The elbow is a hinge joint formed by the humerus of the upper arm and radius and ulna of the lower arm. The elbow allows bending and straightening motions as well as rotation of the forearm and wrist.
It is common to have referred pain from an elbow problem which can sometimes radiate down into the forearm, although usually not into the hand. Pain locations can vary and you may find it is sore to press over certain areas on either the inside or outside of the elbow. Wrist movements, gripping and twisting motions are also often painful. This can often be due to a overload of soft tissue structures or repetitive strain.
If you have had significant injury or a fall on to your elbow and have a significant loss of movement do seek medical attention as you may need an X-Ray.
What can I do to help?
Simple pain relief (paracetamol) or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (like ibuprofen) are available over the counter and can be very effective for dealing with musculoskeletal pain in the first instance. If you are currently taking any form of medication it is advisable to consult your GP or pharmacist before taking pain relief.
Ice or heat
If your elbow is painful then applying an ice pack, or heat can be helpful. This can be repeated several times a day as long as your skin is not irritated.
Reducing the strain on your elbow
It is usually best to carry out your normal activities, but try not to overdo it. You need to pace yourself to start with and try to do a bit more each day. Offloading braces can help to relieve pain.
Rest or Exercise
Aim for a balance between rest and exercise to prevent your elbow from stiffening up. Try to avoid the movements that are most painful, especially those that are repetitive. However, it’s important to remain active even if you have to limit how much you do.
Physiotherapy can help by establishing the structures causing your pain and treating them accordingly. This may include manual or soft tissue techniques (hands on) taping and always an exercise plan for home. Ergonomic assessment can be valuable to establish why you may be developing pain from your working postures/activities.