What Is Causing My Elbow Pain
Posted on October 20th, 2022 by Orthopaedic Specialty Group
Elbows handle a lot of movement and pressure daily, from lifting and throwing to hugging and more. Elbows are formed where three bones in the arm meet: the humerus, ulna, and radius. Because they are complex, elbows have a high risk of injury and pain.
The Bottom Line On Elbow Pain
Most of the time, elbow pain is caused by adding too much weight, too many reps, or too many sets too quickly.
Its that simple.
On the plus side, though, the solution is equally simplerest.
You dont want to just stop lifting weights right away, though. Instead, you want to modify your training plan so that you can work around your injury.
There are just four steps:
If that doesnt help or if you want to speed up results, then its worth improving your upper body mobility, seeing a physical therapist, and, if you feel so inclined, trying a few supplements.
Do that, and chances are good youll be back in the gym in a few weeks.
How To Treat And Relief Post
Elbow pain after lifting is an acute inflammatory condition. If your elbow hurts after lifting, and you experience any of the following:
- Burning pain around the elbow joint
- A sensation of heat, redness, or swelling around the elbow joint
- Pain when bending and straightening the arm after lifting
The best treatment is the R.I.C.E. Method .
Benefits of RICE Method
R.I.C.E helps treat acute inflammatory pain. Athletes and weight lifters with elbow inflammation experience burning pain and redness around the elbow joint after lifting. Applying ice, also known as cold therapy, on the elbow after working out reduce inflammation and help the inflamed elbow tendon calm down and heal.
Illustration of a man applying an ice pack to elbow joint to reduce tender pain in elbow – R.I.C.E Method
How to Apply Cold Therapy for Elbow Pain at Home
Limitations of the RICE Method
Nurudeen wearing elbow sleeves while performing bench press at gym
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Exercise Therapy For Forearm Pain During Lifting Activities:
After following the RICE principle for the 2- 3 days at home & primary treatment & the help of pain medication, you feel released from the pain.
When you feel too comfortable & release from your muscle pain then the physiotherapist is advised to you exercise therapy reduce to muscle weakness & tightness.
The exercise therapy for muscle pain includes stretching & strengthening exercises.
Stretching exercise helps to relieve muscle tightness as well as strengthening exercise is help you relieve muscle weakness.
After the follow of electrotherapy for 2-3 days for release to muscle pain by the physiotherapist then the therapist is advised to stretch for release to muscle tightness.This stretching is applied when your pain is released & when you feel comfortable.
- You are in a sitting or standing position for this stretching.
- You are holding the arm out parallel to the ground & extend from the shoulder joint.
- Then turn the hand so it is facing downward.
- Try to use the opposite hand which pulls the outstretched hand down & toward the body.
- Bending the wrist joint & feeling a stretch on top of the hand & forearm.
- After that slightly rotate the arm inward to feel a further stretch.
- Hold this stretching position for 30 seconds.
- Do this stretching exercise 3 times in 1 session & perform the 3 sessions daily.
Forearm flexor stretch:
Forearm flexor stretch
Two-arm forearm stretch:
Praying forearm stretch
What Are Symptoms Of Tennis Elbow
If you have tennis elbow, the pain usually worsens gradually. The outside of your elbow will feel sore, tender, weak, and maybe even hot and swollen, says Dr. Popozitz. The pain might also spread to your forearm when you stretch.
You might also notice a reduction in your grip strength, as well as an increase in pain when you use your grip, like if your grabbing a racquet, a tool, or a heavy weight at the gym, or even just shaking someone’s hand. Because tennis elbow pain tends to flare up during repetitive arm, wrist, and elbow work, you may notice it hurts if you do lots of sets of bicep curls.
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Treatment For Elbow Pain
- exercises prescribed by your physiotherapist to gradually strengthen the tendons
- soft tissue massage
- taping or bracing your elbow
- anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving medication can help you cope with the pain, but do not improve long-term outcomes
- surgery in severe cases, and if pain has not resolved within 12 months.
Make Sure Your Hands Wrists Forearms And Elbows Stay In Line
Like I keep saying, these elbow injuries are less about what the actual elbow joint itself is doing and more about whats happening to the tendons and muscles that happen to attach at the elbow as a result of what the hands, wrists and forearms are doing.
For this reason, you want to make sure everything stays in line right behind the other in relation to the line of resistance.
Hand wrist forearm elbow.
Let me show you a few examples of what Im talking about using screenshots from random YouTube videos with the seated cable row being our example exercise
With the help of my beautifully drawn red line , Id like you to compare the alignment of this dudes hand, wrist, forearm and elbow to the alignment of the hand/wrist/forearm/elbow of the guy below
Can you spot the difference? The second guy has it right.
