Mastering Elbow Pain: Tips for Relief & Recovery

A man holds his elbow during a tennis or pickleball match

I injured my elbow about a month ago, probably changing a tire, and tried to play pickleball two nights ago. Wow, that was not fun! Any backhand swing just hurt! The pain is in the lower portion of my elbow, on the outside. I guess I aggravated it, and now it hurts to straighten my arm completely as well as to shake someone’s hand (squeezing the hand). I wonder if there is something obvious I should do to address this?

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

  • Sometimes issues in the wrist or shoulder can contribute to elbow pain.
  • Repetitive motion can trigger outer elbow pain.
  • Stretching exercises can be key for alleviating symptoms.

When it comes to elbow pain, every case is unique. Without a thorough examination, it’s challenging to provide specific advice tailored to your condition. However, we can shed some light on the general aspects of dealing with elbow pain, which can often interfere with daily activities.

Elbow pain varies widely in intensity and can stem from various causes, affecting everything from lifting objects to simple tasks like typing or gripping. It’s crucial to undergo an assessment to determine the best course of action tailored to your needs.

It’s essential to recognize that elbow pain isn’t always isolated to the elbow joint itself; issues in the wrist and shoulder can also contribute to discomfort. Therefore, a comprehensive physical therapy assessment includes evaluating these areas for a holistic treatment approach.

Deciding when to seek treatment hinges on the severity of your symptoms and how they impact your daily life. While prompt treatment is beneficial, especially for long-lasting conditions, the urgency depends on individual circumstances.

physical therapist test arm and shoulder strength of a patient

Activities that involve repetitive motions, such as those found in pickleball or similar sports, can contribute to outside elbow pain. Overloading the joint or pushing too hard can worsen the condition, emphasizing the need for moderation and proper technique.

During the initial period of injury, while the pain level is high it is important to manage it with as much rest or relief from aggravating activity as possible. Ice or heat, bracing, and pain medication can also be useful during this phase. 

For muscle tendon issues, certain braces can alleviate pressure on the affected areas, making daily tasks more manageable. Wrist braces may also reduce overall strain, allowing for adequate rest and recovery. Applying ice can help alleviate pain and swelling, providing relief.

Stretching exercises can play a crucial role in managing symptoms, provided they don’t exacerbate irritation. Gentle stretching, and holding positions for at least 30 seconds, can help alleviate tension and discomfort. Additionally, isometric exercises, where pressure is applied without joint movement, can provide relief and promote healing.

In summary, while elbow pain can be disruptive, proactive management strategies, including rest, appropriate exercises, and professional guidance, can help alleviate symptoms and promote recovery.

a physical therapist works with a hispanic man on upper extremity exercise for shoulder and elbow pain

Physical therapy for elbow pain relief & recovery.

From injury recovery to achieving optimal performance, our passion is to help every patient reach their goals and live an active, pain-free life. Get started with PT today!

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