Elbow Pain (new)

What is Elbow Pain?

The elbow joint is where the long bone at the top of your arm, known as the humerus, meets the two bones in your forearm – called the radius and the ulna. It’s a hinge joint, which allows you to bend your arm. The upper part of the radius can rotate so you can twist your forearm.


Elbow pain is often caused by overuse or repetitive motions. Many sports, hobbies and jobs require repetitive hand, wrist or arm movements. Elbow pain may occasionally be due to arthritis, but your elbow joint is generally less prone to wear-and-tear than many other joints.


Most elbow pain has a straightforward cause and clears up within a few days. The pain usually comes from strained or inflamed connective tissue such as tendons. Normally, elbow pain can be treated conservatively with painkillers and a few days’ rest.


It’s important, however, not to rest for too long as lack of movement can cause the joint to stiffen and the muscles around the elbow to weaken, which increases the chance of further symptoms. Simple exercises are recommended to reduce the risk of future problems.

an digital drawing of an arm displaying some parts of elbow

Symptoms of Elbow Pain

    • Dull ache when at rest

    • Pain when making a fist (golfer’s elbow)

    • Pain when opening the fingers (tennis elbow)

    • Soreness around the affected elbow bump

    • Weak grip

    • Difficulties and pain when trying to grasp objects, especially with the arm stretched

Most cases of elbow pain are due to strained or inflamed soft tissues such as tendons or ligaments. These tend to get better after a few days with simple self-care you can do at home. Sometimes elbow pain may be caused by a medical condition.

Stiffness can happen due to problems with the elbow joint itself or with the muscles, covering of the joint, or ligaments. In some situations, such as after an injury or operation, soft tissue can form into scar tissue.

A number of things can cause stiffness in your elbow, including arthritis. Arthritis can cause joint pain and swelling.

Arthritis of the Elbow

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. It starts with the loss of cartilage, which is a thin protective layer that covers bones in a joint. In response the body can grow bony spurs within the joint and there can be an increase of fluid in the joint space. This can happen without you feeling any symptoms. But it can cause pain, swelling and stiffness in a joint.

Osteoarthritis is not very common in the elbow unless you’ve other injuries in the past, for example if you’ve previously broken a bone.

The following types of arthritis can also affect the elbow:

An autoimmune condition that can cause pain and swelling in joints. Joints can be red, hot, stiff and tender to touch. Autoimmune conditions are caused when your immune system, which normally protects you from illness and infection, gets confused and mistakenly attacks the body’s healthy tissue.

An autoimmune condition associated with the skin condition psoriasis, that causes patches of red, raised skin with white or silvery flakes. It can cause pain and swelling in and around joints.

A type of arthritis that causes pain and swelling in joints. It’s caused by a build-up of crystals of the waste product urate in the joints. Affected joints can be very painful, and the skin can sometimes be red and shiny.

Other Common Causes

How can Balance Core help?

We strive to provide an accurate diagnosis and manage any pain with effective treatments. We believe that a systematic review of posture, body alignment, movement pattern and habit is key to identifying the root cause of pain and discomfort.


Our physiotherapists are highly trained in manual palpation and observation to pinpoint sources of discomfort. This allows us to minimise the symptoms of our patients in just a few sessions. We also empower them to continue managing their conditions with a targeted treatment program.


Some treatment options for elbow pain include:

Steroid Injections

Corticosteroid injections can ease pain and swelling, and may reduce acute or chronic inflammation by stimulating healing of tissues and promote better growth of new cells.

Pain Relievers

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) combined with an ice pack can help to ease pain and swelling.


Research has shown that certain types of exercises can help to reduce pain and improve the condition of people with tennis elbow.

Ultrasound Therapy

The use of sound waves is known to help with various elbow injuries (such as tennis elbow) by improving blood flow and stimulating a healing response from damaged tissues.

* Do note that not all of the treatment options listed are appropriate for every condition.

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