Now why does what you see in the first picture happen? Sometimes its just bad form a person using a line of pull that doesnt suit the grip or equipment being used. For example, just compare the angle of the cable itself in both of these pictures. The first guys cable is on an angle , while the second guys cable is perfectly straight.
But sometimes this sort of thing happens just as a result of using shitty equipment. For example
My old gym had a few just like this. They suck.
Its a completely different type of movement than something like a seated cable row, but its the exact problem.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Forearm Pain During Lifting Activities
- Due to this pain, you feel muscle weakness in the forearm.
- You are also observed to have warmth, redness & swelling in the area of pain.
- Also reduced mobility means a range of motion = ROM of the elbow & wrist joint.
- Sometimes you also feel the whole upper limb pain.
- Tenderness & trigger points are also present in an area of pain.
- Sometimes present to Visible deformity of the elbow & wrist joint.
Elbow Pain Treatment #4
Reducing inflammation is just one more reason you should be supplementing with Omega-3s or fish oil. This can help with the reduction of swelling and formation of scar tissue in your elbows.
The other option would be to get more Omega-3s in your diet from fish, walnuts, flax seeds and chia seeds. Sprinkling flax or chia on your breakfast or salads is a simple way to make sure you are getting them in daily as fish isnt always the easiest option.
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Wear And Tear Injuries
Other injuries will appear and worsen over time due to repeated actions, resulting in the following:
- Bursitis Bursa are small fluid sacs that cushion the bodys joints, bones, muscles, and tendons. When they become inflamed, bursitis occurs, usually due to repetitive motions.
- Trapped nerves Similar to carpal tunnel syndrome in the hands and wrists, nerves can get trapped and squeezed in the elbow, causing numbness, tingling, and pain.
- Tennis elbow or golfers elbow Getting their name from the frequency at which tennis and golf players are diagnosed with this condition, tennis and golfers elbow are both types of tendinopathy and tendinosis, meaning the tendons around the elbow are damaged due to overuse. Tennis elbow affects the outside of the elbow, while golfers elbow affects the inside.
Can You Get Tennis Elbow From Lifting Weights
Elbow pain shouldnt be a regular occurrence while lifting weights. Its important to not only identify the source of your pain, but also to treat it as soon as possible. If you experience pain or tennis elbow from lifting weights, you need an experienced orthopedic specialist in Dallas to help. Medical professionals who often treat sports injuries and overuse injuries are best suited to meet your needs.
At SPORT Orthopedics and Physical Therapy, we prioritize comfort and fast recoveries for our patients. If you live an active lifestyle, you probably dont want to be restricted and recovering for longer than necessary. Thats why its important to contact SPORT as soon as possible. Our Dallas physical therapists and orthopedic doctors have the knowledge and experience to treat a wide range of conditions. To schedule an appointment with an elbow specialist, please call or fill out our online intake form today.
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What Causes Tennis Elbow
Overuse causes most cases of tennis elbow. It occurs when repeated movements cause swelling and pain in your joint and tendons. Any type of repeated motion or stress on the tendons can cause it. Playing tennis is only one of the ways you can get tennis elbow. People who play other racquet sports, such as racquetball or squash, and fencing are at risk. Certain jobs can lead to tennis elbow. Examples include painters, butchers, carpenters, musicians, manicurists, and dentists. People who work on an assembly line or use computers are at risk as well.
In some cases, the tendons can swell after a direct blow to the elbow. In other cases, the condition isnt related to an activity at all.
Tennis elbow can occur at any age. It is most common in people 30 to 50 years of age. It affects both men and women.
Can I Continue To Lift With Elbow Pain
Like any sport, no one wants to rest when theyre injured. In fact, most lifters wont even consider elbow pain an injury. However, this annoying pain will get worse if left untreated. The great news is that you dont have to quit lifting completely. You should, however, treat your elbow pain with some respect.
The first key is to recognize this type of pain early. Tendonitis usually presents itself as pain near the bony prominence of either side of your elbow. It is often tender to the touch and generally increases when you pinch or grip objects. During the first three weeks, this is truly an inflammatory problem, meaning it should respond well to things that help reduce inflammation. So, icing often can help the issue.
The second key of lifting with elbow pain is to reduce the stress on the tendons while they recover. We recommend reducing the stress on these tendons by using two types of devices. First, lifting straps rap around the bar or dumbbell and allow you to still lift, but with less grip force produced, thus less strain on the tendon. Second, a tendon off-loading strap would be worn around the forearm muscles when lifting. These assistive devices will often allow you to lift, while resting the aggravated part of the tendon.
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Quick Fixes For Aching Elbows
Rest, heat, stretching, and bracing are effective ways to find relief right now.
