Is it safe to continue working with elbow and wrist pain?

Therapeutic Associates
Elbow Pain

I started housecleaning professionally a month ago. Last week I developed pain in my elbow and wrist, due to heavy scrubbing. It subsided as I rested it. I worked last week using my left hand mostly. There is a burning in the muscle on the inside of my ulna that connects to the pinkie. I think it’s a flexor muscle. I have some numbness in the fingers. Am I safe to work next week? Any recommendation how to move forward so it doesn’t get worse and I don’t injure myself? This job requires a lot of pressure on the arm.

Disclaimer: Please note, this reply is for informational purposes only. It’s not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician, physical therapist, or other qualified health provider with a medical condition.

Things to Know

  • Pain on the inside of the elbow can be a sign of a few conditions.
  • Modifying activities to avoid the aggravating motions is recommended.
  • A physical therapist could determine the origin of your symptoms.

Thanks for your question. We will do our best to provide you with some useful information. However, please note that without doing a full examination, it is difficult to make specific comments about your situation.

Pain on the inside of the elbow can be a sign of a few conditions. 

One of the conditions is called Cubital Tunnel Syndrome. 

This is when one of the nerves on the inside of your arm becomes irritated. Along with pain on the inside of the elbow, this condition can cause numbness to the pinky finger and ring finger and is usually aggravated by activities that require prolonged or repetitive bending of the elbow. Bumping the back of the elbow can also irritate this nerve, causing a shock-like sensation also known as “hitting your funny bone”.

Another possibility is Medial Epicondylitis, or Golfer’s Elbow.

This can also cause pain on the inside of the elbow that can travel down to the wrist. This occurs when one of the tendons that goes from your elbow to your wrist becomes irritated and is typically aggravated by activities that require repetitive bending of the wrist.

With either of these conditions, icing the area of pain for 10-15 minutes at a time can help with pain and inflation.

Modifying activities to avoid the aggravating motions is also recommended. While it may be safe to return to work, it is possible that your elbow pain may worsen once you begin to work again. If your symptoms do return, you would likely benefit from an evaluation with a physical therapist who could determine the origin of your symptoms and work with you to create a customized treatment plan to ensure that your condition does not worsen.

Physical therapist manual therapy patient with foot and ankle injury

Have an injury that just won't heal?

While minor injuries often heal on their own, it is a good idea to seek treatment from a physical therapist if your symptoms persist. Our PTs will work with you to develop a customized program to expedite your recovery and get you back to the things you love.  

Other Q&A You May Be Interested In

Shin splints are characterized by pain or tenderness along or just behind the large bone (tibia) in the lower leg and are common among runners and athletes.
While elbow pain can be disruptive, proactive management strategies, including rest, appropriate exercises, and professional guidance, can help alleviate symptoms and promote recovery.
While we can never be one hundred percent sure that this type of injury won’t happen, the more you prepare your body for the type of activities that you will be doing the most as an athlete, the lower your chance of injury.

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