There are many methods to treat a sore elbow, depending upon the nature, severity, and longevity of the injury. If elbow pain is mild, and movement is normal, a sore elbow can usually be treated at home. If elbow injury is more severe, or the pain persists or worsens over 24 hours of home treatment, a physician should be consulted.
A minor injury to the elbow can cause moderate pain and tenderness, as well as stiffness and minor swelling. If symptoms are not severe, you can take care of a sore elbow at home. First, remove all jewelry on the injured arm, such as rings, bracelets, and watches.
Ice compresses applied every 15 minutes can help reduce pain and swelling. You can also wrap the elbow and keep it in a sling in order to avoid using it, allowing it time to heal. Keeping the elbow above the heart can also help reduce swelling and pain.
A gentle massage is an excellent way to treat a sore elbow at home, as long as it does not cause any discomfort. Over the counter pain medications, such as aspirin, acetaminophen, naproxen, and ibuprofen, can help alleviate pain and promote healing. Avoid anything that may increase swelling over the first 48 hours of treatment, such as taking a hot shower or bath, or drinking alcohol. After two or three days of treatment, if the swelling is gone, hot treatments may be applied to restore flexibility. Gentle exercise focused on restoring range of motion and building strength can also begin around this time.
If a sore elbow is twisted or in any way out of its normal position, it is essential to consult a doctor. You should also see a doctor to treat a sore elbow if there is a very large or painful bruise. One bad sign to watch out for is if the hand, wrist, or forearm is abnormally pale, blue, or cold.
After determining the cause of a sore elbow, a doctor will determine the best method of treatment. He or she may treat a sore elbow with a brace, splint, or cast to be worn until healing is complete. Medication to address pain or infection may also be prescribed. The treatment may include physical therapy to regain range of motion and strength during healing. The home treatment methods described above can also be helpful in conjunction with professional care, but make sure to discuss any home treatment methods with your doctor first.