What are the Most Common Causes of Sharp Elbow Pain?

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  • Written By: Brandon May
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 06 November 2019
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Sharp elbow pain may result from a number of causes which affect the surrounding joints or tissues, and usually revolve around some type of injury which promotes inflammation and pain. Very rarely is sharp elbow pain seen in individuals by random chance, as this condition is mainly caused by those who perform constant activity involving the straining of wrists or elbows. Pain in the elbow is often the result of tendinitis or from tennis elbow, both being an inflammation of the tendons. Acute elbow pain may be blunted by anti-pain medications as the elbow heals, and it also may be treated with anti-inflammatory medications if the sharp elbow pain involves swelling or inflammation to the joints of the elbow.

Many athletes develop sharp elbow pain after constantly thrusting pressure on the hinge of the arm through throwing or hitting motions. Repeated motions of this type of activity, without proper exercises that will stretch and work the muscles, increase the chance of inflaming the tendons that surround the elbow. This condition is called tendinitis, or sometimes tennis elbow, and involves sharp pain in the elbow even when used in minor everyday activities. Inflammation of the tendons often leads to swelling which increases pain, making movement very minimal and almost impossible in severe cases.


Sometimes sharp elbow pain can be seen in those who overuse their wrists without proper precautions, such as gardeners or those who constantly work rotating tools. Although the pain may originate in the wrist, it is very likely that it will travel into the elbow and effect the tendons, leading to soreness and pain. Children may also develop nursemaid's elbow, which is a sharp pain in the elbow due to a pulling force on their outstretched arm. Often this is treated with rest, as the child's recovery rate is much quicker than an adult's.

Treating acute pain in the elbow is often accomplished through abstinence from strenuous activity involving the wrists and elbows, which will help rest the tendons and speed the recovery process. If tendinitis is diagnosed, anti-inflammatory medications may be prescribed as a treatment to help reduce swelling. Anti-inflammatory foods and herbs may also help bring down inflammation, making this a natural and alternative choice for those not wanting to deal with the side effects of anti-inflammatory drugs. Over time, a doctor will prescribe simple exercises and movement for the elbow which will help strengthen and heal it even further.


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Post 3

I've strained my elbow a couple of times, while playing sports and it is not fun at all in recovery. It seems like most elbow pain treatment involves trying to keep it very still, which basically means your whole arm is out of action. And if it's your dominant arm, then you are going to be trying to use it all the time without remembering that it's sore, and that if you want it to be less sore you need to stop using it!

Post 2

@KoiwiGal - Another option is to get an ergonomic chair and keyboard, so that your hands are in a more natural position and your elbows aren't being strained.

Some people even choose to stand at their desks rather than sit, because it puts your whole body in a better long term position. I'm not sure where they put the keyboard though, because I feel like you'd end up resting your wrists on the edge of the desk to rest your arms after a while and that's not great.

Post 1

I tend to get elbow pain when I've been slouching at my desk, because my elbows have to bend to much to reach the keyboard. It's easy to get into a habit of sitting the wrong way, or even just the same way for hours on end and your elbows and wrists aren't meant to bend the way they have to when you're using a traditional keyboard.

I mean, think about how much knitting some people do, and they never feel pain from it. That's because the wrists are facing each other, instead of facing down, like they do at a keyboard.

So, I try to take some time every ten minutes or so, to shake out and move my

wrists and stretch my elbows so I don't get sore. I do so much typing, I think if I didn't at least try to do this, I would end up with elbow pain and other symptoms of RSI pretty quickly.

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