Forearm Muscle Strain

Overview

Definition

A forearm muscle strain is a partial or complete tear of the small fibers of the forearm muscles. Forearm muscles allow you to extend and flex your wrist and fingers.

Muscles of the Hand and Forearm
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Causes

A forearm muscle strain is caused by:

  • Stretching the forearm muscles beyond the amount of tension they can withstand
  • Suddenly putting stress on the forearm muscles when they are not ready for stress
  • Overusing the forearm muscles over time
  • Receiving a direct blow to the forearm muscles

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase the chance of a forearm muscle strain include:

  • Participation in sports that overuse the forearm
  • Previous strain or injury to the area
  • Muscle fatigue
  • Weak or tired muscles
  • Repetitive movements that strain the forearm muscles

SymptomsandDiagnosis

Symptoms

Symptoms may include:

  • Problems flexing the fingers or wrist
  • Pain while stretching the fingers or wrist
  • Area feels tender and sore
  • Muscle spasms
  • Swelling

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.

Most forearm muscle strains can be diagnosed with a physical exam.

Images of the area may be needed if severe damage is suspected. Images may be taken with x-ray or MRI scan .

Muscle strains are graded according to their severity:

  • Grade 1—Some stretching with micro tearing of muscle fibers.
  • Grade 2—Partial tearing of muscle fibers.
  • Grade 3—Complete tearing of muscle fibers. This may also be called a rupture or avulsion.

Treatments

Treatment

Recovery time ranges depend on the grade of your injury. Treatment options may include one or more of the following:

Supportive Care

The muscle will need time to heal. RICE is often the main part of treatment:

  • Rest—Activities will need to be restricted at first. Normal activities will be reintroduced gradually.
  • Ice—Ice therapy may help relieve swelling. Heat or cold may be advised throughout recovery if they provide benefits.
  • Compression—Used for a limited time, compression bandages can provide gentle pressure to help move fluids out of the area.
  • Elevation—Keeping the area elevated can help fluids drain out or prevent fluids from building up.

Prescription or over-the-counter medications may be advised to reduce pain.

Prevention

To help reduce the chance of a forearm muscle strain:

  • Use an ergonomic keyboard or workstation.
  • Keep muscles strong. This will help them absorb the energy of sudden, stressful activities.
  • Avoid overuse or repetitive stress.
  • Learn the proper technique for sports.
  • If you feel pain during exercise, stop exercising that muscle group.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.

a (Muscle Strain, Forearm; Pulled Muscle, Forearm)

RESOURCES

American Council on Exercise http://www.acefitness.org 

Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians  http://www.familydoctor.org 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Physiotherapy Association http://www.physiotherapy.ca 

Canadian Academy of Sports Medicine http://casem-acmse.org 

References

Dawson, WJ. Intrinsic muscle strain in the instrumentalist. Med Prol Perform Artists. 2005;20:66-69.

Derry S, Moore RA, Gaskell H, McIntyre M, Wiffen PJ. Topical NSAIDs for acute musculoskeletal pain in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev.2015;(6):CD007402.

Muscle strain (pulled muscle). Johns Hopkins Medicine website. Available at: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/orthopaedic-surgery/specialty-areas/sports-medicine/conditions-we-treat/muscle-strains.html. Accessed February 22, 2018.

Silva AG, La FM, Afreixo V. Pain prevalence in instrumental musicians: a systematic review. Med Probl Perform Art. 2015;30(1):8-19.

Sprains, strains, and tears. American College of Sports Medicine website. Available at: http://www.acsm.org/docs/brochures/sprains-strains-and-tears.pdf. Published 2011. Accessed February 22, 2018.

10/26/2010 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance  http://www.dynamed.com : Massey T, Derry S, Moore R, McQuay H. Topical NSAIDs for acute pain in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010;(6):CD007402.