Forearm Pain

Usual Suspects:

  1. The muscles of the forearm
  2. The muscles of the upper arm
  3. The muscles of the front of the neck
  4. The muscles of the upper back
  5. The muscles of the chest and side

The Imbue Pain Relief Patch temporarily relieves minor aches and pains of muscles and joints. In the diagrams below, the X’s show the locations of common trigger points (localized muscle strain), and the colored shading shows the pain pattern each trigger point produces. This pain is often several inches (or more) away from the trigger point at which it originates. If application of the Imbue Patch directly to the knee does not significantly improve your pain, applying the Imbue Pain Relief Patch at the site of strain in nearby muscles sometimes yields better results.

As this list shows, forearm pain can come from so many places. If you try the Imbue Pain Patch where it hurts and don’t get satisfactory results, check out this article. It may sound complicated, but we will approach it methodically, and, chances are, you will discover where your forearm pain is really originating from.

Forearm Pain that Originates in the Muscles of the Forearm

This is the simplest place to start. Generally, when forearm pain originates in the forearm muscles, it should respond well to placing the Imbue Pain Relief Patch directly where it hurts. However, because some trigger points refer pain to other areas, it is always useful to cover an area several inches broader than where the pain occurs.

Almost all forearm pain originates in the upper third of the forearm (see X’s in diagram). The X’s in this diagram indicate common trigger points, with each of the different colors representing a different muscle. (Including the extensors, flexors, pronators, brachioradialis, brachialis, palmaris longus, and others.) Each of the different colors of shading shows the pain pattern produced by the X of the same color.

Thus, the trigger point at the yellow X, just down from the middle of the inside elbow crease, can produce pain along the inside of the forearm (more toward the thumb side of the forearm). The green and orange X’s produce pain along the forearm in line with the thumb, and also pain in the hand at the web between the thumb and index finger. The light blue X also produces pain in this region, plus along the forearm in line with the index finger and at the outer elbow. The purple and pink X’s, respectively, produce pain along the outside surface of the forearm, and into the middle finger and ring finger, respectively. The blue and red X’s produce pain around the inside of the wrist. The brown X produces pain mainly at the back of the wrist.

However, these trigger points don’t always occur exactly where they appear on a diagram. Your best bet is to thoroughly examine your whole forearm. Try following a series of parallel lines, as shown in this diagram. Press firmly with your thumb or curled fingers, starting at the elbow and working down toward the wrist. Then, shift over slightly and work down the next line, eventually going the whole way around the arm. Pay close attention to points that are significantly tender. You may wish to mark them with a pen. The colored lines on this diagram cover only the upper half of the forearm, since this is the region where most of the trigger points occur. However, you may find trigger points closer to the wrist also. Massage any tender spots you find, pressing them firmly and slowly sliding your fingers or thumb downward, toward your hand. You may also try pressing a tender spot firmly while rotating your hand back and forth repeatedly. Then apply the Imbue Pain Relief Patch.

Forearm Pain Due to the Muscles of the Upper Arm

Two muscles of the upper arm are worth investigating in cases of forearm pain: triceps and coracobrachialis. Let’s look at them.

Triceps Brachii:

The triceps is a three part muscle that covers the back of the upper arm (shown in yellow in the biceps diagram above). Trigger points in triceps can cause pain that radiates up the arm into the back of the shoulder, and also down to the elbow (mimicking “tennis elbow”) and forearm. Each of the X’s in this diagram indicates a common site of trigger points in the triceps (though it is always worth feeling the whole muscle thoroughly), and the shading of the same color indicates the pain pattern each trigger point is capable of producing.

As you can see, the blue X’s, which are on the inside edge of the triceps (perhaps closer to the armpit than pictured), can cause pain on the top of the forearm, in line with the thumb. The yellow point has a very similar pain pattern in the forearm (though it doesn’t have the potential to cause shoulder pain like the blue spots do). The red point, besides causing pain in a similar part of the forearm to the blue and yellow X’s, can also produce a numb sort of pain around the thumb side of the hand. The green point can make the elbow hypersensitive to pressure, though is not likely to produce forearm pain. The orange point is on the inside of the triceps muscle, sometimes closer to the front than the back (pictured here more toward the back than it tends to be), and it produces forearm pain in line with the ring finger and pinky. Massage any tender points you find and apply the Imbue Pain Relief Patch here.

Coracobrachialis:

Coracobrachialis is a small, thin muscle located on the inside of the upper arm between the biceps and the triceps. The X in the diagram shows its general location. To actually find this muscle, you need to reach into your armpit with your (opposite) thumb, and feel along the upper end of the arm bone. While doing this, if you pull the tip of your elbow to your side, you should feel the coracobrachialis tighten. The red shading in the diagram shows the pain pattern this muscle can produce, which includes the front of the shoulder and the back of the upper arm, forearm, hand, and sometimes the middle finger. If you find tenderness here, and especially when your pressure reproduces the pain you have been experiencing, be gentle when massaging this muscle. If you apply the Imbue Pain Relief Patch here, check after an hour or two to be sure the sensitive skin in this area is not becoming irritated.

