The forearm and calf muscles are not major muscles but still are subject to stress and overuse. Many factors can contribute to pain in the forearm and calf and can lead to difficulty in movement and functioning. Pain can be symptomatic of a range of disorders from the mildest to the most severe. Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial in dealing with forearm and calf pain.
Your forearm muscles keep your wrist and hand stable, aligned and mobile. Tendons attach the muscles to your lower arm bones, the ulna and radius. Ligaments connect your forearm bones to your wrist and hand bones and keep the wrist joint stable. Major nerves run through your forearm to stimulate your wrist and hand muscles and enable you to use your sense of touch and feel. Your calf muscles stabilize, align and mobilize your ankle and foot. The Achilles tendon connects your calf muscles to your heel while ligaments connect your lower leg bones to your ankle and feet. Your forearm and calf muscles contract to flex and extend your hands and feet.
Your wrists and hands are capable of extremely fine motor movements, which place a great deal of stress on your forearms. Repetitive movements from sport-specific skills or occupational skills can result in overuse injuries. Weight-bearing movements place additional forces on your lower leg muscles and bones. Repetitive movements such as running or jumping can result in overuse injuries and trauma.
Forearm pain can be a result of inflammation of muscles or connective tissue. The repetitive movements of swinging or throwing can cause ailments such as tennis elbow. Nerve problems such as entrapment or compression can be the result of pressure or trauma on the wrist joint. Occupational injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome can result from excessive wrist extension that often affects heavy computer use.
Calf pain can be the result of inflammation of muscles and connective tissues, particularly your Achilles tendon. Dehydration and low potassium levels can cause cramps. Shin splints in your calf can be the result of muscular imbalance between your calf and shin muscles. Circulation problems can also result in calf pain.
You can use rest, ice and moist heat to treat minor forearms strains and inflammation. Massage and stretching can stimulate blood flow to the affected area. For more severe injuries, rehabilitation might be necessary. For occupational injuries involving overuse, changes in work habits might be necessary.
Rest and ice can be a treatment for mild calf strains. More severe strains and tears might require up to a month of inactivity and rehabilitation. For extreme tears, surgery might be necessary.
Pain may be symptomatic of a variety of injuries and disorders. Pain that lasts longer than a few days might require medical attention. While forearm and calf muscles may not be major muscles, they are a major part of body movement and functioning. Talk to your doctor if your pain is severe or does not go away with minor treatment such as rest and ice.
- "Book of Body Maintenance and Repair"; American Physical Therapy Association; 1999
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