What is Elbow Pain?

When a person experiences pain in the elbow joint, the area where the humerus meets the radius and ulna, causing difficulty in movement and performing normal actions then he/she is said to have elbow pain. Elbow pain mostly occurs due to overuse or repeated pressure on the tendons near it, particularly if the tendons are close to the joint. Tennis elbow is the most common type of elbow pain. In most cases, you would be pleased to know that your elbow pain will get better. However, in extreme cases, medications or elbow pain treatments are recommended. In such cases, physiotherapy for elbow pain can also help to a great extent, improving mobility in the affected joint.

Causes of elbow pain

Though elbow pain is known to result from repetitive activities using the arm, there are many other causes known to lead to it. Some of these causes are as follows.

  1. lack of flexibility or strength in the forearm and/or shoulder muscles
  2. Unstable elbow joint
  3. Not putting to use the best practices while performing sporting activities like tennis and golf, which results in strain on the elbow joint
  4. Using sporting equipment that is inappropriate for you like playing with a heavy tennis racquet or cricket bat
  5. Repetitive movements of the hands and arms especially by doing work like in factories.
  6. Continuously carrying heavy loads, putting pressure on the arm muscles and joint
  7. Nerve irritation like the funny bone sensation
  8. Elbow arthritis
  9. Accidental falls that could cause injury to the tendons, ligaments in or around the elbow joint.

Symptoms of Elbow pain

Though you might not require to seek medical help for elbow pain. Yet, there are certain symptoms that you need to look out for, which could be a sign that you need to see a doctor. These symptoms are as follows-

  1. If pain in the elbow does not subside/improve even after two weeks of having medication.
  2. If you feel a weak, tingly, or numb sensation in your arm or hand.
  3. Severe pain in the elbow joint, accompanied by swelling, redness, heat, and/or fever.
  4. In case you have suffered a fracture. Patients with osteoporosis may suffer from fractures even from minor accidents and must seek immediate help from a doctor in such cases.
  5. If you are unable to move the elbow joint.
  6. A feeling of the elbow joint getting locked
  7. Hearing a grating sound when moving the elbow. This is most common in patients with osteoarthritis. Hence, medical help is recommended.

Diagnosis of elbow pain

A medical professional will diagnose your elbow pain by first asking about your medical history following which certain physical examinations are recommended. Some of the tests that are recommended by your doctor to determine the course of treatment are as follows-

  1. X- rays
  2. MRI scan
  3. Arthrogram testing
  4. Joint aspiration
  5. Elbow Abduction stress test
  6. Hook test
  7. Moving valgus stress test
  8. Middle finger test

Elbow pain treatment

When it comes to treating elbow pain, the good news is that it will heal on its own especially when you give it the rest that it needs, which can greatly speed the healing process. Other types of treatments that help to heal elbow pain are as follows-

  1. RICE therapy. This therapy translates to Rest, ice, compress, and elevate. This means to rest the affected elbow, ice it to reduce any swelling or pain, then compress it by wrapping the elbow with an elastic medical bandage, and then keep it elevated by using some pillows whenever you can.
  2. Use an elbow strap to reduce strain
  3. Taking physiotherapy for elbow pain by performing exercises to increase range of motion. Physiotherapy exercises will be recommended by your doctor if your muscles in the affected area are weak. These exercises will ensure that any type of stiffness in the elbow joint is reduced while also increasing flexibility.
  4. As part of the treatment, if the injury to the area is not much, your doctor may also prescribe pain killers or steroid injections to reduce pain and swelling temporarily.

Elbow pain Prevention

To prevent elbow pain from increasing or occurring at all while carrying out daily activities, here are some measures that you can take into account-

  • Perform exercises that can help you to strengthen your shoulders, arms, wrist, and back muscles. Additionally, you can also perform light stretching and range-of-motion exercises to avoid your elbow joint from getting stiff.
  • While carrying out daily tasks and activities, utilize the right techniques that can prevent your elbow from straining.
  • If you are into playing sports, ensure that you are using the right type of equipment to fit your abilities.
  • Try not to lean on your elbow for long periods of time.
  • Repeated arm actions cause the overuse of muscles close to the elbow joint. While doing such activities, try interchanging hands or taking some rest in between.
  • Even though an elbow sleeve or sling may be helpful to alleviate elbow pain, yet it is always recommended to talk to your doctor about it first. The reason being that overusing these support devices can result in stiffness and weakness in the joints.

HCAH is equipped with a team noteworthy and highly trained physiotherapists who have the expertise of providing the right method of treatment for whiplash injuries. To know more about our at-home physiotherapy services and treatments or to book an appointment, call 1800 102 4224 (toll-free).


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