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Forearm Posterior

Pain in the forearm is particularly debilitating as it can affect movements at both the wrist and the elbow. Grip strength can be compromised, as can the ability to twist your forearm into the palm up or palm down position. Everyday tasks such as lifting a kettle, turning a key in a lock, carrying shopping or using a keyboard can become challenging. Most of the muscles that enable the backward movement at the wrist, hand and fingers attach in the forearm, so it can be difficult to rest the structures that are painful as hands are needed for essential function.

After listening carefully to your symptoms a thorough physical examination will be tailored individually for you aiming to establish the source and cause of your pain. Your physiotherapist will discuss their findings and decide the appropriate treatment technique with you.

If it is appropriate your physiotherapist will refer you to the correct medical professional when, for instance, injections, scans or review by a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon or Neurologist is indicated.

Treatments may include:

  • Massage and tissue release
  • Mobilisation of joints in the elbow, forearm and wrist
  • Shoulder stability exercises
  • Exercises to mobilise compromised nerves
  • Postural retraining
  • Assessment for muscle imbalance
  • Therapeutic Ultrasound
  • Taping for proprioception and pain relief
  • All aspects of post-operative forearm, elbow and wrist surgery
  • Fracture management

Examples of conditions treated:

Radial tunnel Syndrome
The radial nerve emerges from the spinal column at the neck. It communicates with muscles that straighten your elbow and pull your wrist/hand back towards you. As it travels down your arm it wraps around and moves through various tissues. Just below the outside of the elbow in the forearm, the radial nerve enters a tunnel formed by muscle and bone. If something happens to change the space the nerve has within the tunnel (direct trauma or repetitive use of the forearm for instance) it can compress the nerve and cause pain. Symptoms are sometimes mistaken for those of tennis elbow. One difference between the two conditions is the source of pain. In tennis elbow, the pain is right on the outside bony prominence of your elbow. In radial tunnel syndrome it starts about two inches down the arm (towards your hand) from the bony prominence. (If you aren’t sure which part is the outside of your elbow,  hold your arm straight with the palm facing upwards).

Tennis elbow
The group of muscles in the forearm that bend your hand back towards you are known as the wrist extensors. Tendons are strong bands of connective tissue that attach muscle to bone. The extensor group is attached by one tendon to the outside bony prominence on your elbow (The lateral epicondyle). Repetitive action can overload the tendon and  muscles leading to tears and changes in these tissues. They become painful in response. You do not have to be a tennis player to get tennis elbow. (Causes of tennis elbow include: painting, manual work,, racquet sports, throwing sports, carrying a heavy shopping bag and any type of repetitive hand motion).