Pronator Teres Syndrome and Exercise Rehabilitation

Pronator teres syndrome can cause compression of your median nerve, leading to pain and disability in your arm. Some careers require constant use of specific muscle groups, like the pronator teres in the forearm, which can lead to injury over time. Massage therapy and stretching are most often recommended to relieve syndrome symptoms, as the root cause is often muscle tightness from overwork. Talk to your doctor or a physical therapist about your symptoms before going for treatment.

Woman getting physical therapy on her forearm (Image: KatarzynaBialasiewicz/iStock/Getty Images)

Pronator Teres Syndrome

The pronator teres attaches to both the humerus and ulna bones near the outside of your elbow -- the humerus is your upper arm bone while the ulna is the smaller forearm bone -- and runs diagonally across your forearm to attach to the larger forearm bone, or the radius. This muscle sits over your median nerve, which sends and receives signals between your arm and your brain. Pressure on the nerve can elicit pain while hindering your forearm movement. Pronator teres syndrome, or PTS, occurs when your pronator teres muscle becomes tight or overworked, compressing the median nerve.

Causes and Symptoms

PTS usually stems from repetitive motions that cause high amounts of tension in the pronator teres muscle. If your everyday activities include hammering, repeatedly using a screwdriver, cleaning fish or performing any activity that requires your forearm muscles to turn consistently can lead to overuse of the pronator teres. Symptoms include pain and reduced mobility in your forearm as well as numbness or tingling in your palm, thumb, forefinger or middle finger. Carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms are often confused with PTS; however, carpal tunnel's symptoms are aggravated by wrist movements while PTS symptoms worsen with elbow movements.

Massage Techniques

Specific massage techniques can help relieve tension in your pronator teres muscle, thereby lessening the compression of your median nerve. Called "releasing" the pronator teres, these techniques -- when performed by a trained professional -- can lengthen the muscle. Your practitioner may perform contact inhibition, during which the tight areas are drained of tension, as well as post-isometric relaxation. This technique continues to work stubborn tension out of the muscle, further relieving compression of the underlying nerve. Although bodywork can help with symptoms once they start, regular stretching will also help manage and potentially prevent PTS.

Pronator Teres Stretch

By stretching your arm gently and frequently throughout the day, you can inhibit hypertonicity and help lengthen the muscle. The forearm pronator stretch targets the pronator teres as well as the brachialis and brachioradialis. Stand with your back toward the inside of a door frame and extend your left arm straight above the midpoint between your hip and shoulder. Hold the door frame with your left hand, keeping your thumb pointing down, and roll your biceps upwards. You should feel a stretch in the front part of your arm in the elbow and forearm area. Hold the pose for 10 to 30 seconds and repeat with the other arm.

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