Why do we get Elbow Pain?
The elbow joint is formed from the humerus, which is in the upper arm, and two long bones called the ulna and radius in the lower arm. The joint can end and straighten but also facilitates the rotation of the forearm (turns palm up and down!).
The muscles of the arm, forearm and hand attach to the elbow through tendons and it is these that are most commonly injured.
All about Elbow Pain
Causes of Elbow Pain
Repetitive movementsMany sports and jobs involve lots of repetitive movements which can overwork the muscles and sometimes cause damage to the tendons; these become inflamed and you feel pain.
TraumaTrauma can cause elbow pain e.g. falling onto an outstretched arm or knocking the elbow and causing a bursitis. Bursitis is an inflammation of the fluid-filled joint cushions called bursae.
Tennis ElbowTennis Elbow, also known clinically as lateral epicondylitis presents with pain on the outside of the elbow. This pain is usually aggravated by repetitive twisting, bending and straightening the elbow and opening the fingers.
Golfers ElbowGolfers Elbow, also known as medial epicondylitis, presents with pain on the inside of the elbow. Whilst not as well known as Tennis Elbow it is also caused by repetitive movements such as gripping, twisting and bending the elbow. It sometimes has tingling or numbness in the fingers (usually the ring and little fingers).
Symptoms of Elbow Pain
Typical symptoms of Elbow Pain include joint pain, stiffness, swelling, or difficulty moving the affected area. Pain in the muscles around the elbow can radiate down to the wrist hand and fingers.
Sometimes pain felt in the elbow can be due to a neck problem, even if you don't feel pain in your neck. This condition often causes pain like pins and needles, sharp, hot or burning pain. See our Neck Pain page for more advice.
Elbow Pain Treatment and Relief
ICE! Holding a cold compress, such as a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a towel, against your elbow for a few minutes several times a day can help ease the pain.
Watch the PBG information class on Elbow Pain then try the QuickFix exercise class to learn how to stretch and strengthen your elbow, to improve function.
Free Class: Quick Fix for Elbow Pain
If you suspect tennis or golfers elbow try to thicken your grips - this simple act can prevent over gripping and ease the stress into the forearm muscles and elbow.
If you spend a lot of time using a computer mouse try an upright mouse instead.
Contact your healthcare provider if:
- Your elbow is hot, swollen or tender, especially if you can't recall an injury.
- There has been new, significant trauma within the last 7 days, for example a fall from height or direct blow to the elbow.
- You have red, hot, or swollen fingers.
- Your elbow is misshapen following a new injury.
- You can’t move your elbow at all.