28 Nov Brachioradialis Tendonitis
The brachioradialis is a muscle in the forearm that extends from the lower part of the humerus down to the radius. It performs the functions of forearm flexion, pronation, and supination. It is innervated by radial nerve (C5 to C7).
Brachioradialis tendonitis is the inflammatory condition that is characterized by shooting pain along the length of this muscle through the forearm. It is often confused with tennis elbow. Both are caused by overuse and overexertion. If the muscles in the forearm become extremely tight, a shooting pain can be felt in the forearm and elbow, which is called brachioradialis pain. Brachioradialis pain and swelling are usually felt when shaking hands, turning a doorknob, using a screwdriver, and drinking a cup of coffee. The most common cause of brachioradialis tendonitis is overexertion. It can also be precipitated by trauma, such as a fall or a blow from a hard object.
Brachioradialis pain is often associated with muscle weakness. It is sudden in onset, sharp, radiating, and piercing. The patient is unable to completely straighten or bend the elbow due to the pain. There may be a crackling sound when the muscle or its tendon is touched. Brachioradialis pain is also associated with extreme tightness of the forearm muscle, which worsens with use. There may be an associated pain at the back of your hand, index finger and thumb. It is particularly painful while performing actions like turning a doorknob, drinking with a cup, shaking hands with someone, turning a screwdriver, etc.
Treatment begins with symptomatic relief with the RICE method:
- Rest: Limit use for up to 3 days following the onset of pain.
- Ice: To limit inflammation and swelling, you should apply ice for 20 minutes every two hours.
- Compression: To decrease swelling, loosely wrap your forearm with a medical bandage.
- Elevation: To minimize swelling, keep your forearm and elbow elevated.
Once the inflammation and pain subside, specific exercises can improve the muscle’s strength. This also helps prevent future bouts. These exercises include:
- Range of motion: These consist of gentle stretchings, such as bending the elbow, rotating the wrist, and extend your arms behind the back and touch hands together.
- Isometrics: These include contracting the brachioradialis muscle and holding for a set period of time. Holding a small dumbbell while doing so helps to make to more challenging and beneficial.
- Strength training: This comes later and includes weight lifting to develop/regain muscle strength. It is best for this to be supervised by a physiotherapist.
Most of the time, you can treat brachioradialis tendonitis at home, but if the pain and swelling persist then see a doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment. Electromyography or nerve conduction studies may be performed to confirm the diagnosis. It also assesses for nerve damage. The strength and movement of the shoulders are also assessed.