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The Best Elbow Joint Pain Treatment Options

Elbow joint pain is an uncomfortable symptom as it disturbs everyday activity. Though it is more resistant to being overworked to develop conditions like arthritis, the elbow joint is still vulnerable to physical trauma, improper flexing and stretching, and frequent heavy physical activity. 

So what are the most effective elbow joint pain treatments? Self-treatments like appling ice, sports medicine, braces and compression and massages will help ease elbow joint pain, especially if it’s from injury or overuse. If the pain doesn’t improve after a week or two weeks, consult a doctor or a physical therapist as it may be due to a medical condition such as arthritis. 

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Causes of Elbow Joint Pain

The elbow joint pain can be caused by complications in two of the three tendons of the elbow joint: the lateral epicondyle and the medial epicondyle. The former is the bulge in the outward side of the elbow that is also responsible for hand and wrist movement toward the arm. 

The latter is the bulge in the inward side of the elbow is in control of the muscles that curl your hand and wrist upwards. Repeated stress or damage in either of these tendons will lead to elbow joint pain with any form of treatment.

1) Injury 

Direct injury or physical trauma in the elbow and forearm is the swiftest way to get elbow joint pain. Even though the surface level of the trauma may be healed, the pain may continue as the tissues in the elbow joint are impaired, injured, or inflamed and will require specific treatment targeting that area. If the pain continues to develop or remains after two weeks despite self-treatment options, consult a doctor if surgical treatment may be necessary to completely mend the effects of the injury. 

2) Tennis Elbow

Pain or discomfort in the outer parts of the elbow may be due to tennis elbow. Also known as lateral epicondylitis, tennis elbow is caused by damage or weariness in muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the lateral epicondyle. This area is prone to harm and lasting pain because it has a low blood supply. Tennis elbow is usually caused by repeatedly doing heavy motions that include straightening the wrist and elbow, hence its name is shared with the rigorous sport. 

Other symptoms include a weak grip, numbness in the fingers and hand, and pain when moving or stretching the fingers. Since it’s caused by the heavy usage of the lateral epicondyle, the pain can subside with long periods of rest. Stretching, ice compress, and medication can speed the recovery process. 

3) Golfer’s Elbow

Likewise, golfer’s elbow, or medial epicondylitis, is pain or discomfort in the forearm and wrist due to continuous wear-and-tear in the medial epicondyle—the tendons found in the inner elbow. This is caused by intense physical activity in the forearm, especially those that involve a lot for twisting and gripping motions. 

Symptoms that differ from tennis elbow are difficulty to form a fist or close the fingers and pain in the area known as the “funny bone”. If severe pain occurs despite self-medication or physical therapy, consult a doctor immediately as it may signal further damage such as elbow fractures or the pain may be due to another condition.

Treatments for Elbow Joint Pain

There are various medical elbow joint pain treatments that can rapidly and effectively ease it and prevent it from increasing. Though rest and relaxation may be all that is needed, it is difficult to sit still if the pain is still acute. 

1) Medication

Over-the-counter pain medication and anti-inflammatory medicines can help ease pain and swelling in the elbow joint. These include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin, ibuprofen in the form of Advil and Motrin, naproxen in Aleve, and ketoprofen in actron and orudis. However, these drugs have side effects such as ulcers and leverage. Take only what is needed or prescribed by your doctor. 

Medication can also be combined with the application of an ice pack in the painful area and the use of an elbow strap to further reduce swelling and protect the tendon from strain and damage. If the pain persists or increases even with medication, there may be damage in the elbow joint that needs to be mended to fully ease the pain. 

2) Physical Therapy 

Physical therapy involves a routine of exercising, stretching, and workouts that help strengthen the muscles around the elbow to better support the worn-down joint. This is also effective when the elbow joint pain is caused by improper stretching or incorrect technique. Physical therapy will regain the sensation and strength in the hand, wrist, and forearm that has been sapped by long periods of elbow joint pain.    

Examples for physical therapy for elbow joint pain include, but are not limited to, wrist extensions, fist clenches, and elbow flexes. These exercises target the tendons and ligaments in the wrist, forearm, and elbow to protect against further elbow joint pain. Physical therapy should be done by a certified physical therapist that has the knowledge of proper techniques to target specific areas in the anatomy of the elbow. 

3) Steroid Injections 

Steroid injections involve the inoculation of corticosteroids, naturally-occurring hormones, in the elbow to alleviate severe pain and bothersome swelling. This is usually done when the elbow joint pain is caused by conditions like arthritis, gout, and rheumatoid arthritis.  

Side effects of the procedure can include an intense inflammatory reaction and infection, should signs of fever appear. Though steroid injections do provide effective pain relief, it may not last as it doesn’t completely solve the cause of the pain. Consult a doctor for a proper diagnosis of the condition of your elbow joint to evaluate if steroid injections are necessary to treat it. 

Surgical Treatments for Elbow Joint Pain

Surgeries for elbow joint pain in cases of chronic elbow joint pain that lasts for about six months with no improvement with nonsurgical treatment and medication. Another reason an orthopedic doctor would recommend surgery is if the patient continues to experience worsening pain with continued use of the arm and forearm. 

