The supinator muscle is a smaller muscle located at the back of the forearm, as its name suggest its responsible for just one movement – supination (or turning the hand palm upwards). A tight or spasmed supinator muscle may cause pain in the outer side of your elbow joint or pain at the back of your hand, between your thumb and index finger. Occasionally an injury to your supinator will also result in numbness or tingling in the thumb side of your hand and wrist.
The most common cause of supinator muscle pain and injury is overuse due to repetitive activities involving forearm pronation and supination (repeatedly turning the palm up and down) or constant contraction of the muscle in supination (palm up).
Examples of activities that may aggravate your supinator include:
- Turning a screwdriver or wrench and shoveling
- Swinging a bat, club or racquet
- Performing dumbbell supination, dumbbell curls with supination or using a supinated grip during barbell curls or chin ups
An overactive supinator can become shortened, limiting the range of movement of the forearm. If this occurs the shoulder may start to compensate to make up for the limited pronation, dramatically increasing the risk of a shoulder injury.
Two common conditions associated with supinator pain include:
- Posterior Interosseus Syndrome or Supinator Syndrome, which is characterized by the compression of the posterior interosseus nerve as it enters or exits the supinator muscle, resulting in pain in the upper forearm, which sometimes radiates down towards the wrist. In more severe cases it may also result in weakness in the wrist extensors.
- Lateral epicondylitis or Tennis Elbow, is a condition which is characterized by pain in the outer side of the elbow joint. It results from the degeneration of the common extensor tendon which is caused by overuse and tightness of the supinator and wrist extensors.
At Infused Occupational Therapy our highly trained soft tissue occupational therapists will be able to assist in the diagnosis and treatment of your supinator pain. A soft tissue occupational therapist will use hands-on neuromuscular techniques, such as trigger point therapy, dry needling and/or myofascial release to improve functioning of the supinator and associated forearm muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia. These neuromuscular techniques work to break down fibrous adhesions, releasing tight muscles and correcting improper muscle functioning, reducing pain.
Your soft tissue occupational therapist may also recommend a number of other ways to get supinator muscle pain relief. This may include the use of heat or a stretching program to alleviate your pain.
Applying heat to your supinator muscle through the use of a heat pack may help to alleviate the pain. Heat is an effective form of pain relief that works by increases blood flow to the area, relaxing muscles and increasing range of movement and flexibility. By increasing the circulation and blood flow throughout the area, injury healing properties are delivered to the muscles, aiding in repair, and reducing the symptoms of supinator muscle pain.
Your Soft Tissue Occupational Therapist may recommend a stretching regime, which you will be able to do at home. Gentle stretching may decrease the pain associated with supinator muscle by encouraging circulation and blood flow to tissues, reducing muscle stiffness and spasm.
It is best to consult a health professional before starting a new stretching program if have existing pain. They will be able to assess and diagnose your pain before recommending an appropriate stretching program. At Infused Health our highly trained Soft Tissue Occupational Therapists will use a hands on approach to help treat your injuries, conditions or any concerns you may have. You can make an appointment today by calling 0401 876 623.