What is forearm pain?
Forearm pain refers to any type of pain or discomfort of the arm between the wrist and the elbow. Pain in the forearm can arise from injury or inflammation that affects any of the tissues of the forearm, including the muscles, bones, blood vessels, tendons, and skin. Forearm pain can happen to anyone and is often related to a traumatic or repetitive use injury.
Treatment for forearm pain depends on the cause of the pain. Mild forearm pain may go away with rest, home remedies, such as cold compresses, or over-the-counter pain medications. In more serious cases, forearm pain may require medical treatment, such as prescription medication, surgery, or physical therapy.
Causes of forearm pain frequently include sports injuries, overuse injuries, fractures, pinched nerves, or accidents. Forearm pain may also be related to a general infection, such as the common cold, that causes body aches, or to an infection of the tissues of the forearm itself. In rare cases, forearm pain may be linked to a benign growth, such as a cyst, or even a malignant tumor.
Recovery from forearm pain depends on the type, location and cause of the pain. In general, forearm pain can be treated effectively.
Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you have forearm pain linked to a severe fracture, such as a bone protruding from the skin, or if your forearm pain accompanied by severe bleeding, paralysis, or numbness.
If your forearm pain is persistent or causes you concern, seek prompt medical care.
What other symptoms might occur with forearm pain?
Forearm pain may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition.
Musculoskeletal symptoms that may occur along with forearm pain
Forearm pain may accompany other symptoms affecting the muscles, bones, tendons and cartilage including:
- Muscle weakness
- Redness, warmth or swelling
- Reduced mobility (range of motion of a joint)
- Shoulder, arm, hand or finger pain
- Visible deformity of the elbow or wrist
Other symptoms that may occur along with forearm pain
Forearm pain may accompany other symptoms including:
- Cuts or lacerations
- Itchy skin
- Numbness or tingling in arms
- Skin discoloration such as bruising
Symptoms that might indicate a serious condition
In some cases, forearm pain may occur with other symptoms that might indicate a serious condition that should be evaluated immediately in an emergency setting. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have forearm pain along with other serious symptoms including:
- Bone that sticks out of the skin
- Excessive bleeding
- Sudden, intense pain in the forearm
What causes forearm pain?
Forearm pain is caused by damage to the muscles, tendons, bones, or other tissues that make up the forearm. Forearm pain is usually the result of injury, such as a sports injury, or inflammation. Forearm pain may also be related to an infection, a growth, a nerve problem, or even cancer.
Common causes of forearm pain
Forearm pain may be caused by an injury to, or inflammation of, the forearm including:
Other causes of forearm pain
Forearm pain can also be caused by a variety of other conditions including:
- Benign tumor
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Cyst (benign sac that contains fluid, air, or other materials)
- Fibromyalgia (chronic condition that causes pain, stiffness and tenderness)
- Infections or abscess of the skin or soft tissues
- Nerve entrapment or compression, such as of the ulnar nerve in the arm
Serious or life-threatening causes of forearm pain
In some cases, forearm pain may be a symptom of a serious or life-threatening condition that should be evaluated immediately in an emergency setting. These include:
- Malignant (cancerous) tumor
- Serious fracture, such as with a broken bone protruding from the skin
Questions for diagnosing the cause of forearm pain
To diagnose your condition, your doctor or licensed health care practitioner will ask you several questions related to your forearm pain including:
- How long have you felt pain in your forearm?
- Do you have any other symptoms?
- Do you use your forearm frequently in daily activities, such as lifting?
- Have you had a recent injury?
- What makes your forearm pain feel better or worse?
Forearm pain may simply go away with time. It may also respond to home remedies, such as cold compresses, or over-the-counter medications. In serious cases, however, forearm pain may require treatments, such as physical therapy and surgery. Because forearm pain can be due to serious diseases, failure to seek treatment can result in serious complications and permanent damage. Once the underlying cause is diagnosed, it is important for you to follow the treatment plan that you and your health care professional design specifically for you to reduce the risk of potential complications including:
- Inability to perform daily tasks
- Permanent loss of sensation
- Severe discomfort or pain
- Spread of cancer
- Spread of infection