Brachioradialis pain and swelling
Brachioradialis pain is usually a shooting pain in your forearm or elbow. It’s often confused with tennis elbow. While both are typically caused by overuse and overexertion, tennis elbow is an inflammation of the tendons in your elbow and brachioradialis pain is specific to this muscle.
The brachioradialis is a muscle in your forearms. It extends from the lower part of the humerus (the long bone in your upper arm) down to the radius (the long bone on thumb side of your forearm). It’s also called Venke’s muscle.
The primary functions of the brachioradialis are:
- forearm flexion, which raises your forearm when you bend your elbow
- forearm pronation, which helps rotate your forearm so your palm faces down
- forearm supination, which helps rotate your forearm so the palm faces up
The most common symptom of brachioradialis pain is extreme tightness of the muscles in your forearm. This can cause pain in your forearm and elbow. The pain intensifies when you use your forearm muscles.
You may also experience pain in the:
- back of your hand
- index finger
Actions that can trigger the pain include:
- turning a doorknob
- drinking with a cup or mug
- shaking hands with someone
- turning a screwdriver
The most common cause of brachioradialis pain is overexertion. If you overload your brachioradialis muscle for extended periods of time, it will become tender and, eventually, painful.
Although manual labor and weightlifting are the two most common causes, other repetitive movements from playing tennis to typing on a keyboard can bring on the symptoms as well.
Brachioradialis pain can also be caused by a physical contact injury such as a fall or a blow from a hard object.
As with many overexertion injuries, the faster you can treat brachioradialis pain, the better.
Following the RICE method can be effective:
- Rest. Limit use as much as possible during the 72 hours following the onset of pain.
- Ice. To limit inflammation and swelling, you should apply ice for 20 minutes every two hours.
- Compression. To decrease swelling, loosely wrap your forearm with a medical bandage.
- Elevation. To minimize swelling, keep your forearm and elbow elevated.
Once your brachioradialis muscle recovers and the pain subsides, specific exercises can improve the muscle’s strength. This can help prevent future incidents. Some recommended exercises include:
Range of motion
Range-of-motion exercises mostly consist of gentle stretching. Basic moves including bending your elbow and rotating your wrist. If you’re looking for more advanced stretching, extend your arms behind your back and touch your hands together.
To complete isometric exercises, contract your brachioradialis muscle and hold it for a set period of time. To make the move more difficult and cause a deeper stretch, hold a small dumbbell.
A physiotherapist can let you know if you’re ready to start lifting weights. If you are, they’ll recommend exercises that might include barbell curls and dumbbell hammer curls.
If you notice pain in your forearm or elbow when you do things like turn a doorknob or use a screwdriver, you may have overexerted your brachioradialis muscle. Although commonly confused with tennis elbow, brachioradialis pain is very different and requires different treatment.
Most of the time, you can treat this injury at home. If the pain and swelling don’t go away, see your doctor for a thorough diagnosis and recommendation for treatment.