Rehabilitation & Recovery

Fix Your 8 Forearm Pain Causes And Symptoms Today

forearm pain

Pain to the forearm muscles is very common and in the majority of cases is nothing to worry about.   

Repetitive movements performed during daily activities can result in overuse injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome or tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis).  


Recommended Reading – 12 Best Forearm Exercises At Home


The components of the forearm are made up of several muscles, bones, joints, tendons, and blood vessels.  The bones of the forearm connect to the wrist joint and the elbow joint.  All these together work to allow for movement of the wrist, hand and forearm.

If you’re suffering from forearm pain, it’s important to address the symptoms by way of a physical examination so that any appropriate medical treatment can be administered.  

forearm anatomy

Forearm Pain Causes

Below are some of the most common causes of forearm pain.  In order to seek a proper diagnosis, it’s a good idea to seek medical advice. 

Repetitive Strain Injury

When performing repetitive motions and activities, this can result in strain and tension to the muscles and tendons of the forearm which may lead to pain.

Such examples include activities like typing, using a computer mouse extensively, playing musical instruments, or engaging in certain sporting activities such as tennis, golf, or racquet sports.  

tennis player striking ball

Tendinitis

Forearm tendinitis refers to inflammation of the tendons in the forearm. It can occur due to excessive stress or repetitive actions of the forearm tendons, leading to conditions such as tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) or golfer’s elbow (medial epicondylitis).  

It some instances it may be an underlying symptom of rheumatoid arthritis or gout.  Forearm tendinopathy often happens because of overuse of the wrist joint leading to pain, inflammation or tenderness.  

Muscle Strain

Certain activities including heavy weightlifting and even some non-contact sports such as tennis can place significant pressure on the area.  

In some cases, this pressure may cause a forearm or wrist sprain.  This is when the ligaments are overly stretched or torn.  

Fractures or Trauma

Sports injuries or a direct blow to the area of the forearm can result in severe pain and require immediate medical attention.

Nerve Compression

Conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome or cubital tunnel syndrome can cause forearm pain.

These conditions occur when nerves (median nerve in carpal tunnel syndrome and ulnar nerve in cubital tunnel syndrome) become compressed or irritated, leading to pain, tingling, and numbness in the forearm and hand.

Radial Tunnel Syndrome

Radial tunnel syndrome occurs when the radial nerve, which travels from the upper arm to the forearm, becomes compressed or irritated.  

This can result in pain along the outer aspect of the forearm and weakness to both the wrist and hand.

The reason for radial tunnel syndrome is often unknown but cause of the pain is sometimes associated with repetitive motions, overuse, or direct trauma to the forearm.  

Symptoms tend to be a deep ache along the top or outer side of the forearm and weakness to the area. 

Forearm Bursitis

Bursae are located throughout the large joints of the body such as the shoulders, hips, knees and elbows.  

These small fluid filled sacs act as cushions between the bones and soft tissue and help to limit friction during movement of the joints.  

Sometimes these bursae can become irritated, usually due to overuse.  When this happens the bursae can become inflamed which leads to pain, swelling and a reduced range of motion.  

Arthritis

Certain types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis, can affect the joints in the forearm, leading to pain and stiffness.  

When located to the forearm area it can cause a dull ache, throbbing or a burning sensation.  

How to Prevent Forearm Pain

There are several ways in which to help prevent forearm pain and in many cases simply involve some basic lifestyle modifications.

Below we suggest some easy ways of helping to prevent forearm pain from developing.  

Maintain Proper Ergonomics

Wrist pain using computer mouse

If you have a desk job and spend most of your day there, make sure that your workstation is set up correctly.  

Position your chair, desk, and computer monitor in a way that promotes good posture and minimizes strain on the forearms and wrists.

Take Regular Breaks 

If your work involves repetitive or prolonged forearm movements, take frequent breaks to rest your muscles and give them time to recover.  

It’s advisable to take breaks that are short and often.  

For example, a 5-to-10-minute break every hour which is taken away from your desk and screen.  

Use Proper Technique

When engaging in activities that require forearm movements, such as lifting or using tools, use proper form and technique to avoid unnecessary strain.

Warm-Up and Stretching

Before undertaking activities that may put strain on your forearms, warm up your muscles with gentle exercises and stretch the forearm muscles to improve flexibility, increase blood flow and range of motion. 

Strengthening Exercises

Aim to regularly perform exercises to strengthen the forearm muscles.

This can help improve their endurance and resilience to repetitive movements. What’s more you’ll improve grip strength and wrist stability which will make injury to the area much less likely.  

