Your forearms are active in a wide variety of common arm and hand movements that you perform daily.
This is because the bones forming the structure of the forearm, the radius, and the ulna bones, extend throughout the forearm length and join at the wrist.
For this reason, according to experts at the Cleveland Clinic, any injury, stress or discomfort of the radius or ulna can interfere with the flexibility and mobility of your forearm.
Although such injury or discomfort may be considered a mild problem medically, it can make it difficult or painful for you to perform simple tasks like gripping a handrail or typing on your computer keyboard.
Forearm pain may be caused by numerous different causes, and each cause needs treatment by a different method or approach.
Your forearm connects to both your wrist and elbow, constantly interacting with muscle and joint activity in both these areas.
Muscle, tendon and joint strains, injuries and general stress to the wrist or the elbow can cause or contribute to forearm pain.
The majority of forearm pain occurrences can be overcome with rest, relaxation and appropriate arm exercises.
The ulna bone of your forearm is larger and longer than the radius bone and is located on the medial side of the forearm (aligned with your pinky, or smallest finger).
The ulna and the humerus bone join together to form the hinge of your elbow joint. The lower end of the ulna joins with the radius bone and the carpals to from your wrist joint.
The radius bone of your forearm is somewhat thinner and shorter than the ulna. Located on the medial side of the lower arm, the radius narrows at the elbow joint and becomes wider as it extends to the wrist.
Its rounded top end creates the pivoting area of the elbow joint, enabling good rotation of the forearm and hand, and its lower end makes up most of the flexible wrist joint as it connects with the ulna and carpals.
Hand Injuries and Disorders Can Cause Forearm Pain
Although the hands are small in comparison to other areas of your body, the structure of each hand is composed of 27 very small bones and numerous joints.
Any injuries or disorders of this intricate network of bones and joints can cause pain in your forearm as well as the affected hand.
The three major groups of hand bones that move in conjunction with your forearm movements include the following:
These eight bones form a group of cube-like bones and join with the ulna and radius forearm bones to form the wrist joint.
They also create other joints by connecting with the metacarpal bones located in the palm of your hand.
In addition, these carpals join with one another to create multiple very small joints with gliding mobility, promoting greater flexibility of both hand and wrist.
These are five long bones with a cylindrical shape that strengthen and support the palm of your hand. They each join with both the carpals and each digit’s proximal phalanx bone to form a joint.
Your metacarpals can spread your fingers apart through abduction and draw your fingers and palm back together with adduction, and they help your hand grip objects firmly.
The phalanges are a group composed of 14 bones that strengthen and move the digits of your hands.
Each of your four fingers contains three phalanges, known as proximal, middle and distal. Your thumb, however, has only a proximal and a distal phalanx bone.
These long bones create hinging joints and oval (condyloid) joints with the metacarpal bones, enabling such movements of the digits as extension, flexion, abduction, and adduction.
As you can see, the bones of your forearms form important connections with your elbow joints, wrist joints, and bones of your hands.
They also interact with all the muscles of your entire arm and hand. As a result, any injuries, strains or disorders of any part of your hand, wrist, elbow and even areas of your upper arms can cause forearm pain and distress or lack of mobility.
Your forearms must support your hands constantly for excellent dexterity and enduring strength to perform all the lifting, stretching and complex movements required in daily life.
Whether you play sports, exercise regularly at the gym or play a musical instrument, you depend on the strength and agility of your lower arms, wrists, and hands.
If you spend your days or evenings working on your computer keyboard, you also need plenty of strength and agility in your hands and forearms.
Common Causes of That Nagging or Acute Forearm Pain Can Be Identified
As explained by Brian D. Adams, MD, if you are experiencing forearm pain, it may be the result of injury, arthritis or nerve entrapment.
Your forearm has superficial and immediate as well as deep muscles, all of which are joined by ligaments and tendons.
Any damage, stress or overuse of any one of these can result in steady and nagging or acute, shooting pains throughout your lower arm.
The most common causes of forearm pain today include the following conditions:
If you fall on a hard surface or injure your lower arm while playing tennis, baseball or when cleaning out your basement, your forearm may suffer serious trauma.
