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Forearm Muscle Strain


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
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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 may include:

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


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


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.


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.

Revision Information

  • 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%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.