Suitable exercises include the following:

Wrist Curls 

palm up wrist curl
  1. Start by sitting on a chair with your forearms resting on the top of your legs with your palms facing up.  
  2. Hold a light dumbbell or squeeze a ball in your hand using an underhand grip.
  3. Slowly curl your wrist upward, raising the weight as high as possible.
  4. Lower it back down in a controlled manner.
  5. Complete 2 sets of 10 repetitions. 

Reverse Wrist Curls

palm down reverse wrist curls

This is essentially the opposite to the wrist curl exercise with the only difference being that your palms face down.

  1. Hold the weight with an overhand grip and curl your wrist upward slowing and with control
  2. Focuse on contracting the forearm muscles.
  3. Perform 2 sets of 10 reps. 

Towel Twists

  1. Take a small towel which has been loosely rolled up.  
  2. Holding on to either end, start to twist the towel by moving your hands in opposite directions.  
  3. Then begin to twist back in the opposite direction.  
  4. Complete 2 sets of 15 repetitions.  

Hand Grippers

Squeeze a hand gripper or grip strengthener tool, holding the squeeze for a few seconds before releasing.

Repeat for multiple repetitions.

You can adjust the resistance level of the gripper based on your strength.  

Some hand grippers are adjustable so as your forearm muscles and grip strength improve you can progress by increasing the resistance.  

How to Treat Forearm Pain

The specific treatment of forearm pain will depend on the underlying cause and the severity.

Before commencing with any form of treatment it’s a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional so they can provide a proper diagnosis.  

Below are some treatment options that may help to alleviate pain to the forearm.  

Rest and Activity Modification

If you experience forearm pain, give the affected muscles time to rest and avoid activities that aggravate the pain.  

You should also look to modify your activities to help reduce strain on the forearms.

Ice or Heat Therapy

Applying an ice pack or warm compress to the affected arm can help alleviate pain and reduce inflammation.  

You could try and alternate between cold and heat therapy as needed.

Pain Management

Some over-the-counter pain medications and anti-inflammatory medications can help to reduce pain and inflammation.  

However, this should only be a short-term solution and if pain persists you should seek the advice of a medical professional.  

Stretching and Flexibility Exercises

By taking the time to perform some gentle stretching exercises for the forearm muscles this can help to improve flexibility and relieve muscle tension.  

Below are some suggested stretches you can incorporate into your day.

Wrist Flexor Stretch

Wrist Flexor Stretch
  1. Extend one arm out in front of you with a slight bend to your elbow and keep your palm facing up.
  2. Use your other hand to gently and slowly pull back on your fingers.  
  3. You should feel a gentle stretch in the inner part of your forearm.  
  4. Hold the stretch for around 20-30 seconds and repeat on the other arm. 

Wrist Extensor Stretch

wrist extensor stretching exercise
  1. Position one arm out in front and this time keep your palm facing down.
  2. Using your free hand, apply gentle pressure and carefully pull the back fingers of your hand toward your body, stretching the muscles on the top side of your forearm.
  3. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds and repeat on the other arm. 

Prayer Stretch  

prayer wrist stretching exercises
  1. Start by bringing your palms together just in front of your chest.  
  2. Keeping your palms pressed together, slowly begin to lower your hands toward your waist.
  3. You should feel a stretch in your wrists and forearms.  
  4. Maintain this position for around 30 seconds and repeat 3 times.

Wrist Circles

  1. Extend your arms straight out in front of you with your palms facing down.
  2. From here, slowly rotate your hands moving clockwise and then counterclockwise.  
  3. Perform 10 circles in each direction to gently mobilize and warm up the forearm muscles.

Massage and Myofascial release

Use massage techniques or self-myofascial release tools, such as foam rollers or massage balls, to release tension and help to promote muscle relaxation in the forearms.  

You could even try muscle scraping to the forearm muscles which can help to break down scar tissue and alleviate tight muscles.  

Physical therapy

wrist physical therapy

If forearm pain is persistent and at home remedies only provide temporary relief, you should consult with a physical therapist or occupational therapist.  

They will be able to provide targeted exercises, manual therapy, and other suitable treatments to address the underlying cause of the forearm pain. 

They can also factor in any underlying medical conditions.  In the most severe cases and depending on the cause, surgical treatment may be an option.  

​Before You Leave…

Now that we’ve gone into detail about the potential causes of forearm pain and suitable ways to treat any discomfort it’s important to remember that keeping the muscles and joints strong and mobile will help to prevent the development of pain in the future.  

Many people forget to focus on working these muscles as it can often be seen that as they’re small they don’t matter to much. 

However, nothing could be further from the truth.  

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