Pulled muscles or tendons in the forearm can occur from one-time overuse, such as an extended period of typing or using a screwdriver. Repetitive-motion disorders can also develop over time, such as from continually using machinery or serving in tennis or volleyball. These muscle and tendon injuries to the forearm may also involve the wrist or elbow, as in carpal tunnel syndrome or tennis elbow. Treatments will depend upon how the condition developed and the severity of the disability.
Also known as rest, a reduction of activity will treat a muscle or tendon strain by removing stress on the injured tissue. This will allow for cellular rejuvenation among pulled muscle or tendon tissue and will relieve pressure on the median nerve in carpal tunnel syndrome cases. The MayoClinic.com notes that mild tendon strains can get better with more frequent rest breaks from normal activity. Severe strains may curtail activity by causing significant weakness and pain. The NYU Langone Medical Center counsels that sports play should be suspended as long as forearm pain persists.
Tendon injuries that involve a joint, such as tennis elbow and carpal tunnel syndrome, can make movement very painful. The University of Maryland Medical Center reports that use of a splint may be necessary to immobilize the elbow or wrist and to reduce forearm pain for up to three weeks.
Use of a sling may also provide effective stress-reduction treatment to prevent further injury and promote healing. According to NYU Langone Medical Center, elevating a forearm wrapped with a compression bandage will ease symptoms of pulled muscles.
When forearm pain and swelling are intense, the University of Maryland Medical Center recommends applying cold therapy with an ice pack or chilled reusable gel pack. For aches that persist after swelling subsides, heat therapy is recommended. Twenty-minute sessions, several times per day, will ease acute pain from pulled muscles or tendon strains in the forearm.
The University of Maryland Medical Center reports that nonprescription drugs such as ibuprofen, aspirin or naproxen can be taken for moderate forearm pain and inflammation. Severe muscle or tendon strains may require doctor-administered cortisone shots to break this pain cycle and move the body into recovery mode.
Preventing reinjury is an important part of rehabilitative treatment, especially when repetitive-motion conditions are involved. Gradually progressive exercise therapy will both restore health and strengthen the forearm to bolster it against future injury. The NYU Langone Medical Center suggests that patients get professional physical therapy to safely perform strengthening exercises.