Elbow pain can be difficult to deal with on a daily basis. Simple, everyday tasks like lifting, carrying, and reaching can be harder and even excruciating. Add in athletic movement like throwing, swinging, weight-lifting, or catching, and the pain could be down right unbearable. Many people suffer from severe elbow pain without knowing what the underlying issue is. Knowing the source of the pain is the first step in healing. What’s causing the pain and what can be done about it? We’ll answer those questions here, and more. Elbow Pain?

Common Causes of Elbow Pain

Elbow pain can stem from a number of issues, likely having some connection to over-use. That means excessive use of the joint in repeated actions. Often times we call them repetitive motion injuries. Think about things you do everyday, all day long, or several times a day. These actions may contribute to the pain you feel in your elbow. Identifying these actions is the first step to healing.

Here are some of the top causes of elbow pain:

  • Bursitis : The inflammation of the fluid filled sac (bursa) at the elbow joint due to injury or over-use
  • Nerve Damage: This could be the inflammation or injury to the nerve either running along the inside or the outside of the elbow
  • Dislocation: The elbow joint “pops” out of place
  • Tendinitis: Inflammation of a tendon in the elbow
  • Arthritis: Inflammation and pain in the joint
    • Sometimes due to the wearing away of cartilage, creating a painful bone-on-bone grinding effect
  • Sprains and Strains: Injuries to the ligaments, tendons, or muscles at the elbow joint
  • “Tennis Elbow” and “Golfer’s Elbow”
    • In Tennis Elbow the tendons of the forearm muscles are overused and painful, on the outside of the elbow
    • In Golfer’s Elbow the tendons of the forearm muscles are overused and painful, on the inside of the elbowElbow Pain

Read more on Elbow Pain and its causes here.

What Can I Do to Ease the Pain?

The elbow pain from these conditions can range from a simple irritation to full blown, 10/10 pain with limited range of motion. The longer the symptoms go untreated, the more problematic the issue can become. Tasks that seemed simple become difficult and uncomfortable. Driving, shaking hands, holding a cup of coffee, turning door knobs, lifting and carrying grocery bags: all of these become painful and nearly impossible. This could risk further injury. If not treated right away, in the case of tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, tendonitis, or bursitis,  it can worsen to the point of immobility of the elbow. If therapy isn’t used and the surrounding muscles aren’t  strengthened and stretched, the joint will continue to face pain. If the condition continues down this path, many times surgery may be necessary for repair. It’s always best to avoid surgery if other means can be applied first. This includes physical therapy, strength training, and soft-tissue work.

So What’s Next?

If elbow pain continues to bother you and challenge every day activities, then you would benefit from customized physical therapy. There are several methods used in the treatment and pain management. Some of our treatments for elbow pain include: 830 Cold Laser Therapy, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, massage therapy, Active Isolated Stretching, and resistance training.  You can see a list of some of the elbow issues we treat on our Elbow Therapy page. We even have a specific Tennis Elbow Program. Our highly trained staff have treated hundreds of elbow injury cases. We are ready for you. Are you ready for us?

Are you ready to feel better? Contact us for appointments and information.

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-Written by Becca Chamberlain, LMT, RYT

About the Author Tim Burnell, PT

Tim Burnell is the Lead Physical Therapist at Back In Motion Sarasota. He has over two decades of clinical experience. He takes pride in getting to the root of the problem which helps get his clients better...Faster! He is a family man & enjoys spending time with the love of his life, Monique. He has 2 children & a dog named Annie. Tim's son, Andre' is 11 years old and his daughter Joliebelle (nicknamed Pooky) is 7 years old. He enjoys visiting his wife's side of the family in New Orleans and his side of the family in Vermont. Tim grew up in Vermont, went to Physical Therapy School in Alabama, got his first job at Tulane Hospital in New Orleans and moved to Sarasota Florida after Hurricane Katrina in 2006.

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