Some symptoms include stiffness after motion or rest and a limited range of motion in the arm. Surgical treatment may also be required for conditions like elbow arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and severe cases of tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow to prevent further pain and elbow problems.

1) Elbow Arthroscopy 

Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure that involves making a small incision in the elbow and inserting a small camera that will guide the surgeon to directly treat the affected area. Surgical procedures include direct treatment of lateral epicondylitis and medial epicondylitis, removal of scarred tissue, removing loose bone fragments and cartilages, and elbow arthroplasty.

2) Arthroscopic Debridement

As mentioned before, this surgical treatment involves the surgeon removing any loose bone or abnormal bone growth through the assistance of an inserted camera and surgical tools. Though this may also be done by opening the elbow with a large incision, an arthroscopy provides the same effective pain relief results.

It also grants a wider area of motion in the elbow with less pain and a faster recovery period. However, the irregular bone growth may happen again and the range of motion tends to lessen a few years after the surgery. Arthroscopy also carries the risk of nerve damage as the elbow joint has numerous nerves around it.

3) Synovectomy

A synovectomy should only be considered for patients with rheumatoid arthritis or any elbow condition with intense levels of inflammation that lack any cartilage damage. The surgical treatment involves the removal of the synovium—a fluid that lubricates the joints in the elbow but can be inflamed, causing it to corrode any nearby cartilage. 

It has significant pain relief results as well as lowering any swelling and inflammation. However, it doesn’t prevent any progress in arthritis and may be required again once the synovium grows back a few years after the surgery.

4) Elbow Arthroplasty

Arthroplasty is a surgical treatment to replace, reposition, or rebuild a joint and can be done partially or to completely replace the joint. This partial or interpositional arthroplasty is done for patients with extensive elbow joint damage due to osteoarthritis caused by physical trauma or frequent overuse. 

After a recovery period of up to 4 months, patients will have lessened, but not completely disappeared, levels of pain and range of motion and can still be a candidate for future surgical treatments. A total elbow replacement is the riskiest out of all the surgical procedures and is reserved for older patients with severe cases of arthritis. It can completely relieve and restore pain and motion in the arms but have high failure rates.  

Home Remedies for Elbow Joint Pain

Elbow joint pain can still be relieved at home with a few tools and physical techniques. These can also be done in conjunction with other treatments and after sessions of physical activity to help relieve the pressure in the elbow joint.  

1) Compression

Using an elbow brace can help stabilize the joints to avert swelling and further pain when doing physical activities. It is also beneficial to use a compression brace after a recent injury that may displace the neutral position of the elbow if left untreated. Consult a doctor or a physician to receive a compression brace that’s best suited to your elbow condition.

2) Light Stretching 

The chances of elbow joint pain increase with continuous awkward extensions of the arm, incorrect physical techniques in sports or handiwork, or without cooling down the muscles after a workout session. 

Stretching after these activities or before you sleep will keep the limbs limber, maintain its current range of motion, and lubricate the joints especially when they rest as you sleep or if you currently have arthritis. Receive the assistance of a physical therapist or a trainer to learn the proper form of these stretches for maximum results.

3) Massages 

Similar to stretching, a massage can help ease elbow joint pain and decrease swelling and inflammation by increasing the overall blood flow in the joints and the body. This can range from a message on the affected joints to a full body massage. 

Consult a doctor if a massage is permitted with your current condition and ask a physical therapist or a professional massager for simpler and easier messages to do at home to help ease some pain without the physical appearance of a trained professional. 

When to Seek Consultation 

Elbow joint pain is a normal symptom of physical activity with inadequate amounts of rest and improper technique but it may continue to develop without lifestyle changes and treatment. If you’re at risk for elbow joint pain and its associated medical conditions if you have an active physical lifestyle, a physically demanding job that puts tension or exerts pressure in the forearm, and if you are of old age.

Seek consultation if you have the following symptoms:

  • Elbow joint pain persists for two weeks with elbow pain treatment or long periods of rest
  • Severe elbow pain that does not decrease with home remedies 
  • Intense swelling or bruising in the joint
  • Visible deformities in the joint after an elbow injury
  • Audible grinding or cracking in the joints 
  • Stiffness or a significant decrease in the range of motion in the arms

Get the Best Elbow Joint Pain Treatments at aNu Aesthetics 

Elbow joint pain can range from a general reaction to extreme athletics to an underlying condition. Self-treatments can provide instant and effective pain relief but ailments such as arthritis need stronger elbow treatment options to fully ease its complications.

At aNu Aesthetics, we can provide outstanding outpatient care through an effective range of treatments ranging from minimally invasive and safe surgical procedures to alternative healthcare services that can naturally bring you to your most optimal state of wellness. Schedule a consultation with one of our experienced specialists today.

Rewind The Clock Both Outside And In

Regenerative therapy has helped countless patients look and feel like the person they were years before. Call us today to book your regenerative therapy consultation.


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