What causes elbow pain?

A strained or inflamed soft tissue, such as a tendon or ligament, is usually responsible for elbow pain.  You can take care of these at home within a few days with simple self-care. Medical conditions can sometimes cause elbow pain. You can develop stiffness in your elbow due to a number of factors, including arthritis. Various types of arthritis cause painful and swollen joints.

There are several factors that can cause elbow joint stiffness, including problems with muscles, tendon coverings, and ligaments. As a result of injury or operation, soft tissue may become scarred. The elbow may become stiff as a result. A locked elbow may occur occasionally. It is usually short-lived, but may be caused by a loose piece of bone or cartilage in the joint. A surgery may be required to remove loose fragments.


Simple self-help techniques and a few days’ rest can often relieve elbow pain.

Those with soft-tissue conditions like tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow should stop the activity that triggered them in the first place. You should notice a dramatic improvement in your symptoms.

Other therapies and treatments may be recommended by your doctor if you have a complex or persistent problem.


You probably won’t need to have any special tests to diagnose and treat elbow problems. Most elbow problems can be treated with just a simple examination.

If there is any new bone growth, any loose pieces of bone, or any arthritis, then your doctor may recommend that you undergo an X-ray.

An ultrasound scan or MRI scan may very rarely be required to clarify a diagnosis.

It involves placing a small device on the skin to conduct an ultrasound scan. The sound waves that travel through the body create an image of its interior.

The body is imaged via magnetic fields and radio waves when someone is having an MRI scan, so they need to lie in a large tube.

Nerve conduction tests may be necessary if you suffer from nerve problems. Your skin is stimulated with small electrodes. In order to measure the amount of pressure on the nerve, this test measures the rate at which messages are transmitted, and the length of time the messages are delayed.

Elbow pain exercises

In some cases, exercise can help you recover from elbow pain and prevent a recurrence.

Exercises may help to:

  • reduce inflammation
  • relieve pain
  • strengthen muscles of the joint to prevent future injury
  • increase range of motion
  • Exercises for pain relief

People with tennis elbow can reduce pain and enhance outcomes with these types of exercises:

With eccentric exercises, your muscles will lengthen under tension. Researchers found that these exercises reduced pain in tennis elbow sufferers. Tennis elbow pain may be reduced by hand extensor strengthening.

Isometric exercises involve tensing up and contracting muscles without moving them consciously. Tennis elbow pain was reduced by isometric wrist extension exercises, according to a recent study. The condition may not be improved by this exercise alone.

Static stretching has been shown to be most effective for treatment and pain relief when combined with eccentric exercises.

There is evidence that strength training and aquatic exercises can reduce the pain associated with osteoarthritis. There is however still a need to research exercises that help reduce the pain associated with elbow osteoarthritis.

Heat or ice packs

The pain and stiffness of your elbow can be relieved by applying heat or ice to it every so often. Microwaveable wheat bags or hot water bottles can be used as reusable pads. If you do not have an ice pack, a frozen bag of peas can also be useful.

Do not put either an ice pack or a heat pack on your skin directly, as this could irritate it or burn it. A tea towel would be a good idea to wrap them in first.

The warming effect of heat helps to ease stiffness, aid in tissue recovery, and soothe the pain. In the case of injured elbows or swollen ones, you shouldn’t apply heat, as this could make it worse.

Reduced blood flow can reduce swelling in parts of the body when ice is applied.

Heat and ice alternated throughout the day can sometimes provide relief. Test out different approaches to see what works for you.