Forearm Muscle Strain
(Muscle Strain, Forearm; Pulled Muscle, Forearm)
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
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
- Getting a direct blow to the forearm muscles
Factors 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
- Repetitive movements that strain the forearm muscles
Symptoms may include:
- Problems flexing your fingers or wrist
- Pain while stretching the fingers or wrist
- Area feels tender and sore
- Muscle spasms
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.
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
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Recovery time ranges depending on the grade of your injury. Treatment steps may include:
Your 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 your chance of getting forearm muscle strain, take the following steps:
- 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 Council on Exercise
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
Canadian Physiotherapy Association
Canadian Academy of Sports Medicine
Dawson, WJ. Intrinsic muscle strain in the instrumentalist. Med Prol Perform Artists. 2005;20:66-69.
Johns Hopkins sports medicine patient guide to muscle strain. John Hopkins Medicine website. Available at: http://www.hopkinsortho.org/muscle_strain.html. Accessed March 10, 2015.
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 March 10, 2015.
10/26/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Massey T, Derry S, Moore R, McQuay H. Topical NSAIDs for acute pain in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010;(6):CD007402.
Last reviewed March 2015 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.