What is forearm pain?
Your forearm consists of two bones that come together to join at the wrist, called the ulna and radius. Injuries to these bones or to the nerves or muscles on or near them can lead to forearm pain.
Your forearm pain can feel different depending on what’s causing it. In some cases, the pain may be burning and shooting due to nerve pain or damage. With others, the pain may be aching and dull, as can be the case with osteoarthritis. The pain can affect the function of your arm or hand, resulting in tingling and numbness. Other possible symptoms associated with forearm pain include:
- swelling of your forearm or fingers
- numbness in your fingers or forearm
- affected strength, such as weakened grip strength
- poor range of motion
- an elbow or wrist joint that pops, clicks, or catches with movement
Sometimes forearm pain isn’t caused by an injury or dysfunction of the forearm itself. Pain in the forearm can be referred pain. This means that the injury is to another place, but the forearm hurts.
Although there are many underlying causes of forearm pain, most can be treated either at home or through medical care.
What causes 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:
- arthritis, which causes the protective cartilage in your joints to wear down, resulting in bone rubbing against bone
- carpal tunnel syndrome, where the nerve canal in your wrist leading to your fingers starts to narrow, pressing on the nerves and resulting in pain
- falls, which can lead to injuries such as bone fractures, sprains, or damage to ligaments
- issues with veins and circulation
- muscle strain, often from playing a sport such as tennis or golf
- overuse injuries, such as injury from excess computer use
- poor posture, such as poor neck posture or your shoulders curving slightly forward, which can compress the nerves in your forearm
- problems with nerves, which can be the result of medical conditions such as diabetes or thyroid disorders
You may be able to pinpoint the exact underlying cause of your forearm pain. Other times, you may not be sure how the symptoms occurred. Your doctor can help you identify if there is any underlying damage to the bones, joints, or nerves, or if another condition could be causing your symptoms.
You should seek immediate medical attention if you have a visible bone fracture or hear distinctive popping, clicking, or crunching related to a forearm injury.