This can result in a fracture of your ulna or radius bone or injured muscles, tendons and ligaments.
Long hours spent working on your computer can also cause repetitive strain injury (RSI), which is now common in the workplace.
If you engage in intensive gym workouts, bodybuilding or weightlifting, overuse of forearm muscles can cause painful stress and strain of muscles and ligaments or tendons. Tennis elbow is a stress-related elbow injury that can also cause forearm pain.
If nerves in your lower arm are compressed due to stress caused by overuse or to injury, you may feel numbness, a tingling sensation or pain. Symptoms of nerve entrapment usually manifest as sharp, shooting pains in your forearm.
If arthritis develops in your wrist or elbow or the many small joints of your hand, you may experience a repetitive dull aching in your forearm.
Existing Medical Conditions
If you have current or chronic medical conditions like angina or disorders of the central nervous system, you may have frequent pains in your lower arms.
Early Forearm Pain Diagnosis Supports Healing Treatment and Cure
Many cases of forearm pain today are diagnosed by a medical doctor, other qualified health professional or holistic practitioner as stress from overuse, muscle and tendon damage or nerve entrapment.
The affected patient can normally treat him or herself at home. Suggested home treatments to help eliminate these types of lower arm pain include the following:
Rest and Relaxation
By decreasing activities and tasks that require the use of your forearm, you can initiate good recovery of a muscle, bone, tendon, ligament or nerve that has been injured.
Periods of rest and relaxation should be alternated with times for mild to moderate activity to maintain muscular flexibility.
If your injury resulted from sports or regular gym workouts, you should refrain from athletics until healed.
Taking anti-inflammatory medications like Ibuprofen can be helpful in managing pain while your forearm muscle strain or injury heals.
If movement causes extreme pain or discomfort, you may need to see your physician or physical therapist for a splint or sling to help limit your arm movements.
Hot or Cold Therapeutic Applications
Forearm inflammation and pain can often be reduced by applying an ice pack. After swelling has decreased in the painful area of your arm, heat therapy may also be helpful for reducing lingering pain.
Exercises and Stretches
According to Richard Foxx, MD, Exercises and stretches approved by your physician, physical therapist or qualified natural health practitioner can be quite helpful in reducing pain.
If done with supervision, these movements structured to rehabilitate your lower arm can improve your condition considerably.
If these recommended home treatments are not effective in treating forearm pain, stronger anti-inflammatory medications may be needed to control and eliminate the pain.
In more severe cases of injury, especially when the arm pain is diagnosed as resulting from trapped nerves or serious injury, surgery may be necessary. Your physician or other healthcare professional can advise you best.
RSI Leads the List of Forearm Pain
RSI Is a Frequent and Persistent Cause of Forearm Pain Today
Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) can afflict most all movable parts of your body. This condition is caused by forceful and repetitive lifting, excessive exertion or stretching, vibrating equipment use, mechanical compression or cramped and awkward body postures and positions, as discussed by Vincent N. Disabella, DO, FAOASM President, Sports Medicine of Delaware, Inc You may have heard RSI referred to as repetitive motion injury, repetitive motion disorder (RMD), occupational overuse syndrome or cumulative trauma disorder (CTD).
Common symptoms of RSI include pain, discomfort or throbbing of the body area affected.
Patients may also experience tingling sensations in the arm or hand or lack of any noticeable sensation as well as decreased strength.
The symptoms and their degree of severity differ according to the part of your body that is affected.
Overuse of certain muscle groups that are required for performing repetitive work tasks like lifting heavy boxes or for painting a large ceiling can cause ongoing pain.
The logical way to alleviate or stop this work-related pain and discomfort is to slow down or shorten the duration of work periods.
However, if neither of these options can be observed, the risk of pain development leading to RSI can be lessened by the use of the following tips:
Take Short Breaks Often
If you take frequent, but short breaks from strenuous, repetitive tasks that require overuse of certain muscles, tendons, and joints, the stressed area or areas of your body can rest and recuperate somewhat between stressful work sessions.
