by Cresse M

Forearm Muscle Strain

(Muscle Strain, Forearm; Pulled Muscle, Forearm)

Definition

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
IMAGE
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes

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

Risk Factors

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

Symptoms may include:
  • Problems flexing your fingers or wrist
  • Pain while stretching the fingers or wrist
  • Area feels tender and sore
  • Muscle spasms
  • Swelling

Diagnosis

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.
Images of the area may be needed if severe damage is suspected. Images may be taken with x-ray or MRI scan .
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

Treatment

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:

Supportive Care

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.

Prevention

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.

RESOURCES

American Council on Exercise
http://www.acefitness.org
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
http://www.familydoctor.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Physiotherapy Association
http://www.physiotherapy.ca
Canadian Academy of Sports Medicine
http://casem-acmse.org

References

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%5Fstrain.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.

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