Flexor carpi radialis pain & trigger points

The flexor carpi radialis can induce pain at the volar side of your wrist if it is overly tight or contains trigger points.

It is a muscle of your forearm that helps to move your hand.

On this page you will learn about its attachment points, functions, pain zones, overload movements, impaired movements, palpation and self-massage.

1. Pain patterns and symptoms of the Flexor carpi radialis

1.1 Pain patterns

Excessive muscle tension or trigger points in this muscle can induce pain at the volar side of your wrist.

1.2 Impaired or painful movements

If this muscle is too tight or harbors trigger points, it may be that you feel pain with any motion where you have to flex your fingers and your wrist.

It goes without saying that all the activities that are listed under the point “Overuse And Trigger Point Development” are probably painful and impaired.

2. Attachment points

This muscle runs from the medial epicondyle to the metacarpal bone of the index finger.

The X in the muscle picture displays an area that is common for trigger points to set up.

3. Function of the Flexor carpi radialis

This muscles’ function is to flex your hand and to abduct it at your wrist.

1

Flexion at the wrist

2

Abduction at the wrist

4. Trigger point activation of the Flexor carpi radialis

Especially excessive use of gripping, twisting and pulling motions will lead to unnecessary tension and the development of trigger points in this muscle.

That means lots of activities of your daily living can create problems. Here are a few examples – all of which include repetitive or excessive gripping, twisting or pulling motions –.

  • wringing out wet towels or clothes
  • driving an old car without power steering hours-long
  • gardening
  • playing tennis
  • playing golf

Beside that, it is important to note that other muscles, located more centrally in your body, can induce satellite trigger points in your flexor carpi radialis if they contain trigger points themselves or are too tight.

That means, all activities that overload those muscles can eventually induce pain at your volar wrist. Before you now freak out and get totally overwhelmed, please don’t. Simply spoken it means the following.

If you find trigger points in this muscle, and work them but they reappear all the time and your pain just won’t subside, check the muscles listed below.

They might contain key trigger points which you have to deactivate for lasting relief.

  • Pectoralis minor

5. Palpation

1

In order to feel this muscle, bend your wrist and make a fist. Now you should be able to see and feel a couple of tendons appearing at your wrist.

Feel the outer one – that is closest to your thumb – and follow its entire length down your forearm.

2

After a couple of centimeters the tendon will transfer into the muscle belly.

3

That muscle is your flexor carpi radialis.You should be able to palpate it all the way down to your medial epicondyle.

6. Self-Massage of the Flexor carpi radialis

For massage I recommend using a massage ball. A tennis ball can be already too soft for massage.

Still, you might feel different, especially if your forearm muscles are extremely tender.

I absolutely love massaging this area with a ball, for two simple reasons.

First, I found the pressure that I can create with my ball – a cork ball– more than sufficient to relieve tight tissue.

The second reason is, that the ball covers quite some area while exerting pressure and thus also treats surrounding muscles.

As it is very rare that only one of the forearm flexor muscles develops problems in isolation, this is even desirable.

On top of that, this lets me concentrate stronger on finding tender spots instead of staying exactly on the flexor carpi radialis.

6.1 Self-massage with a ball

  • Place the ball on the muscle and then lean against a wall.
  • Then roll over it and search for tight and tender tissue …
  • … and massage it with very short, deep and slow strokes for 10 – 15 times.

References

  • Calais-German, Blandine. Anatomy of Movement. Seattle: Eastland Press, 1993. Print
  • Davies, Clair, and Davies, Amber. The Trigger Point Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide For Pain Relief. Oakland: New Harbinger Publications, Inc., Print
  • Simons, David G., Lois S. Simons, and Janet G. Travell. Travell & Simons’ Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual. Baltimore, MD: Williams & Wilkins, 1999. Print.
  • Schünke, Michael., Schulte, Erik, and Schumacher, Udo. Prometheus: Lernatlas der Anatomie. Stuttgart/New York: Georg Thieme Verlag, 2007. Print