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Elbow pain affects up to 3% of the population, most commonly among 35-54 year olds¹
The elbow joint is where the humerus, the bone from the upper arm, meets the ulna and the radius, the two bones from the forearm. It’s a joint that moves up and down, from side to side and rotates. A joint with many different parts, and many different ways to cause pain.
There are many ways that the elbow can cause pain, but these causes fall into four main categories.
Individual injuries – A strain or a sprain, fracture or dislocation that might occur when playing sport. These injuries are common, often caused by overdoing it or from a fall. An injury like this is usually acute pain and once the injury has healed the pain will go away.
Wear and tear injuries – These injuries can also be caused by exercising but are just as likely to be repetitive strain injuries that come from a work setting. Common wear and tear injuries are:
Diseases – Although elbow pain is not usually the main symptom, many diseases can also cause pain around the joint. For example, arthritis, gout, lupus and Lyme disease.
When managing any type of pain, it’s advisable to keep doing gentle exercise with the affected body part so it doesn’t get stiff and seize up, becoming even more painful. There are two recommend exercises to relieve elbow pain:
Read more in our blog, 5 Elbow Pain Exercises for The Home.
It’s important not to overdo exercise like this. Start with a few repetitions, three times daily and build up. Stop if you feel sharp pain. If the pain doesn’t improve or gets worse, contact a medical professional.
Elbow pain is unquestionably uncomfortable. studies have shown that it can impact sleep, ability to use the hand and even impact mental health2. Thankfully, the causes of elbow pain are not usually serious. In addition to the recommended exercises, there are other things you can try at home to ease the pain.
If the pain is severe, feels tingly and you are feeling shivery and as though you have a temperature, don’t take the above steps and instead contact your doctor. Do likewise if your arm has changed shape or you have heard a snapping noise.
If your elbow pain is significant, your doctor may suggest physical therapy or steroid injections.