The coracobrachialis is a muscle of the shoulder joint and one of three muscles that make up the anterior compartment of your upper arm. As its name suggests, it originates from the tip of the coracoid process of the scapula and inserts into the medial surface of the humeral shaft.
Both the humerus and the coracobrachialis form the lateral border of the axilla. It is in this area where the muscle is easiest to palpate. The two major functions of the coracobrachialis are shoulder flexion and adduction (i.e. movement of the arm towards the midline). Nerve supply is via the musculocutaneous which penetrates the muscle in the middle.
Coracobrachialis Pain or Strain
Coracobrachialis pain is felt at the upper and middle portion of the arm. Rupture or strain of this muscle can also cause pain in the anterior section of the shoulder and at the back of the arm.
People experiencing tightness and tenderness of the coracobrachialis also deal with problems in the other muscles that work together with it. Overuse can also cause severe pain when raising the arm and other movements at the shoulder joint.
When the pain or strain gets worse, you may experience a ‘snap’ after which elbow flexion becomes very restricted. At this point, the coracobrachialis is most likely ruptured.
Pain when pressure is applied, difficulty in flexing the elbow, and restriction in stretching the arm are the most common symptoms of coracobrachialis pain or strain. Other symptoms include the following:
- Pain when the arm is raised overhead
- Pain in the arm when placing the hand behind the back
- Pain in the back of the hand that extends to the middle finger
Causes of the Pain or Strain
Overuse of the coracobrachialis is one of the major causes of pain, which typically leads to stiffness and soreness in the arm and shoulder. As for injury to the muscle, the common causes include intense chest workout, sudden heavy workload, and simultaneous contraction and stretching.
Activities like weight lifting, pushups, rock climbing, etc, when performed regularly can also cause strain to the coracobrachialis and subsequently result in pain. Try to avoid workouts or exercises that put strain and could rupture this long, slender muscle. You don’t want this to happen because it’s extremely painful!
Majority of coracobrachialis ruptures are partial and often occur if the muscle is contracted and stretched simultaneously in full force. Complete rupture is typically seen in elderly individuals at the biceps tendon in the shoulder joint.
Treatment of Coracobrachialis Pain or Strain
As aforementioned, the pain or strain can be extreme and can severely restrict you from going about your daily routine. Fortunately, there are simple treatments and exercises that can provide relief:
- Hot and Cold Gel Therapy – There are several hot and cold therapy gels as well as shoulder therapy wraps that can effectively ease the pain or strain. It would be best if you consult a physician before buying any kind of gel or wrap.
Cold gels are generally used for new or acute injuries, and they work by reducing the pain and swelling that typically accompany a strained coracobrachialis muscle. Low temperature causes blood vessels to constrict, thus lessening the inflammation and also providing analgesia.
On the other hand, hot gels are used for chronic affectations (i.e. 3-5 days or longer). The gels deliver warmth which causes blood vessels to dilate. This in turn provides relief to post-injury pain and stiffness.
- Exercises: Workout and specific exercises that target the coracobrachialis are highly effective in easing the pain. But then again, it is advisable to consult your doctor or physical therapist so they can recommend the type of exercises that will work best in your particular condition.
Here are some of the exercises that may be considered:
Cable Chest Fly
This exercise involves the use of pulleys mounted on a dual cable column machine. You will stand between the pulleys with a handle in each hand. Bring both hands together in front of your chest while keeping your arms straight and placed in an inverted V position. You need to do this with your palms supinated and slightly turned in. Next, turn your arms down and return to the starting position without locking your elbows.
Wrap a band around your elbow crease, then move into a position where the band is pulling your elbow back and out at a 45-degree angle. Your scapula must be stable, in neutral position, meaning not too low and not too high. Too low is worse than too high though. Your forearm is supinated and your hand open.
Remember that the coracobrachialis is a humeral flexor and adductor. Therefore you must perform the action of flexion and adduction (i.e. a movement in diagonal direction). Point your hand toward the opposing eye. A common error is to move the upper arm with excessive internal rotation and/or adduction (i.e. toward the opposite ear rather than the eye. The movement must be more flexion-oriented than horizontal adduction.
Stretching the muscle puts your shoulder at a better position to help in relieving pain, discomfort, or stiffness. To do the stretch, stand straight and then raise your arm to one side then take it back approximately 45 degrees for a few seconds. Repeat the procedure for your other arm.
Turn in your hand so your wrist is straight, then take your hand up to the side and take it back approximately 45 degrees. You’ll feel a more intense stretch at the back of your hand around the biceps and triceps.
Coracobrachialis pain or strain requires regular exercises to achieve significant relief. For this purpose, seeking the advice of a physician or physiotherapist who has the knowledge and skills to treat it with therapy and joint exercises is imperative. By strictly following the exercise schedule, you can overcome the pain in a manner that is fast, easy and effective.
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.