Forearm pain is discomfort or pain that occurs in your forearm and is one of the most commonly reported ergonomic related issues. It can occur on its own or can be present with elbow, wrist, hand and/or finger pain. Typically the pain or discomfort symptoms can only be felt when you are moving your hands or fingers. This is because many of the muscles that control your hand and finger movements are located in your forearm. Less commonly, the pain can be present even when you aren’t moving your hand or fingers.
Causes of Forearm Pain
Forearm pain can result from a number of causes. These range from degenerative conditions to injuries to underlying medical conditions that damage nerves, bones, or joints.
- Falls either striking the ulnar and radius directly or use the hands to break a fall.
- Twisting the arm beyond its normal range of motion.
- Blow to the forearm in instances of accidents or falls.
- Sharp force injury.
Overuse & Strain
- Tenosynovitis is the inflammation of the tendon sheath. It is more likely to occur in the forearm since some of the longest tendons start here and extend all the way to the finger.
- Medial epicondylalgia, or golfer’s elbow, is a relatively common overuse injury of the tendons in the forearm causing pain in the medial aspect of the elbow.
- Lateral epicondylalgia, or tennis elbow, is a relatively common overuse injury of the tendons in the forearm causing pain in the lateral aspect of the elbow.
- Osteoarthritis of the elbow is one of the possible causes of the forearm pain as well as osteoarthritis of the hand.
- Rheumatoid arthritis may be seen in the wrist and in the small joints of the fingers.
- Septic arthritis can affect any joint if microbes enter the joint space usually after an injury with a break in the skin.
- Cervical neuropathy is any disorder in the cervical spinal nerves. The more common causes are nerve root compression (pinched nerve). It can cause referred pain to the arm, forearm, hands or fingers. It is usually when C5 and C6 or C6 and C7 are affected that forearm pain may be present.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome is where the median nerve becomes compressed on its way from the forearm to the hand as a result of inflammation of the tendons running through the carpal tunnel. It mainly causes wrist, hand and finger pain with varying degrees of forearm pain at times.
- Pronator Teres Syndrome is a compression neuropathy of the median nerve at the elbow.
- Radial Tunnel Syndrome is a compression neuropathy of the posterior interosseous nerve (PIN).
- Cubital Tunnel Syndrome is a compression neuropathy of the ulnar nerve.
Blood Vessel Problems
- Peripheral embolism is where a blood clot (or any other tissue or object in the blood vessel) partially or completely obstructs the blood flow to the forearm, hand or fingers.
- Acute limb ischemia is damage to the tissue of the forearm as a result of an interruption to the blood supply.
- Narrowing of the brachial artery or its branches (radial and ulnar artery)
- Thrombophlebitis is an inflammation of the blood vessel of the forearm usually due to an infection.
- Lymphangitis is an inflammation or an infection of the lymphatic channels that occurs as a result of infection at a site distal to the channel.
For more information: Literature Review: Lateral Elbow Tendinopathy