Understanding forearm pain

Most of us spend a significant part of our day using our forearms, as this part of the body allows as us to do simple things from eating and using a keyboard, to carrying shopping. We use our forearms for nearly everything!

 

So, what is the forearm?

 

Anatomy

The forearm is made up of two long bones: the radius (thumb side) and the ulna, which come together to make the proximal (elbow) and distal radioulnar joint (wrist).

The main movement of the forearm is rotation and this allows for a movement known as supination (turning palms up) and pronation (turning palms down). This is an important movement as it allows us to twist a doorknob or use a screwdriver.

 

Muscles

The muscles in the forearm allow for the movements of supination and pronation. Many of the muscles that allow for the gripping of the hand and movement of the wrist and fingers all originate in the forearm.

The muscles in forearm can be split into two groups:

  • Flexors: Located on the front of the forearm (palm side) which assist in twisting the forearm palms facing down, as well as bending the wrist and hand downward into flexion
  • Extensors: Located on the back of the forearm which assist in twisting the forearm palms facing upwards, as well as moving the wrist and hand backwards into extension

With all the heavy use the forearm gets during daily activities, it is no wonder it can get sore! Below are some of the most common injuries of the forearm.

 

Elbow pain

At the elbow, there are small bony prominences either side called epicondyles. The epicondyles allow for attachment of the muscles that move your wrist and fingers. Trauma to the area or more commonly, repetitive overuse of the wrist and forearm muscles during gripping activities, can result in irritation of the tendon where it attaches to the epicondyles. This can present as two distinct injuries:

  • Tennis elbow or lateral Epicondylalgia: Irritation of the tendon on the outside of the elbow
  • Golfer’s elbow or medial epicondylalgia: Irritation of the tendon on the inside of the elbow

Both conditions are painful and often are accompanied by a reduction in strength of the forearm. Management can be slow as these tissues can take a while to settle down once they are irritated. It is important to seek management early. Treatment can include:

  • Identify aggravating activities to avoid ongoing irritation
  • A tailored graded exercise program to build up the tendons’ ability to tolerate load without causing an exacerbation
  • A slow return to full wrist movements and activities

 

Tenosynovitis

The synovial sheath in the forearm is a sheet of connective tissue that protects the tendons and allows for their smooth movement. An injury to the tendon or a sudden increase in tendon usage can result in irritation, causing inflammation. This results in pain and reduced function of the forearm and wrist. It is important to manage this early by:

  • Identifying aggravating activities to avoid ongoing irritation and settle symptoms
  • A tailored graded exercise program to build up the forearms ability to tolerate load without causing an exacerbation
  • A slow return to full wrist movements and activities
  • Identifying the weakness and original cause of the problem (such as poor work set up, poor technique) and address the deficits

 

Forearm pain treatment with Life Ready Physio

With expert treatment such as joint mobilisation, massage and therapeutic exercises for improved functionality, Life Ready Physio will not only alleviate forearm pain, we’ll provide you with the tools to prevent future injuries too.

For an in depth assessment by one of our skilled physiotherapists, book a consultation here.

We look forward to joining you on this journey to pain-free living.

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