Pronator teres syndrome occurs whenever the median nerve becomes entrapped.
The median nerve is the nerve that passes through parts of this muscle.
If this nerve gets damaged or trapped, it can lead to pain and chronic discomfort. Milder symptoms include tingling in the hands and forearms.
Below, we’ll talk more about pronator teres pain and how to recover from it. Let’s get started!
Pronator Teres Anatomy
The pronator teres muscle is responsible for rotating the forearm.
The muscle is located on the forearm (palmar side), and works in conjunction with the pronator quadratus muscle.
It has two “heads”: the ulnar head and humeral head. The nerve that runs through this muscle is the median nerve.
Like any nerve, entrapment or damage can result in pain that doesn’t go away.
Now that you understand the anatomy, let’s talk more about the causes and treatment options.
What is Pronator Teres Syndrome?
The symptoms that someone experiences with pronator teres syndrome is very similar to what they might experience with carpal tunnel syndrome.
Some of the “hallmark symptoms” include:
- Palm Numbness
- Tingling in the Palm
- Decreased Thumb Strength
Patients also complain about not having a lot of strength when bending their wrist or when turning their forearm.
As you can see, these symptoms are also found in carpal tunnel syndrome.
For this reason, it can be tricky to distinguish between the two. After your doctor performs specific tests, they’ll be able to tell you which one you have.
For example, they may have you perform simple exercises like bending at the wrist or flexing your forearm.
This will let them know for sure whether it’s actually pronator teres pain you’re experiencing.
Pronator Teres Pain vs. Carpal Tunnel Pain
So, how can you spot the difference between pronator teres pain and carpal tunnel pain?
It won’t always be easy to distinguish, but there are ways to tell the difference.
Let’s talk about the differences below:
- Difference #1: Carpal tunnel syndrome typically won’t cause pain when you turn your palm downwards. With pronator teres syndrome, there will be pain.
- Difference #2: Pronator syndrome is associated with repetitive movement activities, like twisting at the wrist for example. CTS can have many causes.
People who are most at risk at those who use their hands during work. This includes mechanics and carpenters.
Also, sports like weightlifting, rowing, and many others can put you at risk for injuring your pronator teres muscle.
Another cause could be physical trauma, which would be evident. Rarer causes include tumors (which restrict specific nerves) as well as other genetic abnormalities.
Here’s a fun fact: females are four times more likely to develop pronator teres pain in their lifetime than men!
How to Treat Pronator Teres Syndrome
Perhaps the best thing you can do to treat your symptom is rest. If you continually use your muscle, then it will never get a chance to heal.
If you’re in pain, then you can apply ice to ease the pain as well as to help reduce the swelling.
We recommend applying ice for no more than 15 minutes at a time. Repeat several times a day (3-4 times) for maximum effect.
Your doctor may also recommend that you take pain killers (like ibuprofen), but this is only required if you have a lot of pain. Milder cases don’t need medicine.
Finally, you may want to consider getting a sports massage to help ease your pronator teres pain.
These are specifically designed to reduce muscle tension, which should help a lot.
The Bottom Line
Some patients find comfort in acupuncture, which is designed to reduce tension in the muscles. This may or may not work at relieving the pain.
If the doctor believes it’s a blocked nerve, then they may give you a corticosteroid injection. Only rarely will surgery be required.