Extensor Carpi Radialis Longus: Structure, Function, Pain
What is the Extensor Carpi Radialis Longus Muscle?
The Extensor Carpi Radialis Longus belongs to one of the main five muscles which facilitate movement of the wrist. When it comes to the dimensions of this muscle, it is pretty long. It starts on lateral side of humerus and attaches to the base of the second metacarpal bone which is the metacarpal of the index finger.
What is the Structure of the Extensor Carpi Radialis Longus?
To understand the structure of the Extensor Carpi Radialis Longus, this muscle originates from the lateral supracondylar ridge of humerus, the lateral intermuscular septum, and a few fibers originate from the lateral epicondyle of the humerus. These fibers culminate at the upper third part of the forearm into a flat tendon. This tendon traverses along the lateral border of radius underneath the Abductor Pollicis Longus and Extensor Pollicis Brevis. This then traverses underneath the Dorsal Carpal Ligament where it settles in a groove behind the radius which is common to it as well as the Extensor Carpi Radialis Brevis which is present just behind the styloid process. The Extensor Carpi Radialis Longus muscle is one of the three muscles which form the radial forearm. Initially, it is located adjacent to the brachioradialis; however, it is mostly a tendon early on. It then passes between the Brachioradialis and the Extensor Carpi Radialis Brevis. It continues into the second tendon compartment together with the Extensor Carpi radialis Brevis muscle. It is then inserted into the dorsal surface at the base of the second metacarpal bone at its radial side.
What is the Function of Extensor Carpi Radialis Longus?
The Extensor Carpi Radialis Longus has various functions of which the most important one is the radial deviation of the hands. Moreover along with the other extensors of the wrist, this muscle stabilizes the wrist at the time of gripping activities thus preventing it from flexing.
What Can Cause Extensor Carpi Radialis Longus Pain?
An individual develops Extensor Carpi Radialis Longus Pain only if this muscle gets too tight or it contains trigger points precipitating pain. This pain is usually on the lateral side of the elbow. More often than not this pain mimics pain that is experienced during Tennis Elbow pain. In addition, an individual can have pain all the way from the forearm into the back half of the hand. The affected individual will tend to have a weak grip and may also drop things frequently. The most common cause of tight Extensor Carpi Radialis Longus muscle or trigger points in this muscle is overuse, especially having repetitive strong grip. When we speak of a strong grip, there are many sporting events which require an individual to have a strong grip like backhand shot in tennis, individuals involved in rock climbing, weight lifters are also prone to pain of the Extensor Carpi Radialis Longus. Individuals especially retired people who spend most of their time gardening and doing yard work also can get tight Extensor Carpi Radialis Longus and subsequent pain. Individuals who are in construction who require frequent use of screw drivers also can develop Extensor Carpi Radialis Longus pain.
Apart from the above mentioned activities, certain normal hand movements can also make the Extensor Carpi Radialis Longus tight like a simple shake-hand with someone or twisting a doorknob. These activities may overwork the muscle and result in pain.
Once you have successfully identified that Extensor Carpi Radialis Longus has been overworked and is causing pain then there is nothing to worry as there are simple exercises which one can do at home to relax the muscle and calm down the pain and inflammation. The best way this can be done is by massaging the Extensor Carpi Radialis Longus muscle.
Exercises to Ease Extensor Carpi Radialis Longus Pain
When it comes to massaging the Extensor Carpi Radialis Longus muscle, then it can be done using the fingers, elbow, or even a ball.
Massaging Extensor Carpi Radialis Longus Muscle Using Fingers: This can be done in two ways. In the first way, place the finger at the area of tenderness and pain and massage the areas very slowly using the fingers. Do this for about 5 minutes. A second way to do this massage is by placing the finger at the tender area and then moving the wrist so that the muscle is made to move. This can also be helpful in relieving the tightness. This can be done about 15 times in a day.
Massaging Extensor Carpi Radialis Longus Muscle using Elbow: In this form of exercise you need to place the elbow of the other hand into the top of the forearm and then slowly massage the tender area of extensor carpi radialis longus pain by bringing the elbow down throughout the length of the hand. When this is being done the wrist should be placed in a position such that the pinkie finger is pointing at the elbow. This exercise should be done making sure that the wrist is kept open at all times so as not to tighten forearm flexor muscles.
Massaging the Extensor Carpi Radialis Longus Muscle Using Ball: This is by far the best way to treat pain in the Extensor Carpi Radialis Longus. To do this take a Tennis Ball and place it on the forearm muscles. Now gently press against a wall to look for a tender area and once found massage the area about 15 times slowly. This is the best way to loosen up the tight Extensor Carpi Radialis Longus muscles.