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.
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
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
Symptoms may include:
- Problems flexing the fingers or wrist
- Pain while stretching the fingers or wrist
- Area feels tender and sore
- Muscle spasms
The doctor will ask about symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Most forearm muscle strains can be diagnosed with a physical exam.
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.
Recovery time ranges depend on the grade of your injury. Treatment options may include one or more of the following:
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.
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.
- Reviewer: James Cornell, MD
- Review Date: 03/2016 -
- Update Date: 03/18/2013 -