Forearm pain can happen for many reasons, such as an injury, overuse, nerve entrapment, and arthritis. Treatment depends on the cause. However, applying warm or cool packs, taking pain relief medication, and immobilizing the joint may help.

Injury or discomfort in the forearm can have a wide-ranging impact on mobility and interfere with daily functioning. For example, forearm pain can make it difficult to type on a keyboard or grip an item with the hand.

This is at least partially due to the forearms being composed of the radius and ulna bones, which span the length of the forearm to intersect at the wrist joint. The location means that the forearm is intrinsically involved in a range of everyday arm or hand movements.

This article discusses some common causes of forearm pain. It also explains various treatment options, depending on the cause.

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The forearm contains several superficial, immediate, and deep muscles. Like most body parts, its structures are connected by tendons and ligaments.

Forearm pain can occur for a variety of reasons.


An acute trauma, such as a fall or accident, can cause a fracture in one or both of the forearm bones. This can lead to immediate pain, swelling, and bruising. It may also rarely cause weakness or numbness in the fingers or wrist.


Certain activities that require repeated movement of parts of the body, such as forearms and wrists, can cause repetitive strain injuries (RSI).

These activities can include:

  • sports, such as tennis or golf
  • job-related motion, such as hairdressing, typing, or decorating
  • regular use of hand-held power tools
  • poor posture when standing or sitting, may be more likely to affect shoulders

Nerve entrapment

When nerves become compressed, it can cause pain, numbness, or a tingling feeling in and around the affected region. Nerve entrapment can be the result of a range of different syndromes affecting the forearm. One of the more common of these conditions is carpal tunnel syndrome.


Arthritis can occur in the wrist or elbow, causing a dull ache in the forearm. There are more than 100 types of arthritis that can affect various joints in the body.

An underlying condition

Certain medical conditions, such as angina, can cause pain in the forearm. Angina is chest pain that is often related to other conditions, like coronary heart disease. This pain in the chest can spread to other areas of the body, such as the arms, shoulders, neck, and jaw.

In the case of an injury such as tendon damage, nerve entrapment, or overuse, a person may be able to administer treatment at home using the following techniques:

  • Rest: Reducing activity involving the forearm will help the injured tendon, ligament, muscle, bone, or nerve to recover. A person should rest periodically rather than remaining inactive for sustained periods. However, a person with sports-related forearm pain may need to avoid the sport until the pain has entirely subsided.
  • Pain medication: A person can take Ibuprofen or other anti-inflammatory medications to manage pain.
  • Immobilization: In cases where movement is very painful, a person may require a splint or sling to restrict movement and minimize pain.
  • Hot or cold therapy: The use of an ice pack can help to reduce inflammation and pain. A person may also try heat therapy after the swelling has gone down, which will also ease the pain.

Certain causes of forearm pain, such as carpal tunnel syndrome or fractures may require surgery or injections to treat them.

Carpal tunnel syndrome can sometimes be managed with the use of corticosteroid injections. These injections can help reduce pain and calm a flare-up of the condition.

If nonsurgical treatments, such as injections, are ineffective, surgery may be required to manage carpal tunnel syndrome. This procedure is known as carpal tunnel release. There are a couple of options to perform this surgery. However, the aim is always to release the pressure on the nerve by cutting the ligament.

Most cases of forearm fractures in adults require surgical treatment. This is done in order to realign the the bones and make sure they are stabilized to promote healing.

Treatment may be accompanied by exercises and stretches designed to rehabilitate and strengthen the forearm slowly. However, a person should only start doing exercises or stretches after consulting with a healthcare professional to avoid aggravating the injury.

Exercises may vary based on the underlying cause of forearm pain.

Wrist extension

This exercise helps to stretch the forearm muscles:

  • Standing upright, extend the injured arm in front of you with the palm parallel to the floor.
  • Using the opposite hand, pull the wrist back toward the body.
  • Pull the wrist back until feeling a stretch in the forearm but without feeling any pain
  • Hold the position for 20 seconds.

Wrist rotations

This exercise can help to improve blood circulation through the forearm and flex the wrists:

  • Extend arms in front of you with hands at shoulder height.
  • Make fists and rotate each wrist clockwise then anticlockwise in a circular motion.
  • Perform 10 repetitions in each direction.

Strength building exercises

During later stages of rehabilitation, it can be beneficial to go to a gym and use equipment such as cable machines, light dumbbells, or exercise bands. Strength building exercises, such as wrist curls or reverse curls, can help to build forearm strength, helping to prevent forearm pain from reoccurring.

However, individuals should discuss this with their physiotherapist before adding weights to their exercises.

It may not always be possible to prevent causes of forearm pain. However, a person can take basic precautions to help prevent it from occurring, such as:

  • Avoiding activities that put excessive strain on the forearm, such as tennis or certain types of weightlifting. However, taking precautions such as resting and stretching may also help.
  • Taking regular breaks from extended periods of computer use and using an ergonomic keyboard at work.
  • Strengthening the forearm and increasing grip strength through resistance training.

Forearm pain can be disruptive to daily functioning, but most people can manage it through a careful balance of rest and structured activity. It may also be possible to prevent certain causes of forearm pain by using ergonomic keyboards at work and taking precautions when playing sports.

However, persistent cases of forearm pain may indicate arthritis or an underlying condition that requires further medical attention.