Coracobrachialis Pain or Strain: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Exercise

Coracobrachialis pain in the arm is the ache felt at the upper and middle part of the arm. Coracobrachialis is the smallest of the three muscle located at the shoulder joint. Rupture or strain of Coracobrachialis muscle can result in pain in the shoulder’s front area and back of the upper arm and forearm. Those who suffer from tenderness and tightness of Coracobrachialis muscle also experience problems with the other muscles that function together with the Coracobrachialis muscle. It is a long and lean muscle at the shoulder joint and is responsible for the function of various arm movements. Overuse of the Coracobrachialis muscle can make it hard and can cause extreme pain while raising the arm and during other arm movements too. There are simple exercises that can provide relief from Coracobrachialis pain in the arm.

Coracobrachialis Pain or Strain

Function of Coracobrachialis Muscle

The front portion of the upper arm consists of three muscles – the smallest of the three is known as the Coracobrachialis muscle. This muscle aids in bringing the arm towards the body and also helps in internal rotation of the shoulder. It also helps in stabilizing the shoulder joint when the arm is placed at the body’s side. This muscle is named Coracobrachialis muscle as it fastens the coracoid process of the scapula. It protrudes upwards and outwards and is slightly forward from the top of the shoulder blades outside edge. This muscle is not as prominent as the biceps but it has several important functions at the shoulder joint.

The two major functions of coracobrachialis muscle in the shoulder are flexion (bending movement around the joint) and adduction (movement of the arm towards the midline). There are other muscles involved in performing flexion and adduction but the coracobrachialis muscle also plays an important supporting role in these functions.

Where does the Coracobrachialis Pain or Strain Happen?

Coracobrachialis is a major shoulder muscle that helps in the movement of arms. If Coracobrachialis muscle is strained a person can experience pain both at the front portion of the shoulder and the back of upper arm and forearm. The trigger points at the Coracobrachialis muscle can result in pain right at the location and it can be sent to other apparently unconnected area of the body.

Symptoms of Coracobrachialis Pain or Strain

Symptoms of Coracobrachialis Pain or Strain

A person suffering from a light case of Coracobrachialis pain or strain in the arm initially feels tenderness in the area. As the condition become severe the person can experience sudden shooting pain in the muscle. When the Coracobrachialis pain or strain gets worse, the person can experience a violent snap after which bending the elbow becomes very restrictive and this stage is referred to as total rupture of Coracobrachialis.

Pain when pressure is applied, restriction in stretching the arm and difficulty in bending the elbow are common symptoms associated with Coracobrachialis pain or strain. Some of the typical symptoms associated with Coracobrachialis pain in the arm include –

  • Trouble in bending the elbow is a common symptom of Coracobrachialis pain or strain.
  • Pain at the lower arm’s back
  • Pain in arm when raised overhead
  • Pain at the back region of the upper arm
  • Pain in arm while putting hand behind the back is also one of the symptom of Coracobrachialis pain or strain.
  • Pain in the back of the hand extending to the middle finger
  • Pain at the front area of the upper arm just about the shoulder joint

Causes of Coracobrachialis Pain or Strain

The coracobrachialis muscle is an important muscle required for freely moving the arm. One of the major reasons for Coracobrachialis pain in the arm is overusing the muscle which can lead to soreness and stiffness in the arm. Common cause of injury to Coracobrachialis muscle resulting in pain or strain includes –

  • Chest workout
  • Sudden heavy workload on the muscle
  • Simultaneously contracting and stretching the muscle

Activities like throwing a tennis ball, rock climbing, pushups and lifting weight etc, if done regularly can also strain the Coracobrachialis muscle and result in pain. Coracobrachialis pain or strain caused by sudden rupture of the muscle is extremely painful. It is important to avoid workouts that can put strain leading to muscle rupture. Most of the Coracobrachialis ruptures are partial and usually occurs if the muscle is stretched and contracted at the same time in full force. Full rupture of the muscle is usually seen in elderly person at the shoulder joint’s bicep tendon or at the elbow’s tendon fastening.

Treatment of Coracobrachialis Pain or Strain in Arm

Coracobrachialis pain or strain can be very painful and severely restricts a person from doing their daily work. The treatment for coracobrachialis muscle pain or strain includes:

  • Exercises: Physical workout and specific exercise for the Coracobrachialis pain or strain is a great way of treating the condition. Consult with the doctor or physiotherapist to find out what exercises need to be done to get immediate relief.
  • Hot & Cold Gel Therapy: Apart from the workouts there are a number of warm and cold therapy gels and shoulder therapy wraps that helps in giving relief from Coracobrachialis pain or strain. Consulting a health practitioner is good before selecting any type of gels and therapy wrap for the pain.

The cold gel can be used for new and recent injuries, it works like an ice pack by providing relief and lessening the swelling associated with strained Coracobrachialis. Hot gel provides warmth to the injured area without burning. The gel also provides relief to post-injury pain, stiffness in muscles and chronic arthritis pain.

Shoulder wraps are great for Coracobrachialis pain or strain as it covers the entire muscle and helps in relieving the pain. Patients must consult the health practitioner and choose the method that is best suited to their type of Coracobrachialis pain in the arm.

Exercise to Relieve Coracobrachialis Pain

There are many exercises that give relief to those suffering from Coracobrachialis Pain in the arm. Consult with the health practitioner and they will recommend the type of exercises to cure this painful condition.

  • Coracobrachialis Stretch: Simply stretching at the Coracobrachialis muscle puts the shoulder at a better position and the body in an enhanced posture to help in relieving any minor discomfort, niggle or stiffness in the muscle. This exercise involves standing straight and then raising the arm to one side and take it back about 45 degrees for a few seconds. The same procedure must be repeated on the other arm.
  • Coracobrachialis Intensified Stretch: To get an intense stretch, turn in your hand so that your wrist is straight. Now take your hand up to the side and take it back about 45 degrees. You will get a more intense stretch at the back of the hand around the triceps and also the biceps.
  • Cable Chest Fly Exercise for Coracobrachialis Pain in the Arm: In this exercise, pulleys are set on a dual cable column machine in the lowest setting. The person must stand midway between the pulleys in front. Taking a handle in each hands, both hands should be brought together in front of the chest while the keeping the arm straight and drawn in an inverted V position. This should be finished with the palms up and slightly turned in and then take the arms down out to the starting position without locking the elbows.

There are also self-massaging techniques that can provide relief to those suffering from pain of the Coracobrachialis muscles.

  • Self-Massage for Coracobrachialis Pain or Strain: For this, the person is first required to identify the exact area where the pain is. Once that is done place the thumb and run along the area to find the tender spots that needs to be rubbed. While massaging the affected area, care should be taken to stay on the muscle. It will be better to learn this self-massaging technique from a health professional so that it is done properly. If done in the right way, these simple exercises can provide quick relief from the pain and give back some mobility to the arm.


Coracobrachialis pain or strain is a muscle joint pain that demands regular exercises to fight it. For this purpose, consulting a right physiotherapist who possesses skills to cure it with combination therapy and joint toning exercises is mandatory. By following the proper schedule of exercise and rest, a person can overcome the pain quite fast and easily.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:January 22, 2019

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