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Elbow Pain: Definition, symptoms, causes & treatment

Team AckoJan 17, 2024

Elbow Pain (EP) is a common condition that refers to any discomfort or pain experienced in the elbow joint. It can range from mild aches to severe pain, and it may be caused by a variety of factors. This article provides you with an overview of this type of pain and also highlights the causes and treatment options.




What are the symptoms associated with Elbow Pain?

Elbow Pain can range from mild to severe and can be felt both at rest and during movement. Other than that, some other associated symptoms are as follows. 

  • Elbow Pain can also cause stiffness. Arm movement can be difficult and may result in decreased range of motion.

  • Inflammation in the elbow joint can cause swelling, which may be accompanied by redness and warmth in the affected area.

  • If the EP is caused by a nerve problem, you may experience numbness or tingling in the hand or fingers.

  • EP can also lead to weakness in the arm and hand, making it difficult to perform everyday tasks such as lifting or gripping objects.

  • Some people may experience clicking or popping sensations in the elbow joint when moving their arm.

  • In some cases, EP can cause the joint to lock, making it difficult to straighten or bend the arm.

What are the causes of Elbow Pain?

Here are some common causes of Elbow Pain.

  • A fracture or broken bone in the elbow can cause intense pain and swelling. This injury is often caused by a fall or a direct blow to the elbow.

  • Arthritis is a joint disorder that can affect any joint in the body, including the elbow. It can cause pain, stiffness, and swelling.

  • A tear in one of the ligaments that connect the bones in the elbow can cause pain, swelling, and instability in the joint.

  • Dislocation of the elbow occurs when the bones in the elbow joint are forced out of place, often due to a sudden impact or fall. This can cause severe pain and swelling, as well as limited mobility.

  • Tennis elbow is a common condition that results from overuse of the tendons in the elbow, typically caused by repetitive activities like playing tennis, painting, or typing. A golfer's elbow is an injury caused by stress in the tendons of the elbow, commonly seen in golfers, but also in other activities that require gripping and twisting of the wrist.

  • Radial tunnel syndrome is a condition that occurs when the radial nerve, which runs through the forearm and wrist, becomes compressed or irritated, leading to pain and weakness in the forearm and elbow.

Who is at risk of Elbow Pain?

This section highlights categories of people who are considered as high-risk when it comes to Elbow Pain. 

  • People who work in jobs that involve repetitive arm movements or heavy lifting, such as construction workers, mechanics, and assembly line workers, can be at risk of developing EP.

  • Athletes who engage in repetitive arm motions, such as tennis players, golfers, and weightlifters, are particularly susceptible to EP. This is because these activities put a lot of stress on the elbow joint, leading to overuse injuries like tennis elbow and golfer's elbow.

  • Individuals who have certain medical conditions, such as arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome, may experience EP as a symptom of their condition. 

  • People who have experienced a trauma or injury to the elbow joint, such as a dislocation or fracture, may also experience EP as a result.

Treatment of Elbow Pain

The treatment for Elbow Pain will depend on the underlying cause of the pain. Here are some general steps you can take to treat EP.

  • Rest the affected arm: If you're experiencing Elbow Pain, it's important to rest the affected arm as much as possible. This will help to reduce inflammation and allow the injured tissues to heal. Avoid activities that may aggravate the pain, such as heavy lifting or repetitive movements.

  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers: Follow the dosage instructions carefully and only take these medications as directed by your doctor.

  • Apply ice: Applying ice to the affected area can help to lower pain and swelling. 

  • Consult a therapist: Your doctor or physical therapist can recommend exercises that are appropriate for your condition.

  • Wear a brace or splint: Wearing a brace or splint can help to immobilise the affected joint and reduce pain. Your doctor can recommend the appropriate type of brace or splint for your condition.

  • Seek medical attention: If your Elbow Pain is severe, persistent, or accompanied by other symptoms, such as swelling, redness, or fever, it's important to seek medical attention. Your doctor can diagnose the underlying cause of your EP and recommend the appropriate treatment.

Recommendation: It's important to follow your doctor's advice and take steps to prevent further injury or damage to the affected joint.

Managing Elbow Pain

Here’s how you can manage Elbow Pain. 

  • Mind-body techniques: Meditation, deep breathing, and yoga can help reduce stress and promote relaxation, which in turn can help reduce pain and inflammation.

  • Nutrition: Eating a healthy, balanced diet can help reduce inflammation and promote healing. 

  • Ergonomics: Making sure your workstation and other daily activities are ergonomically sound can help reduce strain on the elbow joint and prevent further injury.

  • Massage therapy: Massage therapy can help improve circulation, reduce muscle tension, and promote relaxation, which can help reduce pain and inflammation.

  • Supplements: Certain supplements, such as omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, and glucosamine, may help reduce inflammation and promote joint health.

  • Heat therapy: Applying heat to the affected area can help improve circulation, reduce muscle tension, and promote healing.

It's important to remember that managing Elbow Pain requires a multi-faceted approach that addresses both the physical and emotional aspects of pain. Consult with a healthcare provider to determine the best course of action for your specific situation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here’s a list of common questions and answers related to Elbow Pain.


What are the common causes of Elbow Pain?

Elbow Pain can be caused by overuse, injury, arthritis, nerve compression, and bursitis.

How is Elbow Pain diagnosed?

EP can be diagnosed through a physical examination, medical history, and X-ray.

What are the treatment options for Elbow Pain?

Treatment options include rest, ice therapy, compression, elevation, physical therapy, medications, surgery, acupuncture, massage therapy, and lifestyle changes such as nutrition and ergonomics.

How long does it take for Elbow Pain to heal?

The healing time depends on the cause and severity of the injury. Mild cases may heal within a few weeks, while more severe cases may take several months or longer.

Can Elbow Pain be prevented?

Preventing EP involves maintaining good posture, using proper technique when lifting or performing other activities, wearing protective gear when participating in sports or other physical activities, and taking breaks and stretching during long periods of repetitive motions.

When should I see a doctor for Elbow Pain?

You should see a doctor if you experience severe pain, swelling, or numbness if the pain does not improve with rest and home remedies, or if you are unable to move your elbow or perform daily activities.


Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. Please consult a doctor before making any health-related decisions.


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