What is Extensor Carpi Ulnaris and What is its Function?

The Extensor Carpi Ulnaris muscle is located on the ulnar side of the forearm. The function of this muscle is to facilitate extension and bending of the wrist. The Extensor Carpi Ulnaris muscle originates from the outer side of elbow on the lateral epicondyle of humerus and traverses down the forearm and enters the base of the small finger. The Extensor Carpi Ulnaris muscle gets its supply of blood from the ulnar artery. When it comes to innervation, this muscle is innervated by the radial nerve. When it comes to functioning, the Extensor Carpi Ulnaris muscle works in coordination with the Flexor Carpi Ulnaris muscle while performing adduction maneuver of the wrist. When we speak of ulnar deviation which is a type of hand deformity, the Extensor Carpi Ulnaris muscle is the only muscle responsible for this. The Extensor Carpi Ulnaris muscle in layman's terms can be defined as a muscle which is used to accelerate a motor bike. Extensor Carpi Ulnaris muscle is quite frequently used in day to day affairs of the human body while at work or at home hence it is prone to get injured or damaged. When this happens, it may cause a lot of pain in the elbow and wrist. Such dysfunction can be managed with the use resistance band and gentle strengthening exercises.

What is Extensor Carpi Ulnaris and What is its Function?

Signs and Symptoms of Extensor Carpi Ulnaris Injury and Pain

Some of the signs and symptoms suggestive of an Extensor Carpi Ulnaris muscle injury are:

  • Experiencing an excruciating sharp pain and discomfort on the outer part of the wrist.
  • An extremely weak grip can be a sign of extensor carpi ulnaris injury.
  • Any twisting motion of the wrist like opening a door can cause immense pain in the wrist
  • Experiencing writer's cramp can also be a sign and symptom of extensor carpi ulnaris injury.

What Can Cause Pain of the Extensor Carpi Ulnaris Muscle?

Some of the activities which can result in damage of the Extensor Carpi Ulnaris muscle are:

  • People working in the logging industry where they have to grip wide pieces of logs repetitively can cause damage or injury to the Extensor Carpi Ulnaris muscle.
  • People who use the screwdriver like those in the assembling section of an electronics company are also prone to Extensor Carpi Ulnaris Injury and Pain
  • People who are involved in prolonged crocheting can also damage their Extensor Carpi Ulnaris muscle causing pain.
  • Avid golfers are also prone to an injury to the Extensor Carpi Ulnaris muscle
  • Sportsmen who play tennis a lot can also damage the Extensor Carpi Ulnaris muscle.
  • People working in the Information Technology Sector who spend quite a lot of time sitting in front of the keyboard or data entry operators can also injure the Extensor Carpi Ulnaris muscle in the long run
  • Writers who write for prolonged periods of time can also injure the Extensor Carpi Ulnaris muscle.

Risk Factors of Extensor Carpi Ulnaris Injury and Pain

Some of the medical conditions that can be caused due to an injury to the Extensor Carpi Ulnaris muscle are:

  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • C8 radiculopathy
  • Charcot Joint.

What is the Treatment for Extensor Carpi Ulnaris Injury and Pain?

When it comes to treating an injured Extensor Carpi Ulnaris muscle causing pain in the wrist and the adjoining areas the most preferred and recommended way is massaging the injured area or using supports or braces. Massaging can be done either using cold therapy or by utilizing heat. Wrist supports and braces are also quite useful in relieving pain caused due to a dysfunctional Extensor Carpi Ulnaris muscle. All these treatments have been explained in detail below.

Cold Therapy for Treating Extensor Carpi Ulnaris Injury and Pain: For treating a dysfunctional Extensor Carpi Ulnaris muscle using cold therapy, the most recommended treatment is using a Biofreeze gel. This gel has been shown to be quite useful in reliving pain and discomfort caused due to a dysfunctional Extensor Carpi Ulnaris muscle. This gel tends to cool the inflamed area quickly and prevents development of swelling due to the cooling effect. Studies have shown that this gel can relieve pain twice more than normal gels and its effect lasts more than nine times than any other cooling gel. To use this gel, gently rub it at the injured side both at the front and back starting just at the elbow going down all the way to the tip of the thumb.

Wrist Ice Wrap for Treating Extensor Carpi Ulnaris Injury and Pain: When an individual has an injured Extensor Carpi Ulnaris muscle then just treating the thumb pain is not sufficient but the whole muscle needs to be treated. For this the Ice Wrist Wrap has been shown to be quite beneficial, as it covers the entire muscle and provides compression and helps in healing of the muscle. To begin with, you can start wearing the wrap for about 20 minutes and then gradually increase the time. You can also adjust the wrap so as to cover the thumb as well. Also helpful can be using a frozen wash rag wrapped around the thumb along with using the wrap as this combination will completely cover the muscle and allow it to heal faster. Additionally, Biofreeze gel can also be applied along with using the wrap for additional comfort.

Wrist-Elbow Wraps for Treating Extensor Carpi Ulnaris Injury and Pain: The majority of the pain felt due to an Extensor Carpi Ulnaris muscle dysfunction is in the wrist and hand areas, it is also important to treat the muscle right from its origin which is from the elbow for better results. For this, an Elbow Ice Wrap quite a good option to relieve pain caused due to a damaged Extensor Carpi Ulnaris muscle. This can be used successfully by positioning the wrap around the wrist and base of thumb for relieving the discomfort in the area and gently moving the wrap towards the elbow such that the entire muscle right from the forearm to the wrist and thumb is wrapped. This allows complete healing of the muscle.

Warm Therapy for Extensor Carpi Ulnaris Injury and Pain: There are a lot of gels readily available in the market which can be used to treat Extensor Carpi Ulnaris muscle pain. Such gels provide required warmth to the muscle which expedites healing process. Arthritis patients can use such gels for instant pain relief. The gel can be applied can be applied on the inside part of the elbow and the wrist region several times a day for maximum benefit. One must make sure to not use heating gels while simultaneously using ice or heat packs as this may lead to blistering of the skin.

Wrist Brace for Extensor Carpi Ulnaris Injury and Pain: Braces also play an important role when it comes to healing a damaged Extensor Carpi Ulnaris muscle. Most of the times, people with a damaged Extensor Carpi Ulnaris muscle still use the hand which hampers healing of the muscle thus to avoid that a lot of wrist braces are available so as to prevent motion of the wrist and allowing sufficient time for the muscle to heal.

Arm Compression Sleeves for Extensor Carpi Ulnaris Injury and Pain: These have also been shown to be quite effective in relieving pain and discomfort caused due to an injury or damage to the Extensor Carpi Ulnaris muscle. These sleeves provide more support to the muscle and prevent it from any reinjury and also help in recovery. It is mostly used by people who have significant pain affecting their activities of daily living and athletes along with people who use tools quite often in their work.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: May 26, 2016

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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