Forearm Pain Due to the Muscles of the Front of the Neck

The scalenes muscles, a group of three (sometimes four) bands on the front/side of the neck, can cause very unusual patterns of pain in the arms, hands, chest, and back (see red shaded regions on diagram). People almost never suspect them because there is rarely discomfort at the muscle itself (except when pressed). The scalenes are fairly unpleasant to have massaged, but when they are implicated in pain, getting them to relax can yield profound results.

The scalenes are partly buried underneath the sternocleidomastoid (SCM). This diagram shows the SCM in red, which is easily visible through the skin. (If you put a hand on one cheek and try to turn your head against it, the SCM will pop out on the side you’re turning away from.) The scalenes are shown in yellow and are only partly visible. The blue area is muscles of the back and shoulder.

Start by pressing just above the middle of your collar bone on the side that you have pain on. Then gradually work your way toward the front of the neck where you will feel a superficial band of muscle (SCM), which lies on top of the scalenes. Then begin working your way up the neck, pushing the SCM aside, pressing instead on the harder deeper muscle beneath. Next work back, going as far back as the very side of the neck. Try to cover the entire area in the red triangle in the lower diagram. Pay special attention to points that produce an unpleasant painful or nervy sensation that may travel to other areas – particularly to the forearm. These are key spots for gentle self massage and placement of the Imbue Pain Relief Patch.

Forearm Pain Due to the Muscles of the Upper Back/Shoulder

The muscles of the upper back are quite often implicated in forearm pain. Usually you’ll be aware of some soreness in the upper back or shoulder area if this is the origin of your forearm pain, but not always. The primary back muscles involved are two of the four rotator cuff muscles of the shoulder – infraspinatus, which lies over lower portion of the shoulder blade, and supraspinatus, over the upper portion of the shoulder blade – plus teres major near the outer edge of the shoulder blade, serratus posterior superior, under the inside edge of the shoulder blade, and finally latissimus dorsi, which covers most of the side aspect of the back.

To find trigger points in these muscles, you will need either the help of a friend who can press on your back, or the use of a tool, such as a Thera Cane or a small, firm ball (a lacrosse ball is ideal, but a tennis ball is okay). If using a ball, lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat. Place the ball under your back and roll slowly on it to apply pressure along the whole inside border of the shoulder blade. Alternatively, you can also place the ball between your back and a wall, and then slowly bend your knees to roll the ball up and down your back (see diagram). You may find the wall method allows for better control of the ball, though for using the ball as a massage tool, lying on it provides stronger pressure. Now, let’s look at these muscles in more detail.

Supraspinatus:

Supraspinatus runs from the upper surface of the shoulder blade through the shoulder joint and attaches to the top of the arm bone (humerus). It is somewhat hidden under other layers of muscle, so press deeply to feel all along the region just above a horizontal ridge of bone on the shoulder blade (the spine of the scapula). Trigger points in supraspinatus can cause aching at the back of the elbow and forearm, sometimes extending to the back of the wrist. Raising the arm may be difficult and painful, and there may be popping or snapping sounds in the shoulder joint. The X’s in the diagram show these trigger points and the red shading displays the supraspinatus pain pattern. If you discover significantly tender spots, especially if pressing on them either produces the forearm pain you have been experiencing or makes it feel better, do some massage and place the Imbue Pain Relief Patch here.

Infraspinatus:

Infraspinatus, despite being a very easy muscle to access, is often overlooked, maybe because the bulk of it is on top of the shoulder blade and people either don’t think to press on bone or believe it’s sore just because there’s bone beneath it. The X’s in this diagram show where the main infraspinatus trigger points occur (in the rather shallow, tight muscle that lies over the lower 2/3rds of the back of the shoulder blade). The red shading indicates the pain pattern this muscle can cause (not necessarily all at once).

Infraspinatus is one of the most epidemically cranky muscles in the human body. The infraspinatus joins the back of the shoulder blade to the top of the arm bone (humerus) and when it’s irritated, it usually sends pain deep into the joint and into the front of the shoulder, sometimes also inhibiting shoulder movement (“frozen shoulder”). The pain can extend down the arm and forearm, to the middle fingers and thumb. It occasionally radiates into the neck, too. Pain here may weaken the shoulder and make it difficult to reach behind the back. It is important to methodically press on the entire surface of the shoulder blade. If you discover significantly tender spots, especially if pressing on them either produces the forearm pain you have been experiencing or makes it feel better, do some massage and place the Imbue Pain Relief Patch here.

