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Brachialis Strain Pain Physiotherapy
Brachialis strain or brachialis tear is a common injury
that occurs when you overstretch or overwork the brachial muscle in the upper
It is typically characterized by:
- Muscle tightness, and
- Loss of strength in the arm or elbow
If you often feel pain shooting up your hand
during certain movements, such as turning a knob, holding a cup of coffee, or using
a screwdriver, it might be due to brachialis tear.
Brachialis sprains are usually seen in people who
frequently participate in physical activities like rope climbing or perform
workouts involving a lot of pull ups and curls. Hyperextension or sudden
forceful contraction of the elbow joint can also trigger brachialis pain.
The condition is not serious and most of the
time, it can be easily treated at home. However, if the pain and swelling
persists, you must consult a physician or see our physiotherapists or hand therapists as soon as you can.
In this article we
discuss at length the symptoms and causes of brachialis strain. We also explore
its treatment options and how physiotherapy can provide lasting relief from
What Is the Brachialis Muscle and What Does It Do?
The brachialis muscle is not a commonly known or discussed topic known to a lot of
people, which is why many of them have trouble identifying pain associated with
its overuse until it becomes too severe.
To understand the symptoms of brachial tear and
what can cause the muscle to become strained in the first place, you need to
know the location and function of the brachial muscle.
anatomy of the brachialis can help you fully recover after an injury.
The brachialis is the main flexor of your elbow
joint. It is situated about a centimeter away from the coronoid and attaches
the ulna with the front of the humerus. It is covered by biceps brachii and has
two main nerves running close to it – the brachial artery and the recurrent
Simply put, the brachialis muscle allows you to
bend your elbow. Every time you lift something that involves your elbow, such as
- do a push up
- cut a slice of
- throw a basketball
your brachioradialis muscle is activated.
A sudden force or extensive use of your arm or
wrists may overload the brachial muscle. This can culminate in mild to acute
inflammation and in severe cases, lead to muscle tear.
When this happens, you are likely to feel pain in
the upper arm. At times, the pain might be accompanied by swelling, numbness,
or weakness in the forearm or even fingers.
and continuing to use a torn brachialis can increase your chances of developing
tendinitis. If the muscle tears away from the elbow joint, it can lead to
avulsion fracture that can greatly limit your range of motion.
At an even
higher stage, nerve damage may occur and show as permanent deformity of the
What Causes Brachialis Strain?
While it can be hard to identify the exact cause
of brachial pain, muscle strain is usually the leading cause this condition.
There are many different factors that can result
in the brachial muscle being strained. For example:
- Prolonged bending of elbow at an odd angle
- Sports injuries
- Working with heavy tools
- Recent illness
- Immunization or any other medicinal shots in the
They can all contribute to a brachialis strain as
they make the muscle tender, and eventually, painful.
A direct injury can
also be the causative force behind brachialis tears. For example, falling on
your arms or hitting your elbow against a hard object can cause this muscle to
become damaged due to the sudden / forceful impact.
Symptoms of Brachialis Strain
Extreme tightness of the muscles in your forearm
is the most common symptoms associated with brachialis strain.
Generally, the pain intensifies when you perform
certain actions that activate this muscle. This includes shaking hands with
someone, opening a door, turning the gear stick with the affected arm, and so
The pain is normally felt in the forearm, but depending
on the severity of the strain, the discomfort may extend to the back of your hand,
especially the thumb and the index finger.
Other ways to identify a brachial strain include:
- Weakness in arm muscles
- Piercing, sharp or radiating pain along the arm
- The pain starts in the shoulder or near the
crease of elbow
- Soreness over the elbow’s front
- Difficulty in bending or completely straightening
- Elbow is sensitive to touch
- There is a popping sound when you flex your arm
- You feel something in your elbow joint move or
‘crack’ every time it is moved
Other Conditions Similar to Brachialis Strain
Brachialis strain and the accompanying pain, thereof,
is widely confused with lateral epicondylitis (commonly known as Tennis Elbow).
Although the symptoms of brachialis strain tend
to mimic those of a Tennis Elbow, the two conditions are totally different and
thus, require different treatment.
Due to the location of the pain, brachialis
muscle injury can also be confused with medial epicondylitis (Golfer’s Elbow).
