Forearm Pain Symptoms
Perhaps you've just been carrying on with your day like normal, or maybe spending too much time typing at the computer. But for some reason your forearm does not feel right. In certain cases, such as after a fall, the origin of forearm pain is easily identified. However, quite often, the origin of forearm discomfort is unknown. The best way to uncover the underlying cause is to identify the symptoms and characteristics of the pain as specifically as possible.
Possible symptoms associated with forearm pain include:
- Sharp pain in one or both forearms
- Tingling, diminished, or altered sensation in one or both forearms or hands
- Dull aching pain in one or both forearms
- Weakness of the forearm, wrist, or fingers
- Visible muscle atrophy of the muscles in the forearm or fingers
Certain causes of forearm pain symptoms can be due to complex systemic inflammatory processes that may involve other symptoms in addition to forearm pain. Therefore, in addition to those listed above, it is important to also note any other symptoms such as skin or mouth ulcers, nasal polyps, or any blood produced when coughing, as these may indicate the presence of an underlying immune dysfunction that may also be causing forearm pain.
Forearm Pain Causes Overview
In some instances, the cause of forearm pain is easily identifiable, such as being felt after a fall or athletic injury. In other cases, though, the underlying cause of the forearm pain symptoms can be harder to pinpoint. While there are many possible causes of forearm pain, they can be classified according to several categories.
- Metabolic: Certain common metabolic diseases, such as diabetes, damage the nerves, causing pain and/or numbness in the hands and forearms. Many patients with diabetes also have atherosclerosis, which causes poor blood flow as well as cramping or weakness in the forearms.
- Tumor: Any form of abnormal structure that compresses a nerve anywhere along its path between the spine and the forearm, such as a benign or malignant tumor, can lead to pain or numbness in the forearm.
- Hereditary: Certain inherited neuropathies, such as Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, can cause nerve sensitivity and/or degeneration. Such disorders are most frequently diagnosed in childhood, but are also sometimes diagnosed in adulthood. Additionally, while blood clots in the arm are rare, certain anatomic variations in the branching of arm veins can cause individuals to be predisposed to clots in the arm.
- Autoimmune : Vasculitis is a condition where the immune cells attack blood vessels, and it can affect many parts of the body, including the nerves. In cases where vasculitis causes forearm pain, either one or both arms can be affected, and symptoms may include pain, tingling, numbness, weakness, and muscle wasting.
- Infection: Many common viruses, such as those that cause chicken pox and cold sores, can also cause inflammation in the nerves (shingles). Usually this results in pain or numbness that lasts for approximately the duration of the active viral infection.
- Fracture: Forearm fracture after falling onto an outstretched hand is a very common cause of pain. If the pain is due to a fracture, it is important to assess whether there is any numbness, tingling, or decreased circulation in the affected region, as any of these are signs that immediate medical attention is needed.
- Compression from disk herniation: Compression of a nerve that travels to the forearm from herniation of a cervical disk in the spine is another common cause of arm pain.
- Interruption of blood supply: If anything happens to an artery or vein that blocks the flow of blood to or from the arm, this will cause arm pain, numbness, weakness, and/or swelling.
- Toxins: Ingestion of certain metals, such as lead and mercury, can lead to nerve damage, which can lead to arm pain. Additionally, excess consumption of alcohol can also damage nerves, causing numbness and/or pain.
2 Potential Forearm Pain Causes
Disclaimer: The article does not replace an evaluation by a physician. Information on this page is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes.
Cellulitis is an infection of the skin and tissues underneath it. It is most commonly caused by Group A strep and typically enters the body through a break in the skin.
Dependent on severity of infection
- Top Symptoms:
- fever, forearm pain, forearm redness, painful forearm swelling, forearm injury
- Symptoms that always occur with cellulitis:
- forearm redness, area of skin redness
- Primary care doctor
Forearm Pain Checker
Take a quiz to find out why you’re having forearm pain.Take a quiz
Diabetic neuropathy is a condition where pain, numbness, weakness, and motor loss occur in the limbs due to the effects of diabetes on the nerves.
Symptoms can last a lifetime.