Stop Activity and Stretch
As demonstrated in this video by Physiotherapist, Kallum Ireland, by stopping your work briefly and stretching your back and limbs, you can often prevent the onset of serious or chronic pain.
Watching this video is essential for learning the exact manner in which all stretches should be performed.
Observe Ergonomics in the Office
You may have an office job in which you sit and work on a computer keyboard for most of the day. If so, make sure your desk, chair, and computer screen are positioned for ergonomic alignment to avoid muscularly and eye stress and strain.
Accurate Diagnosis of RSI Means Faster and Better Treatment and Recovery
Your physician will most likely be able to accurately determine and diagnose the type of RSI you have after a physical examination.
He or she will also question you regarding any repetitive work, home tasks or sports activity you may be engaged in.
There are two main types of RSI, which are:
RSI – Type 1
This form of RSI is a disorder of the musculoskeletal system. Its common symptoms are inflammation and swelling of certain tendons and muscles.
RSI – Type 2
This form of RSI can have varied causes. Frequently, it is connected to nerve damage that occurred during stressful or repetitive work or sports activities.
Because its only signs, in general, are overall discomfort or pain in certain areas of the body, Type 2 RSI is often called non-specific pain syndrome.
Multiple Medical Conditions are Linked to RSI and Respond to Treatment
There are numerous medical conditions with connections to RSI that respond to modern treatments, such as the following:
Bursitis – This condition causes the sac of fluid close to the knee, elbow or shoulder joint to swell and become inflamed.
Tendonitis – With the onset of this condition, a tendon suffers inflammation.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – Medical experts at the Mayo Clinic report that this painful condition results from nerve compression in the frontal wrist area.
Lateral Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow) – In this valuable video, Dr. DeFabio reveals how to treat this condition without surgery or drugs.
This condition results from the stress of the elbow joint and forearm in sports like tennis and use of sledgehammers and other heavy tools. It can cause serious pain in the elbow and forearm.
Intersection Syndrome – This muscle inflammation in the forearm can be quite painful.
It is the result of repetitive flexing and extension of the wrist. People who engage in sports like weightlifting, skiing, racket ball and rowing frequently develop this syndrome.
RSI Treatment Methods Vary to Address Each Specific Symptom or Cause
Since the causes, as well as the symptoms of RSI, are many and varied, there are numerous treatment methods, including the following:
Often, doctors prescribe muscle relaxants and painkillers that are anti-inflammatory agents, like Ibuprofen or Aspirin.
In some instances, antidepressants may be needed as well. For patients who experience interrupted sleep patterns, sleeping pills may be helpful.
Hot or Cold Applications
Heat or ice packs can be useful in alleviating pain from RSI, but neither hot nor cold compresses should be applied directly to your arm, as this could result in skin burns.
For some people with RSI pain and discomfort, a splint or elastic bandage support can be of help during treatment.
During therapy sessions, RSI patients perform exercises, and physical therapists use manual therapy techniques to help reduce and control forearm pain. Splints or braces may also be used.
Patients receive advice and guidance in avoiding overuse of arms that could make their symptoms more acuter.
If prescribed to control inflammation due to another medical issue, steroids should be used with caution due to possible adverse side effects.
As a last resort, surgery may be performed to alleviate painful issues concerning nerves and tendons.
There Are Varied and Successful Treatments to Cure Foreman Pain Today
According to Neurologist, A. Srivastava, MD, there are varied types of forearm pain that may manifest as sore, aching sensations or sharp, shooting pains.
These pains may last indefinitely and if left untreated, may result in more lasting damage to joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
Fortunately, there are medical and therapeutic methods of treating, alleviating and even eliminating these painful and sometimes debilitating conditions affecting the forearm.
If you develop forearm pain that lasts more than a couple of days, you should seek the advice and care of a medical doctor or qualified natural health practitioner.
These experienced healthcare professionals can diagnose your condition and provide treatment or refer you to an expert physical therapist or pain treatment specialist to return your lower arm to its normal, high functioning state.