Therefore, when describing your symptoms to a
physician, try to be as precise as you can.
You doctor might perform additional scans to avoid misdiagnosis and
pinpoint where the injury has occurred.
Who Is at Risk of Experiencing Brachialis Strain?
- People who frequently partake in recreational
activities like rock climbing are at high risk of experiencing a brachialis
- People whose jobs involve a lot of manual labor (e.g.
lifting heavy objects like books or furniture) are also at high risk of this
- Construction workers who wield a chainsaw on a
daily basis are likely to develop a brachialis tear.
- Athletes are more susceptible to brachialis
muscle damage, especially if they play tennis, bowling, or rowing.
- Parents or daycare workers who frequently lift
and hold children with their elbows bent improperly are prone to straining
their brachialis muscle.
- Playing music instruments like the violin or
guitar for prolonged hours can increase your chances of suffering from
- Overdoing fitness exercises like pull ups, arm
curls, chin ups, or anything involving excessive elbow flexion can rupture the brachialis
muscle at the joint.
Treatment Options for Brachialis Strain
Brachialis strain is usually treated with massage
and physical therapy, especially if the pain is mild to moderate. However,
aggravated conditions may require supplemental medical treatments, such as
cortisone injections. In extreme scenarios where response to conservative
treatment methods is refractory, surgery may be required eventually.
People who experience a brachialis strain and
seek professional help on time are usually able to recover successfully without
the need for surgical methods.
If you are diagnosed with brachialis strain, your
doctor may recommend traditional methods for pain control. Some of these are
discussed briefly below.
Pain Relief Tips
As with most overexertion injuries, the first
step to treating brachialis strain usually involves the RICE technique. RICE
stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. It can be effective if you:
- Limit the use of your affected arm and elbow as
much as possible, for about 72 hours after the injury or onset of pain (Rest).
- Apply an ice pack to the aching muscle for around
15-20 minutes every 2-3 hours (Ice).
- Loosely wrap the elbow joint and forearm with a
medical bandage or a soft flannel (Compression). This helps reduce swelling.
- Keep the affected arm at an elevated level, for
instance, while sitting or lying down (Elevation).
How Physiotherapy Can Help People with Brachialis Strain
While you can implement the RICE method for pain
control at home, it is highly recommended that you follow up with a physical
therapist for lasting relief from pain.
Our expert physiotherapists can have helped
several individuals with brachialis strain get rid of the ache and can develop
a personalized treatment plan for you too.
speaking, we use special stretching and
strengthening exercises to alleviate pain and help the strained muscles
naturally. Of course we will start the session by first doing in-depth
assessment and differential diagnosis, to pin-point exactly what the
painful condition is (accuracy is key) as well as what is the exact
activities, actions and habits that aggravate it.
If the pain is so severe that the patient has
difficulty bending the elbow or rotating their wrist, we begin at the basic
moves. Once the pain subsides, we use isometrics and strength training to
gradually restore proper function of the affected parts.
Since we follow a holistic approach to treating
all muscle and joint injuries, your treatment for brachialis strain might also
- Manual therapy as well as massage – The
brachialis muscle has various trigger points that can help control pain if
activated gently via massage. Massaging these spots enhances blood flow and
improves soft tissue flexibility, which, in turn, speeds up the recovery.
- Kinesiology Tape – In some
cases, your therapist might suggest kinesiology taping to complement the
effects of physiotherapy. This is a therapeutic bandage that helps reduce
swelling, increase mobility, and boost recovery in sprained muscles, joints,
- Shockwave therapy if it's a chronic (long term) pain that you have for more than 6+ weeks
- Elbow and Shoulder Stretches – Brachialis
strain can cause certain nerves in your arm to become pinched. While this can
aggravate the pain, the good news is that a few simple stretches and postural
correction exercises can help you get rid of the symptoms effectively.
Most injuries to the brachialis muscle heal
within 6 to 8 weeks. Depending on the nature and severity of your injury, your recovery
might be a bit longer or even shorter. Do not delay seeking professional
medical help as it is the key to fast, proper, and lasting recovery from a
brachialis strain or tear.
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At the first session, our specialist physiotherapists will carry out a thorough
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Follow up sessions are inline to provide
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exercises to reduce your risk of re-injury and giving you a long term
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