How do I Treat a Sore Elbow?

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  • Written By: Niki Foster
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
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  • Last Modified Date: 05 May 2020
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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.

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Post 2

@SkyWhisperer - I'm glad to hear of your success with home remedies.

One thing that I don’t recommend is cortisone shots for elbow pain treatment, even if you go to the doctor and he says you need them. Cortisone is very effective at reducing inflammation, no doubt, but it will weaken your muscles over time.

I recommend that you use massage therapy, ice packs as you have been doing—and even acupuncture—before attempting cortisone or surgery. The latter should only be used when nothing else will work.

Post 1

My son has been a tennis player for three years now, and as could be expected he started developing tennis elbow symptoms. He would awaken in the night with the pain and it hindered him from concentrating at school. Finally we did two things.

First, we got ice compress elbow packs, which seemed to help a lot. Then we bought this device that is specifically designed to strengthen forearm muscles. It’s a plastic gizmo that you grip with both hands and rotate back and forth for several minutes a day.

Both of these treatments have been helpful, but the important thing to remember is that if you have this condition, be consistent for best results.

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