How to Deal With Elbow Pain

Funny Bone

Have you ever heard someone say “I hit my funny bone?” The funny bone is not really a bone at all, it’s really the ulnar nerve. The ulnar nerve is a major nerve that runs through the arm. It is one of the main nerves responsible for movement and sensation in the forearm and the hand. It allows for hand movements like gripping, writing, typing and holding objects, all of which are necessary in day to day life.

Ulnar Nerve

The ulnar nerve travels through a small tunnel at the back of the elbow called the cubital tunnel. It is well protected but can get compressed at times. As a result it can cause cubital tunnel syndrome.  Carpal syndrome is a more commonly thought of problem. However carpal tunnel syndrome is a problem more associated with the wrist and hand. Cubital tunnel syndrome is entrapment of the nerve at the elbow.  When wanting to know:  “how to deal with elbow pain” its important to know the difference between cubital tunnel syndrome, golfers elbow and tennis elbow.

Physical Therapy patients with cubital tunnel syndrome experience tingling along the inner side of the forearm. Weakness in the hand muscles may contribute to dropping items, difficulty using a key or doorknob and pain along the inner side of the elbow.

Treatment of Elbow Pain

Diagnosing cubital tunnel syndrome

The Physical Therapists at Back in Motion can diagnose elbow pain. One of the main goals is teaching patients how to deal with elbow pain and have lasting results.  A series of tests are performed to identify restrictions in sensation and muscle strength. Additional tests may be required to determine the extent nerve and bone involvement.

Treatments of elbow pain

In the initial stages of the condition, pain and tingling occur due to constant irritation of the nerve. In some cases, the referring physician and physical therapist may decide that it’s best for the patient to use a brace. This protects the nerve, muscles and bones as they are healing. Also it minimizes  flare ups and inflammation which can contribute to long term problems. As symptoms reduce, therapy emphasizes an improvement in function with the following treatment:

  • 1. Flexibility exercises such as Range of Motion (ROM) to increase mobility without pain or discomfort. These movements should be gentle and progressive. Exercises to encourage intricate movements of the hand and movements such as twisting the forearm (pronation and supination) are emphasized.
  • 2. Progressive Strengthening exercises for different muscle groups. Examples include bending and straightening the elbow known as flexion and extension, rotation movements of the forearm known as pronation and supination, squeezing an object in the hand, and smaller objects between fingers.
  • 3. Gentle nerve stretching exercises to reduce compression and increase circulation to the nerve. Advanced techniques include massage, mobilizations and manual therapy under the expert supervision of the physical therapist.

Laser Therapy

In addition to the above listed Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy treatments, Back In Motion has a secret weapon when the question of how to deal with elbow pain arises. The ML830 Cold Laser (made by MicroLight) is designed to decrease pain, decrease inflammation and actually promote a healing process in the involved area.  The pain relief achieved while using our 830 nanometer wavelength laser won’t wear off like heat, ice or medications.  If you don’t re injure the area, the pain relief may be permanent.   Our clinic has certified therapists. Check out: for additional information regarding this revolutionary technology.

Visit Us Today

Back In Motion, Sarasota Physical Therapy helps restore and improve function by increasing motion in the elbow, reducing pain and strengthening the muscles in the hand. The first step is the reduction of pressure on the ulnar nerve within the cubital tunnel. The therapist will also help patients avoid activities that trigger pain and discomfort.  We are the experts on shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand pain.  If your are dealing with elbow pain, call us. This is a problem we deal with on a regular basis with a very high success rate.

Cubital tunnel syndrome can be a painful condition that can limit the ability to perform daily tasks. Physical therapists can offer simple solutions and exercises to increase joint movement while reducing pain and irritation of the ulnar nerve.

On behalf of our entire team at Back In Motion, Sarasota Physical Therapy, we want you to know that we are committed to helping you live a healthy, pain free life.

We always work closely with your physician and your insurance company to make sure you have the best care possible. Physical therapy will change your life. All you have to do is to give us a call.  We are in network participating providers with most insurances, including Medicare.  Be wary of other Physical Therapy clinics who tell you “Yes, we take your insurance”, because often they make take your insurance as an out of network provider which could end of costing you a bit more.

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.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}



Your first class is 100% free. Click the button below to get started!