The Anatomy of the Brachioradialis Muscle

This muscle of your forearm helps to bend the elbow

In This Article

Your brachioradialis is a superficial muscle that travels down your lateral forearm from your elbow to your wrist. The muscle serves to bend, or flex, your elbow. It also assists with pronation and supination of your forearm. (Pronation and supination is the motion of turning your forearm and hand palm up and palm down.) The brachioradialis forms the lateral wall of the cubital fossa in your elbow.

Anatomy

The origin of the brachioradialis is the lateral supracondylar ridge of the humerus, or upper arm bone. It then travels down your forearm and inserts on the styloid process of your radius bone. The brachioradialis muscle is superficial and is easily seen and palpated. To touch the brachioradialis, simply bend your elbow up while your hand is in a neutral position (like holding a coffee cup). The large muscle protruding from your forearm is your brachioradialis.

You have two brachioradialis muscles, one in each forearm.

The nerve to the brachioradialis is the radial nerve, which arises from cervical levels five through seven and thoracic level one. The radial recurrent artery supplies blood to the brachioradialis muscle.

The cubital fossa of your elbow, also know as the "elbow pit", is bordered laterally by the brachioradialis muscle. The fossa contains structures such as the biceps brachii tendon, the median nerve, and the brachial artery.

Function

The brachioradialis muscle flexes your elbow joint. This is most powerful and active when your forearm is in a neutral position between pronation and supination. When your hand is turned palm down, the brachioradialis assists with supination, or turning your palm up. When your hand is palm up, it helps to turn your forearm over into a palm-down position.

The brachioradialis muscle is also a major stabilizer of the elbow, especially when the biceps and brachialis muscles are working to move the joint. When you are using a hammer, all three of those muscles are working, and the brachioradialis is active to help with this motion.

The brachioradialis muscle is interesting because its insertion is far away from the joint it moves. Most muscles insert close to the joint they move.

The long lever arm of the brachioradialis allows it to generate power, but it lacks the rapid smoothness of motion of other muscles.

Associated Conditions

There are several conditions that may cause pain or limited function of your brachioradialis. These may include:

  • Brachioradialis strain. A sudden force to your forearm or wrist may overload the brachioradialis, leading to mild or severe tearing of the muscle. When this happens, pain and swelling may be felt in your forearm, and it may hurt to move your arm normally.
  • Brachioradialis tendinitis. If you repetitively stress your brachioradialis muscle, such that may occur in activities like tennis or hammering, you may suffer from tendinitis. This may cause pain and swelling around your forearm.
  • Forearm weakness from cervical radiculopathy. A pinched nerve in your neck may cause forearm pain and weakness. This may affect your brachioradialis muscle and may make moving your arm and wrist difficult.
  • Avusion fracture of the brachioradialis tendon . A high-velocity force to your forearm may cause the brachioradialis tendon to break away from your radius bone, leading to an avulsion fracture. This fracture may cause pain, swelling, and bruising of your forearm. Nerve damage may also result ,leading to numbness and tingling in your arm and hand.

If you suspect you have any condition with your brachioradialis muscle, you must check in with your physician. They can give you an accurate diagnosis of your condition and can guide you in rehabbing your brachioradialis.

Rehabilitation

An injury to your brachioradialis may benefit from proper rehab to help get it moving again. Initial rehab may include using the R.I.C.E. principle: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. This helps to control the initial inflammatory response and can limit pain and swelling. Once things have settled down, you can begin rehabbing your brachioradialis. Various treatments are available.

Heat and Ice

Ice can be used on your forearm and brachioradialis to help control localized swelling, pain, and inflammation. Ice should be applied for 10 to 15 minutes. After a few days and the injury has healed, heat can be applied to promote blood flow and improve tissue mobility. Heat may be applied for 10 to 15 minutes several times each day. Care should be taken to avoid burns from heat or frost burns from ice.

Massage

There are several trigger points in your brachioradialis muscle, and you may benefit from massage to the area. Massage helps to decrease pain, improve blood flow, and improve tissue mobility.

Kinesiology Tape

Your physical therapist may recommend kinesiology taping for your brachioradialis muscle. The tape can be used to decrease pain, improve muscle function, or decrease spasm of the muscle after injury. Research about kinesiology taping is limited, as it is a newer treatment in rehab circles.

Neck Stretches

If a pinched nerve is causing your forearm pain, neck stretches and postural correction may be recommended. Stretches of your neck can help take pressure off spinal nerves, and postural correction can help prevent future problems with your neck and forearm.

Brachioradialis Strengthening

Strengthening of your brachioradialis can help improve its ability to manage loads that you may encounter. Several exercises can be done to strengthen the brachioradialis muscle. These include:

  • Hammer curls. Hold a dumbbell in your hand with your arm at your side. Keep your hand and wrist in a neutral position, and bend your elbow up as far as possible. Your hand position should look like you are holding a cup of water. Once your elbow is fully bent, slowly lower the weight down. Repeat the motion 10 to 15 times.
  • Forearm pronation. Hold a small dumbbell in your hand, and rest your forearm on a table with your palm up. Slowly turn your palm over until it is facing down. Hold this position for a few seconds, and then return to the starting position. Repeat 10 to 15 times.
  • Forearm supination. Hold a small dumbbell in your hand, and rest your forearm on a table with your palm facing down. Turn your palm over until it is facing up. Hold this position for a few seconds, and then return to the starting position. Repeat 10 to 15 times.

If any exercise for your brachioradialis causes pain, stop and check in with your physical therapist or physician.

Most injuries to the brachioradialis heal within six to eight weeks. Your recovery may be a bit longer or shorter depending on the nature of your injury. Be sure to work with your doctor to understand your specific course of rehab.

The brachioradialis is a strong muscle of your forearm that helps to bend your elbow. Injury here may cause pain, swelling, and limited use of your arm. Understanding the anatomy of the brachioradialis can help you fully recover after an injury here.

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Article Sources

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Marchant MH, Gambardella RA, Podesta L. Superficial radial nerve injury after avulsion fracture of the brachioradialis muscle origin in a professional lacrosse player: a case report. J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2009;18(6):e9-12.

Additional Reading

  • Kim JH, Hwang UJ, Jung SH, Gwak GT, Kwon OY. Immediate improvements of supination range of motion and strength following pronator teres muscle friction massage: a clinical trial comparing people with and without supination limited motion. J Man Manip Ther. 2019;27(2):109-114.