- Top Symptoms:
- anxiety, depressed mood, trouble sleeping, diarrhea, fatigue
- Primary care doctor
Forearm Pain Treatments and Relief
When deciding whether to make a doctor's appointment, a trip to the emergency room, or to just try some small changes at home, you should consider several things.
You should head to the emergency room if:
- You experience loss of sensation, tingling, or pulselessness in your arms or hands lasting longer than a few minutes
- Your arm is swollen, misshapen, or extremely sensitive to touch or movement
- Your arm has either lost color and become pale or turned dark blue/purple
- You experience sudden-onset weakness in one or both arms
Schedule an appointment with your doctor if:
- You notice weakness in your arm(s) with exertion, such as while lifting or playing sports.
- You have intermittent tingling, numbness, or pain in your arms or hands lasting no longer than a few minutes at a time. If symptoms persist longer than a few minutes, then consider going to an emergency room.
- You think a change in your medications may be causing difficulty focusing, sitting still, or falling asleep at night.
Sometimes you can try a few things at home before seeking medical attention for forearm pain symptoms:
- Rest, ice, and anti-inflammatories: Resting the affected muscle groups can often help to diminish pain. Additionally, applying a cold pack to the source of pain for no more than 15 minutes at a time, three times a day, can also reduce inflammation. Lastly, taking the suggested dose of an over-the-counter NSAID, such as ibuprofen, can also help to lessen musculoskeletal pain. However, if a fracture is suspected or if pain persists for more than 24–48 hrs, call your doctor or head to an emergency room.
FAQs About Forearm Pain
Here are some frequently asked questions about forearm pain.
Why do I have forearm pain when gripping?
The most common cause of forearm pain while gripping is tennis elbow or lateral epicondylitis. Tennis elbow is caused by a chronic inflammation of the tendon, commonly called a chronic tendinitis. The tendon is injured from continuing use and strain of the tendon. As the body attempts to heal the tendon, the scar tissue is of a different quality than the original tissue and causes pain when it is strained during squeezing.
Why are my forearms sore for no reason?
There are many causes of forearm pain. With no obvious cause of forearm pain, medical examination is necessary to understand and identify the underlying cause of forearm pain. Commonly, unintentional muscle strain can cause forearm pain with no obvious reason. Other causes include cramps following blocked arteries or blood vessels in the arms, as well as compression of a nerve (e.g. carpal tunnel syndrome), or diabetes associated neuropathy.
What does it feel like to have a blood clot in your arm?
How a blood clot feels depends on which blood vessel — artery or vein — it blocks. If a blood vessel blocks an artery, an arm will become cold and painful and any pulses will disappear. It will become much more difficult to move and sensation will decrease and is a medical emergency. If a vein is blocked, the limb may be warm, swollen, and still have some degree of decreased sensation. It is uncommon to get blood clots in the arms in the absence of trauma or a procedure done in the arms or neck region.
Can an infection cause forearm pain?
Yes, an infection of the blood vessels called thrombophlebitis can cause forearm pain. Infection of the skin over the forearm can cause cellulitis, which can also be quite painful. Additionally, breaking the skin through trauma from a fall or scrape or injection of medication can also cause a deep tissue infection and forearm pain.
Why do my forearms hurt when I have a cold?
Viral infections can cause muscle pain (myalgia) that usually resolves prior to the viral infection. Viral infections cause pain in the muscles throughout the body, but can also cause pain in particular areas of the body including the legs or arms. If you have fever, chills, or back pain as well as muscle pain throughout, you should seek medical attention.
Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Forearm Pain
- Q.Any fever today or during the last week?
- Q.How would you explain your forearm pain?
- Q.About your [forearm], do you notice:
- Q.Turn your head toward the side of your body that is hurting. Lift your head up as someone else pushes down on your head. Does this cause greater pain in your upper body? (This is known as Spurling's test.)
If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, try our forearm pain symptom checker to find out more.Take a quiz
Forearm Pain Symptom Checker Statistics
People who have experienced forearm pain have also experienced:
- 13% Pain in the Upper Arm
- 11% Shoulder Pain
- 9% Wrist Pain
People who have experienced forearm pain had symptoms persist for:
- 29% Over a Month
- 25% Less Than a Day
- 25% Less Than a Week
People who have experienced forearm pain were most often matched with:
- 1% Cellulitis
Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).