The elbow is a funny joint. It is home to your funny boneyour ulnar nervewhich hurts if it’s hit a certain way. And the elbow is often overlooked as an important joint to help us maintain our independence. Many older adults may not think much about the elbow, because it’s not a weight-bearing joint and because it doesn’t often develop arthritis or require joint replacement in the older adult population. But elbow pain can keep you from getting dressed, cooking dinner, and anything else that requires the use of your arm. Taking care of this joint helps ensure that you can care for yourself.
Tennis Elbow And Golfers Elbow Treatments
Unlike a Tommy John injury or traumatic injuries that require elbow replacement surgery, tennis elbow and golfers elbow typically only require non-surgical treatments and physical therapy. Ice, rest, anti-inflammatory medications and changes to repetitive stress movements are usually enough to treat tennis elbow and golfers elbow.
If, however, your elbow pain does not subside in 6 to 12 months with rest and therapy, you should consult your orthopedic elbow specialist for steroidal or surgical options. While tennis elbow surgery and golfers elbow surgery are not common, severe injuries may require arthroscopic elbow surgery.
If you are experiencing elbow pain and have questions for our orthopedic specialist, please contact us. Were happy to assist you in any way we can or schedule a consultation with our hand, elbow and wrist specialist.
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How To Prevent Elbow Pain When Lifting
No matter which activity youre doing, if it puts some form of strain on your body, youre risking your physical health. If youre not approaching it in the correct way, youre bound to give yourself an injury, and that applies to weight lifting especially.
If youre going to prevent injuries while lifting, you need to be sure youre lifting with the proper form. The weight of the object youre trying to lift shouldnt all be being put onto your elbows, or your back. You need to properly distribute that weight, or else youre going to be straining some part of your body.
You should also be sure that youre warmed up, and not lifting above your limits. If you cant lift something, keep working hard and come back to it when youre more ready to have another go at it.
The Best Way To Fix Inner Elbow Pain
Any athlete that trains hard for their sport may encounter some inner elbow pain at some point. The most common advice is to just stop lifting. But if you want to be a competitive athlete, you cant afford to not keep up your strength and conditioning. Its what gives you an edge. If you are a high school wrestler competing for the state title, you are not going to let a little elbow pain stop you from training and competing. Continue reading to learn how to continue training and reduce inner elbow pain at the same time.
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Elbow Pain Treatment #2
This goes along with #1 as it relates to the mobility of your upper extremities. If your elbows, wrists, and shoulders are tight you risk damaging the soft tissue around these joints .
In conjunction with foam rolling and SMR, it is a good idea to stretch these areas after improving the quality of the tissue.
One stretch I have become a huge fan of using with many of my clients is the elbow and wrist flexors stretch. You extend your elbow and wrist and gently use your opposite hand to pull them into greater extension.
Adjust Your Training Plan
In many cases, youll only notice elbow pain on certain exercises or variations of exercises.
For example, your elbow might hurt when you barbell bench press, but not when you dumbbell bench press.
If thats the case, then its fine to simply avoid the exercises that hurt until your elbow heals.
This is what people mean when they say theyre training around an injury.
Not only does this let you keep training, but researchshows that staying active will probably help your elbow heal faster .
Heres how to modify your plan while letting your elbow heal:
1. Replace whatever exercise makes your elbow hurt with a similar variation.
For example, if dumbbell rows hurt your elbow, try barbell or cable rows.
If overhead press is the problem, switch to dumbbell overhead press or incline press.
If high-bar squats hurt, then try low-bar squats.
Overuse injuries are usually caused by performing the same movement over and over, so making little adjustments like these is often all you need to give your elbows a break.
If that doesnt work
2. Stop doing all heavy compound upper body pressing exercises.
Heavy, compound pressing exercises like the bench press, dumbbell press, and overhead press tend to cause more elbow pain than pulling movements, and taking a break from these often helps.
Instead, do more accessory exercises like dumbbell flyes, cable accessories, or even machines. You can also replace some of your pressing workouts with pulling or leg workouts.
If that doesnt work
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When To See A Doctor About Your Elbow Pain
If you have tried these changes without seeing any relief over the course of several weeks, it is probably time to see a professional. That way you can get a proper diagnosis and be sure of exactly what you should do to fix it. Some problems, like tendinitis, may take up to 6 months to get completely better.
Your doctor may offer injections of steroid, anti-inflammatories, or Platelet Rich Plasma to help relieve the pain and speed healing. Or they may refer you to physical therapy for treatments like dry needling, soft tissue mobilization , cold laser, ultrasound or other methods to help heal the elbow. And in severe cases, surgery may be needed to get relief from pain.
If you live in Maryland, Virginia, or West Virginia and have persistent problems with your elbow pain while lifting please call my office for an evaluation and treatment!
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