The elbow is a complex joint since it can extend, flex, and rotate. As a result, people may experience pain from normal daily activities. Pain can occur on the front, back, and either side of the elbow and can vary anywhere from a tingling to a sharp pain. Elbow pain can be diagnosed by a Doctor of Chiropractic after learning about a patient’s history, an examination, and orthopedic testing. It’s important to evaluate areas above and below the elbow to find the cause of the pain.
Below are some common causes of elbow pain along with several tips to help reduce the occurrence and intensity of elbow pain in your daily life.
Repeated use of the elbow during work can cause pain.
- Work activities like using a screwdriver, typing, gripping, and turning can increase inflammation and pain in the elbow joint.
- Typing on a keyboard can lead to pain when the keyboard is too high, or the position is on the side of the body.
- While using a tool, keep the elbow in toward the body. For example, if using a nail gun, position your entire body in front of the area to nail and keep the elbow close to your side instead of reaching with the nail gun and nailing from an angle.
- In general, if you notice that your elbows are flared out by your body, bring them in closer to the mid-section to prevent elbow conditions.
Activities like tennis, golf, lifting weights, and throwing a ball can trigger elbow pain.
- Always stretch after activity to prevent muscle tightness in the joint.
- If you use your elbow in tasks regularly, take a few seconds between tasks to stretch or rotate the elbow in the opposite direction that it’s typically moved.
Stretch the area that seems to normally be the tightest.
- To stretch your anterior (with palm forward, the crease side of the joint) elbow: Place the back of the hand on a table with fingers pointing toward the body. Lean forward until the stretch is felt in the forearm. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
- To stretch your exterior (with palm forward, the back side of the joint) elbow: Bring the arm straight out in front of the body, palm down, gently stretch the wrist down with the opposite hand pulling toward the body until the stretch is felt in the forearm. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
- To stretch your medial (with palm forward, the side of the joint near the body) elbow: Place the hand on the wall with fingers pointed up and elbow straight. Slowly rotate the hand back until the thumb is pointing toward the back side. Maintain a straight arm. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
- To stretch your lateral (with palm forward, the side of the joint away from the body) elbow: Extend the elbow out and make a fist, slowly stretch the wrist downward as if you are casting a reel. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
Try using a foam roller on the muscle groups around the elbow as an additional stretch.
- Strengthen the area that is opposite your tightest muscle groups surrounding your elbow.
- Anterior elbow: Gently pull your hand up against a table or level surface with your elbow partially bent. Hold for 5-10 seconds and repeat 2-3 times.
- Exterior elbow: With palm up, gently push your hand down against a table or level surface with your elbow bent at a 90-degree angle. Hold for 5-10 seconds and repeat 2-3 times.
- Medial elbow: Keeping your arm extended, place your hand from the opposite side on the elbow to resist pushing arm in toward the body. Hold for 5-10 seconds and repeat 2-3 times.
- Lateral elbow: Keeping your arm extended, place your hand from the opposite side on the elbow to resist pushing arm our and away from the body. Hold for 5-10 seconds and repeat 2-3 times
As always, visit your Doctor of Chiropractic to get adjusted. This will help your elbow and the areas surrounding it to stay in alignment. Your chiropractor may educate you on additional stretches and exercises for your specific condition.