Forearm Tendonitis Information

Forearm tendonitis (also know as tendonitis of the arm) is the inflammation, irritation and swelling of the forearm. The condition usually develops as a result of overuse, injury (strain or tear) and/or aging of the tendon. It's important not to get forearm tendonitis confused with wrist tendonitis or elbow tendonitis. Forearm tendonitis affects the tendons in the forearm only.

Anatomy of the Forearm

The diagram below shows the detailed anatomy of the forearm. You will see the two problem areas where forearm tendonitis develops highlighted in red.

Forearm Tendonitis Diagram

What Causes Forearm Tendonitis?

The main cause offorearm tendonitis is overuse. This may be overuse from repetition or strain (lifting too heavy weights). The second main cause is through injury or strain. Forearm tendonitis often occurs when the forum tendon or muscle is torn. The tear creates swelling and pressure on the tendon which leads to inflammation and tendonitis. The third main cause is age. As the human body ages the tendons lose their elasticity and become brittle. The older a person is, the more susceptible they are to developing tendonitis.

Athletes, people who work manual jobs and people over the age of 40 are in the "high risk" category of developing forearm tendonitis. In particular, those who are starting a new exercise program or returning from exercise after a long absence are at risk. You should always ease back into exercise (see prevention below).

Common Symptoms

The symptoms of forearm tendonitis are the same as any other type of tendonitis (except calcific tendonitis). Here is a llist of common symptoms you may feel in the forearm area (see diagram above for pain areas).

  1. Pain in the forearm area.
  2. Swelling, redness or burning in the forearm.
  3. Stiffness and inability to move forearm freely.
  4. Pain at night and early in the morning.
  5. Difficulty performing hand movements (eg, making a fist).
  6. Grinding sounds when you move and rotate your forearm.

When the condition first develops, pain is usually felt during or after activity and then at night. As the tendonitis develops the pain will get worse and may be felt all day.

Forearm Tendonitis Treatment

It's important that you begin treatment as soon as you feel the pain in your forearm. In most cases, forearm tendonitis can be cured without the need to see a doctor. You should apply R.I.C.E. treatment as soon as possible. R.I.C.E. treatment is the following:

  1. Rest - rest the forearm.
  2. Ice - apply ice to the forearm for 20 minutes at a time.
  3. Compression - apply light pressure to the forearm.
  4. Elevation - elevating the forarm will help reduce pain.

You should follow the steps mentioned above for as long as it take for the symptoms to subside. It's very important that you the ease back into physical activity. After a period of rest and healing your forarm tendons will be very susceptible to inflammation. You may want to strap or brace the forearm for additional support.

If the forearm tendonitis returns after treatment you should consult your doctor. Your doctor will give you a full examination and may recommend further treatment. This treatment may be either cortisone injections, and in extreme and very rare cases, surgery.

Prevention Tips & Advice

Here are some tips to help you prevent forearm tendonitis developing. Remember, prevention is much better than treatment.

  1. If you are away from exercise for an extended period of time, always ease back in slowly. It will take some time for your body to adjust to the stress of exercise.
  2. Always warm up, stretch and cool down when exercising.
  3. If you're weight training, don't train your muscle if they are still sore from the previous workout. Revover is important for strength and muscle growth.
  4. If possible, aviod activites that place excess stress on the forearm.

If you experience forearm tendonitis, you are more likely to have symptoms again down the road, but with an intelligent approach to your exercise or activity routine, this problem can easily be avoided. 

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