Munson Health
Forearm Muscle Strain

Back to Document

by Cresse M

(Muscle Strain, Forearm; Pulled Muscle, Forearm)



The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Most forearm muscle strains can be diagnosed with a physical exam.
Muscle strains are graded according to their severity:
  • Grade 1—Some stretching with micro tearing of muscle fibers.
  • Grade 2—Partial tearing of muscle fibers.
  • Grade 3—Complete tearing of muscle fibers. This may also be called a rupture or avulsion.


Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Recovery time ranges depending on the grade of your injury. Treatment steps may include:

Acute Care

Your muscle will need time to heal. Avoid activities that place extra stress on these muscles:
  • Do not do activities that cause pain.
  • Do not play sports until your doctor has said it is safe to do so.
Apply an ice or a cold pack to the area for 15-20 minutes, four times a day, for several days after the injury. Do not apply the ice directly to your skin. Wrap the ice or cold pack in a towel.
Pain Relief Medications
To manage pain, your doctor may recommend:
  • Over-the-counter medication, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen
  • Topical pain medication—creams or patches that are applied to the skin
  • Prescription pain relievers
Compression can help prevent more swelling. Your doctor may recommend an elastic compression bandage around your forearm. Be careful not to wrap the bandage too tight.
Elevation can also help keep swelling down. Keep your arm higher than your heart as much as possible for the first 24 hours or so. A couple of days of elevation might be recommended for severe strains.

Recovery Steps

Use heat only when you are returning to physical activity. Heat may then be used before stretching or getting ready to play sports to help loosen the muscle.
When the acute pain is gone, start gentle stretching as recommended. Stay within pain limits. Hold each stretch for about 10 seconds and repeat six times. Stretch several times a day.
Begin strengthening exercises for your muscles as recommended.
If you are diagnosed with a forearm muscle strain, follow your doctor's instructions .


To help reduce your chance of getting forearm muscle strain, take the following steps:
  • At work, use an ergonomic keyboard or workstation.
  • Keep muscles strong. This will help them absorb the energy of sudden stressful activities.
  • Avoid over exercising.
  • Learn the proper technique for sports.
  • If you are feeling tired, stop exercising.


American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor

American Council on Exercise



Canadian Physiotherapy Association

Canadian Academy of Sports Medicine



Dawson, WJ. Intrinsic muscle strain in the instrumentalist. Med Prol Perform Artists. 2005;20:66-69.

Johns Hopkins sports medicine patient guide to muscle strain. John Hopkins Medicine website. Available at: Accessed April 26, 2013.

Sprains, strains, and tears. American College of Sports Medicine website. Available at: Accessed April 26, 2013.

What is Occupational Therapy? American Occupational Therapy Association website. Available at: Accessed April 26, 2013.

10/26/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance Massey T, Derry S, Moore R, McQuay H. Topical NSAIDs for acute pain in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010;(6):CD007402.


Revision Information