Health
Fact-checked

At TheHealthBoard, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.

Learn more...

What Are the Signs of a Sprained Forearm?

A sprained forearm often presents with pain, swelling, and bruising, making it difficult to move your wrist or elbow. You might also hear a popping sound at the injury's onset. For a deeper dive into recognizing these symptoms and understanding the healing process, complete with illustrative images, continue exploring our comprehensive guide. What steps will you take if you spot these signs?
Madeleine A.
Madeleine A.

Signs of a sprained forearm include pain, bruising, and swelling. A sprained forearm may be a sports injury, or caused by exercise or abnormally turning the arm during physical activity. Although sprains are typically mild, a severe sprain may cause significant disability, causing extended sessions of physical or occupational therapy. Depending upon the severity of the sprain, recovery times can range from one week to 12 weeks.

A sprain can be caused by a sudden or unexpected movement and can occur when the body is not sufficiently warmed up prior to exercising. Exercising while fatigued can also cause a sprain. An MRI or x-ray may be used to diagnose a sprained forearm, however, traditional x-rays are typically not effective in diagnosing soft tissue injuries. When an injury occurs, immediate medical evaluation and treatment may improve the outcome, as delaying treatment may cause further damage to surrounding ligaments and other structures of the forearm.

A sprained forearm may occur as a result of a sport's injury.
A sprained forearm may occur as a result of a sport's injury.

Taking an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication or other pain reliever can help relieve symptoms of a sprained forearm. Although pain relievers such as acetaminophen-based analgesics can help reduce pain, they do little to reduce swelling and inflammation. Ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen sodium can help reduce inflammation as well as pain, but can cause abnormal bleeding and stomach upset. In rare instances, anti-inflammatory medications can cause kidney damage and may even lead to kidney failure.

Exercising while fatigued may cause a sprained forearm.
Exercising while fatigued may cause a sprained forearm.

Icing the sprained forearm can also help reduce pain and inflammation. Combined with anti-inflammatory medications, ice may help hasten recovery and improve circulation. Ice should never be applied directly to the skin, and should be wrapped in a soft cloth or placed in an ice bag. Wrapping the forearm may also help relieve symptoms and stabilize the arm while it is healing. The compression bandage should not be applied too tightly to avoid impeding the circulation and hindering recovery.

Wrapping the forearm may help immobilize a strain while it heals.
Wrapping the forearm may help immobilize a strain while it heals.

Elevating the arm higher than the heart can also help reduce swelling. Although most people respond well to over-the-counter pain relievers, some may require prescription pain relievers. These medications are usually codeine or opioid based and can cause side effects, including profound drowsiness, dizziness, and blurred vision. In addition, stomach upset, constipation and headache may occur. Driving and operating dangerous machinery should be avoided when taking prescription medications and they should only be taken when monitored closely by a health care professional.

You might also Like

Discussion Comments

Raynbow

@heavanet- I would not take the risk of creating a more serious problem by avoiding a visit to your doctor for this problem. You could have torn a tendon or even dislocated a bone when you fell. The fact that you are still having pain is a sign that you need to make an appointment with your doctor.

Heavanet

I was wondering if anyone has advice about when to seek medical treatment for a sprained forearm. I twisted my right arm a few weeks ago during a fall, but cold compresses and acetaminophen seemed to help relieve the pain and swelling. However, after about a week, the pain returned. I keep thinking it will go away with extra rest and by not using my arm too much for a while.

Post your comments
Login:
Forgot password?
Register:
    • A sprained forearm may occur as a result of a sport's injury.
      By: Actionpics
      A sprained forearm may occur as a result of a sport's injury.
    • Exercising while fatigued may cause a sprained forearm.
      By: Andres Rodriguez
      Exercising while fatigued may cause a sprained forearm.
    • Wrapping the forearm may help immobilize a strain while it heals.
      By: Kimberly Reinick
      Wrapping the forearm may help immobilize a strain while it heals.
    • Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication may help relieve symptoms of a sprained forearm.
      By: Voyagerix
      Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication may help relieve symptoms of a sprained forearm.
    • A sprained forearm can be treated with an ice bag.
      By: Kimberly Reinick
      A sprained forearm can be treated with an ice bag.
    • An x-ray can be done on a sprained forearm to assess the damage and see if the injury could be more serious.
      By: Silvia Crisman
      An x-ray can be done on a sprained forearm to assess the damage and see if the injury could be more serious.
    • Pain, bruising, and swelling are typical signs of a sprained forearm.
      By: ruigsantos
      Pain, bruising, and swelling are typical signs of a sprained forearm.