging a golf club or pitching a baseball. It causes pain as well as numbness in the fingers and weakness in the wrists.

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome — You have a median nerve that runs from your forearm through the carpal tunnel, which is a passageway in your wrist that leads to your hand. When there’s pressure on the nerve, it can become compressed and cause pain in your forearm, as well as your hand and wrist. It’s another repetitive strain injury, often caused by frequent hand and wrist movements.

  • Arthritis — There are many types of arthritis that can develop throughout the arm, but rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in the elbow is commonly associated with forearm pain. It can develop if your immune system attacks your joint lining. Along with forearm pain, RA in the elbow can also cause stiffness and swelling.

  • Fractures — Blunt force from an object or falling with an outstretched arm can cause a fracture in one of your forearm bones. Along with immediate pain, a fractured forearm can cause numbness down through your hand as well as excessive swelling.

  • Cervical radiculopathy — When you have a nerve problem in your neck, known as the cervical spine, you can feel the effects down your arm, including the forearm. A pinched or irritated nerve in the neck can cause radiating pain as well as numbness or tingling.


How to ease forearm muscle pain at home


When you feel an ache in your forearm, it can make you want to lie down and not move again until the pain goes away. But, unfortunately, life doesn’t stop when you’re in pain. That’s why it’s important to see how you can reduce the pain on your own.


These self-care options can provide you with temporary pain relief to help get you through the day or between visits with a provider. If you feel like your forearm pain is consistent or worsening, you should book an appointment with your health care provider.


Here are a few home remedies to temporarily alleviate forearm muscle pain, though you may still need to consult with your physician or an occupational therapist:


  • Rest — Similar to most cases of extremity pain, especially those caused by trauma or falling, rest is essential. By resting your arm regularly throughout the day, you can reduce the strain that can contribute to your forearm pain.


  • Ice — Applying ice or a cold pack is a tried-and-true method for temporary pain relief, and for good reason. By putting ice on your forearm, you’re numbing the area by slowing down blood circulation to reduce the pain as well as potential swelling.


  • NSAIDs — Ask your health care provider about taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for temporary pain relief. When it comes to muscle pain, they will likely recommend over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen or naproxen.


Occupational therapy treatments that can alleviate forearm muscle pain


While home remedies can come in handy at the moment, it’s important to address the underlying cause of your forearm pain with safe and effective treatments. Occupational therapy should be one of the first courses of action if you feel like your forearm muscle pain isn’t going away anytime soon or when it interferes with your overall quality of life.


Here are a few occupational therapy treatments that can help alleviate your forearm pain and stiffness:


  • Evaluation — With so many possible reasons behind your forearm muscle pain, a proper evaluation is required to make sure that the safest and most effective options are included in your treatment plan for your particular injury or condition. During your first appointment, you’ll have an evaluation of your symptoms and capabilities so that your occupational therapist can determine the likely cause.


  • Therapeutic exercises — Nearly every cause of forearm pain can benefit from guided exercises and stretches. An occupational therapist will show you arm exercises to alleviate the ache and improve the strength of the muscle to reduce the risk of future injury. You’ll also learn stretches to reduce stiffness and improve mobility.


  • Manual therapy — If your occupational therapist determines that you likely have a muscle strain or inflammation, then hands-on treatment can make a big difference. They can use their hands for joint and soft tissue mobilization as a way to alleviate tense tissue causing forearm pain and stiffness. 


  • Dry needling — If you’re experiencing muscle spasms in your arm, then your occupational therapist may try to tackle the root cause with dry needling. This technique involves thin filament needles that stimulate muscle contractions as a way to release the tension.  


Excel Rehab & Sports can help you figure out the cause of forearm muscle pain 


One of the most frustrating parts about feeling random aches and pains in your body is that you don’t always know the cause. Without knowing the reason for your forearm pain, it can be difficult to properly treat your condition and return to your regular tasks.


At Excel Rehab & Sports, our occupational therapists use their expertise and understanding of the body to figure out the root cause of your muscle pain. Not only can our treatment alleviate your current symptoms, but together we can work to improve the strength, flexibility and overall function of the area to reduce the possibility of the pain recurring in the future.


Call us or request an appointment today to pinpoint the possible reason for your forearm muscle pain as well as treat it with safe and effective occupational therapy techniques.