Serratus Posterior Superior:

In this diagram, the X shows where primary serratus posterior superior trigger points occur (on top of the ribs, just next to or slightly underneath the shoulder blade) and the red shading shows the pain it is capable of producing. Serratus posterior superior connects the spine of the upper back to the ribs underneath the shoulder blade. When it is strained, it can produce a dull ache under the shoulder blade, and can also refer pain to the back of the shoulder joint, the tip of the elbow, the back of the forearm, the outside of the wrist, the pinky side of the hand, the pinky, and sometimes even the chest directly in front of the muscle. If you discover significantly tender spots, especially if pressing on them either produces the forearm pain you have been experiencing or makes it feel better, do some massage and place the Imbue Pain Relief Patch here.

Teres Major:

This muscle originates on the back surface of the shoulder blade, at its lower tip, and connects to the top of the arm bone (humerus). Trigger points in this muscle tend to cause pain mainly at the back of the shoulder (see red shading in the diagram for its pain pattern), but this pain can also extend down the arm and the back of the forearm where it is usually felt as a dull ache. The main teres major trigger points occur right near the lower tip of the shoulder blade, sometimes along its outer edge. If you find significantly tender spots, especially if pressing on them either produces the forearm pain you have been experiencing or makes it feel better, do some massage and place the Imbue Pain Relief Patch here.

Latissimus Dorsi:

Latissimus dorsi is a very large muscle covering much of the middle to lower back. It has many possible trigger point locations producing several different pain patterns. The one implicated in forearm pain is located near teres major, but off the shoulder blade and over the ribs instead. The X in this diagram shows the general area of this trigger point, and the red shading shows the pain pattern it can produce. This pain is typically felt at the lower portion of the shoulder blade and back of the shoulder, but it can also spread down the back and inside of the upper arm and forearm, and even into the ring finger and pinky.

You can press firmly on the area just to the outside of the lower tip of the shoulder blade (feel a few inches in all directions). You can often feel this area directly by reaching through your armpit with the opposite hand and using your fingertips to press on the back of the rib cage, although you may wish to enlist the help of a friend, a ball, or a Thera Cane. Place the Imbue Patch wherever you find significant tenderness, especially when it produces (or alleviates) the forearm pain you have been experiencing.

Forearm Pain Due to the Muscles of the Chest and Side

Though somewhat less common, tension in the muscles of the chest (pectoralis major and minor), under the collar bone (subclavius), and a muscle over the side of the rib cage (serratus anterior) can also cause forearm pain.

Subclavius:

Subclavius means “under the collarbone,” which is where it is located. In this diagram of the muscles and bones of the chest and arm, the collarbone is shown in yellow and subclavius is blue.

For such a small muscle, subclavius can produce an impressively broad pain pattern. In the trigger point diagram, the X indicates the general area of subclavius trigger points and the red shading shows its potential pain (and/or numbness pattern). This includes the biceps, forearm, thumb, index finger, and middle finger.

Starting below the innermost end of the collarbone (where it joins with the sternum), push in and up, as if trying to get your thumb or fingers under the collarbone. Gradually work your way outward toward the shoulder. The most common site of subclavius trigger points is about at its midpoint (halfway between the center of the chest and the armpit). When you find a tender spot, massage and apply the Imbue Patch here. Be sure to use a large enough piece of the Patch to cover above and below the collar bone by a couple inches (as if trying to wrap it around the bone).

Pectoralis Major and Minor:

Pectoralis major, or simply “pec major,” forms the bulk of the musculature of the chest. Pec minor lies beneath pec major, and runs from a protrusion of the shoulder blade (the coracoid process) down to the upper few ribs. Trigger points in these muscles, which often result from exercise, overuse in work, carrying a backpack, or having slumped posture, can set up trigger points that produce pain in the chest, front of the shoulder, and arm.

The red X’s in this diagram show common locations of trigger points in pectoralis major that are capable of causing pain in the forearm. The blue X’s show common sites of trigger points in pectoralis minor that may cause forearm pain. The green X at the side shows the general location of the most prominent serratus anterior trigger point (see below). Rather than feeling only in the approximate locations of the X’s in this diagram, it is best to press around the whole general area where these trigger points occur. Place the Imbue Patch anywhere you find significant tenderness that radiates to the forearm or alleviates your forearm pain.

Serratus Anterior:

These diagrams show the finger-like shape of this muscle, which wraps around the side of the upper rib cage. Its main site of strain, shown at the X (approximately), produces pain mainly at the side, but which can also spill over to the mid back and down the arm. The blue shading indicates this arm pain pattern, which actually occurs along the inside (unseen) aspect of the arm. This kind of arm pain is usually a vague dull ache. Start by feeling directly below the armpit at the most prominent rib, about 4 to 6 inches down. Then press methodically, covering several inches in all directions. If you find any points of significant tenderness, especially if they produce pain in the forearm when pressed, do some gentle massage and apply the Imbue Pain Relief Patch here.

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