The question many people who have forearm pain near elbow frequently ask is, “How did this happen?” or “What did I do to deserve this?” First of all don’t worry, you’re not alone!
It doesn’t take much to strain the muscles and tendons in your forearms. Or should I say it doesn’t require heavy lifting or extreme force. Rather pain in your forearm, especially near your elbow is usually the result of performing an action, activity or movement over and over again where you extend and repeatedly bend your wrist upwards. This is where your investigation begins.
What kind of actions and movements can cause forearm pain near your elbow?
Think of movements that you do everyday or perhaps you have done within the past few days where you had to do the same movement over and over again without much of a break or rest time. Don’t think of heavy lifting activities, think more along the lines of duties that required you to constantly squeeze, grip or hold an object while doing some kind of work or task.
An activity that anyone who lives in a climate that receives snow in the winter is familiar with is shoveling snow. It seems like an innocent enough “force activity” but it can cause severe forearm pain especially if you are shoveling everyday or overusing your arm by doing the same action over and over again. Or in the springtime, raking up leaves from your garden or simply using a broom to sweep your driveway or sidewalk is an action that is intense enough to cause inflammation, pain and swelling in your elbow or forearm.
So what if you’ve had outside elbow pain and/or upper forearm pain for more than 3 days? Are your experiencing outer elbow pain that sometimes shoots down your arm and into your wrist or hand? If so, what does this all mean?
This can be an indication that something more serious has happened and that you’ve actually injured yourself. There are so many small muscles in your forearm that help you grip and squeeze that an injury to any one of them creates a whole set of problems with the normal use of your arm. From a decrease in flexibility to a dramatic decrease in overall grip strength where you can no longer hold onto anything with confidence.
The injury that you most likely have suffered is referred to as tennis elbow, also called lateral epicondylitis and elbow tendonitis. It mostly affects males between the ages of 40-60. Surprisingly enough the majority of cases come from people who are not tennis players.
But to make sure that it is tennis elbow that you have, here are a couple of signs and indicators to watch out for:
a) Is your injured arm stiff and hard to fully straighten or extend?
b) Does the pain sometimes shoot from your elbow down your forearm and into your hand or wrist?
c) Have you noticed a decrease in grip strength or perhaps you sometimes drop things?
d) Is your elbow tender to the touch on the outer side of your forearm?
e) Do you experience an increase in elbow pain when you grip or squeeze tightly on an object? For example, does your elbow pain get worse when you carry grocery bags, turn a doorknob, shake someone’s hand or grip a coffee mug?
These are the top 5 symptoms and signs of a tennis elbow injury. Don’t worry about the name and it has very little to do with playing tennis. In fact, 95% of people who get it don’t even play tennis!
Statistics show over and over again that you are 10 times more likely to develop tennis elbow in the workplace than you are while playing tennis or any other sport. Tennis elbow is a major concern for occupational workplace and safety committees for the simple reason that individuals like yourself are having to take time away from work because of this injury which costs companies around the world millions of dollars each year in productivity loss.
Which muscles and tendons of your forearm are damaged when you have tennis elbow?
The primary forearm muscles that become injured, inflamed and/or damaged when you get tennis elbow are the forearm extensors. These muscles sit on the top of your forearm and are responsible for movements such as gripping, squeezing and any other action that requires you to bend your wrist upwards.
Not many people give a second thought to how many times you have to grip, squeeze or hold something in your hand. Each time you that grip your coffee mug/cup, turn a doorknob, type on your computer keyboard, open your car door, grip your smartphone, etc… These are all tasks that we do each and everyday without even thinking about it until we start to experience pain.
As these forearm muscles become irritated from repeating the same action over and over again, they become inflamed and swollen. As a result, they start to tighten up and constrict which pulls on your extensor tendon which is attached at your elbow. This is when you start to experience, a decrease in your arm’s normal range of motion, flexibility plus some elbow tightness and stiffness – all common symptoms of tennis elbow.
Below is an image of where your extensor muscles and tendons are located on your arm.
So now that you know you have tennis elbow and that your forearm pain is not just a random thing, especially if it’s been hurting for 3 days or more, what can you do about it?
Tennis elbow is a very treatable condition that you can cure on your own from the comfort and convenience of your own home without drugs, medication, medical gadgets or special exercise equipment. No need for elbow braces or cortisone injections.
In fact, all it really takes are these 5 easy-to-follow techniques that you can do right now to eliminate your tennis elbow and forearm pain near your elbow for good!