Forearm Muscle Strain
(Muscle Strain, Forearm; Pulled Muscle, Forearm)
DefinitionA 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.It is a common injury in sports. It is also common in people who work in jobs with repetitive keyboard motions. Treatment depends on the severity of the strain.
|Muscles of the Hand and Forearm|
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CausesA 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
- Getting a direct blow to the forearm muscles
Risk FactorsFactors increase your chance of developing forearm muscle strain include:
- Participation in sports that overuse the forearm
- Previous strain or injury to the area
- Muscle fatigue
- Weak or tired muscles
- A job that requires repetitive movements that strain the forearm muscles
SymptomsSymptoms may include:
- Problems flexing your fingers or wrist
- Pain while stretching the fingers or wrist
- Area feels tender and sore
- Muscle spasms
DiagnosisThe doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.Most forearm muscle strains can be diagnosed with a physical exam. Your doctor may want images of the area if severe damage is suspected. Images may be taken with x-ray or MRI . 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.
TreatmentTalk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Recovery time ranges depending on the grade of your injury. Treatment steps may include:
Acute CareRestYour muscle will need time to heal. Avoid activities that place extra stress on these muscles:
- Do not do activities that cause pain.
- Do not play sports until your doctor has said it is safe to do so.
- Over-the-counter medication, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen
- Topical pain medication—creams or patches that are applied to the skin
- Prescription pain relievers
Recovery StepsHeatUse heat only when you are returning to physical activity. Heat may then be used before stretching or getting ready to play sports to help loosen the muscle.StretchingWhen the acute pain is gone, start gentle stretching as recommended. Stay within pain limits. Hold each stretch for about 10 seconds and repeat six times. Stretch several times a day.StrengtheningBegin strengthening exercises for your muscles as recommended. If you are diagnosed with a forearm muscle strain, follow your doctor's instructions .
PreventionTo help reduce your chance of getting forearm muscle strain, take the following steps:
- At work, use an ergonomic keyboard or workstation.
- Keep muscles strong. This will help them absorb the energy of sudden stressful activities.
- Avoid over exercising.
- Learn the proper technique for sports.
- If you are feeling tired, stop exercising.
American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor
American Council on Exercise
Canadian Physiotherapy Association
Canadian Academy of Sports Medicine
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Johns Hopkins sports medicine patient guide to muscle strain. John Hopkins Medicine website. Available at: http://www.hopkinsortho.org/muscle%5Fstrain.html. Accessed April 26, 2013.
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What is Occupational Therapy? American Occupational Therapy Association website. Available at: http://aota.org/Consumers.aspx. Accessed April 26, 2013.
10/26/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php: Massey T, Derry S, Moore R, McQuay H. Topical NSAIDs for acute pain in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010;(6):CD007402.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 02/2014
- Update Date: 03/18/2013