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If pain in the arm (wrist, elbow or forearm) is not associated with a trauma, it is often due to excessive stress. These conditions include epicondylitis (inflammation of the condyle in the elbow), tenosynovitis of the wrist and carpal tunnel syndrome. 

Most strain conditions of the hand and forearm resolve themselves within a few weeks, but their recurrence is common. However, only a small number of cases become chronic. The main risk factors for excessive strain are repetitive work movements, tasks requiring a lot of hand strength, bending the wrist for long periods of time, cold air and vibration.

Self-care

  • Reduce stress on the pain site. 
  • Continue using your arms in normal daily activities and exercising as the pain allows. 
  • Pay attention to ergonomics. 
  • Use painkillers and/or analgesic gel if necessary. 
  • Using a wrist splint or brace may sometimes be useful.

When should you seek treatment?

See a healthcare professional if: 

  • the pain is associated with a high-energy trauma (such as a fall), is severe, and is accompanied by swelling, or 
  • the pain is prolonged and involves reduced strength or mobility of the arms. 

When should you see a physiotherapist?

See a physiotherapist if the pain persists and the self-care instructions do not help.

Information source: The Finnish Medical Society Duodecim

FSHS Physiotherapist / 4 October 2019