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Supinator Muscle: Elbow and Thumb Pain

Supinator Pain Pattern

The supinator causes elbow pain and pain in the thumb area. It is also a major contributor to tennis elbow.

  • Pain in the back of the forearm near the elbow
  • Pain in the back of the hand at the base of the thumb
  • Numbness and or tingling in the thumb side of the hand and wrist

Where is the supinator muscle?

The supinator is located on the outside (thumb side)  of the forearm just below the elbow. It connects the upper arm to the lower arm.

What movements does the supinator muscle control?

It turns the palm of the hand upward.

Activities that cause supinator pain and symptoms:

  • Tennis
  • Golf
  • Repetitive curls
  • Hoeing a garden
  • Sewing by hand
  • Working at the computer
  • Playing the violin
  • Chefs who stir or whip together ingredients frequently
Supinator Muscle

You use the supinator when you rotate your arm to turn your palm upward.

Clinical diagnoses to which the supinator muscle symptoms may contribute:

  • Tennis elbow
  • Lateral Epicondylitis
  • Sprain/strain
  • C5 or C6 radiculopathy

Other muscles that should be considered and examined in conjunction with the supinator:

Satellite Trigger Points: Triceps brachii, Biceps brachii, Extensor carpi radialis longus, Extensor carpi radialis brevis, Brachioradialis, Brachialis

For Anatomy Information See: Supinator Muscle Anatomy

Help with Supinator Muscle Injury Pain

Cold Therapy Treatment For Pain In The Elbow, Wrist and Thumb

Biofreeze Pain Relieving Gel is a cold therapy gel that provides pain relief for new injuries and is recommended as a maintenance treatment for overuse injuries.  Cold therapy should be used for new and recent injuries instead of heat as it cools the area much like ice and does not promote swelling. A recent study showed that Biofreeze decreased pain 2 times more than ice and the pain relief lasts 9 – 10 longer. If you have recently injured the supinator muscle or have unexplained pain that has just started in the elbow and thumb, use Biofreeze. Rub the gel into the elbow and down the arm to the thumb.

Biofreeze is recommended for recent muscle injury

 Elbow / Wrist Ice Wrap For Cold Treatment and Compression

The supinator can contribute to pain in the point of the elbow that radiates toward the outside of the elbow, down into the forearm, and often causes pain in the wrist and thumb area.  The DonJoy DuraKold Wrist and Elbow Ice Wrap is a good choice for this pain. I like this wrap because it can be used for the elbow and forearm and repositioned for the wrist. The wrap retains the cold for well over an hour, however, the recommended cold therapy treatment time is 20 - 30 minutes per session, longer treatment time could result in tissue damage.

DonJoy Wrist and Elbow Cold Wrap

Warm Therapy for Post Injury and Chronic Elbow, Wrist and Thumb Pain

Sombra Warm Therapy Pain Relieving Gel is a pain relieving gel that I use both personally and professionally in my massage therapy practice. It provides warmth without burning heat unlike other heating creams and gels.  It works well for post-injury pain and stiffness as well as chronic arthritis pain as it can be applied several times a day. To treat the supinator muscle, apply Sombra to the elbow and forearm just below the elbow to ease the pain.

NOTE: Do not use Sombra Warming Gel when using ice packs or heat packs as there is a risk of blistering the skin. For the most effective treatment, apply 5 to 10 minutes before putting on a brace or sleeve.

Sombra Warm Therapy Gel provides pain relief.

Excellent Elbow Brace For Tennis Elbow and Golf Elbow

If you have tried other elbow braces and have not found relieve from pain or mobility issues I recommend that you try the Professional's Choice Full Elbow Support. It is a heavy duty adjustable brace that provides support and warmth without restricting movement. There are cut outs in the bend of the elbow and thinner support at the point of the elbow to allow comfortable movement.  I have two friends that regularly wear this support to play golf and they report it does not interfere with their swing.  I use this brace myself and highly recommend it. The brace does not bind or bunch up and provides just the right amount of compression to keep the pain away. The neoprene material also radiates your body heat back into the muscles to provide soothing warmth which also helps with better mobility.


Support and Light Compression Sleeve For Supinator Muscle Pain and Symptoms

For post injury treatment or for those who suffer from chronic pain due to the supinator muscle the McDavid Elastic Elbow Sleeve will help by providing light support, as well as gentle compression to the muscle.  Pull the sleeve up to the top of the elbow joint which will allow the sleeve to cover the entire muscle. The sleeve can be used as a maintenance treatment  those who play tennis and golf as well as construction workers who use tight grips with wrist and elbow twisting motions.


BandIT Therapeutic Forearm Band: Compression Band for Tennis Elbow, Golf Elbow, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Repetitive Stress Injuries

The BandIT Forearm Band is worn by many professional athletes to relieve muscle pain caused by repetitive motions of the elbow and wrist. The BandIT uses selective pressure on the forearm muscles without cutting off circulation, limiting range of motion or causing swelling around the band. Though I do not recommend this as a long-term treatment or for long-term wear, the BandIT can help relieve pain for athletes to help get through a game or for those who suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome that want pain relief while typing to make a deadline. Read and follow the enclosed instructions for temporary relief from forearm, wrist, hand, and finger pain.


Wrist Brace To Support Wrist and Thumb

Because twisting motions of the wrist can cause injury and irritate the supinator muscle, a wrist brace can help relieve pain in the wrist and thumb area.  The ActiveWrap Compression Wrap for the Hand & Wrist not only provides compression and support in the wrist and thumb pad but also comes with insert gel packs for hot and cold treatment. The brace can be used on either hand and has two Velcro closures that can be adjusted for comfort.

ActiveWrap Wrist and Hand Hot and Cold Wrap
The Neo G Medical Grade VCS Wrist and Thumb Support provides adjustable wrist support and compression to the wrist. The brace allows full movement hand, fingers, and thumb while providing support to the wrist. A good choice for those who need wrist support but need full mobility of the hand and fingers.

Self Treatment For Supinator Muscle Elbow, Forearm, Hand Pain

Do you know that small "knots" and other dysfunction in the supinator can contribute to pain in the elbow that can also affect the hand?  These symptoms can mimic tennis elbow and carpal tunnel pain.

If this pain pattern sounds familiar  I  recommend that you purchase Claire Davies  The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief. Mr. Davies explains the trigger point phenomenon and muscle pain in everyday language.  But what makes this book worth its weight in gold are the individual muscle trigger point treatments that Davies has compiled. His diagrams and step by step instructions help you locate which muscles are contributing to your pain,  how to find the trigger point and treat it. It takes time and practice to master finding trigger points, but once you learn you have a tool and method to help relieve muscle pain throughout the body.  If you have unresolved elbow, forearm pain and pain and numbness in the hand, it may be trigger points in the supinator muscle of the arm. Deactivating trigger points can reduce or eliminate this pain. This book is a must-have for anyone interested in finding the cause and treating muscle pain.

The Trigger Point Workbook can help you resolve muscle pain throughout your body.

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