Elbow Pain Explained: Your Roadmap to Recovery and Relief

Living with elbow pain can feel like a constant battle against your own body. Simple tasks such as lifting a mug of coffee, shaking someone’s hand, or even stretching out your arm become complex challenges.

We at Coeur Physiotherapy understand how frustrating and isolating this can be. It’s not just about the physical discomfort—it’s the nagging worry about what’s causing the pain and the fear of what it might mean for your future.

Our goal with this article is to shed some light on the mystery of elbow pain and offer a path toward relief and recovery.

What causes Elbow Pain?

Elbow pain can be triggered by various factors, ranging from overuse injuries and strain to specific conditions like tendonitis.

Elbow pain on the top or bottom of the joint, for example, can be due to conditions like tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow, characterized by the inflammation of the tendons that connect your forearm muscles to your elbow.

Overuse or repetitive strain on these tendons can lead to tissue damage and inflammation, causing persistent discomfort.

Similarly, elbow pain when extending the arm can indicate an overuse injury or arthritis.

Ultimately, the exact cause of elbow pain will depend on several factors, including your physical activities, lifestyle, and overall health.

Couer Physiotherapy - Elbow Pain
Couer Physiotherapy - Elbow Pain

Symptoms of Elbow Pain

Typically, the symptoms of elbow pain can range from a dull ache at rest to sharp pain when the elbow is in use or extended. You may also experience a sense of discomfort when applying pressure to the elbow joint, a decreased range of motion, or even swelling and redness.


While these symptoms can be distressing, they are critical to understanding your condition and determining the best treatment plan. They act as signposts pointing to the underlying cause of your elbow pain, whether it be tendonitis, joint inflammation, or something else entirely.

Common Types of Elbow Pain

Tennis Elbow

This occurs when the tendons on the outside of the elbow become inflamed due to overuse or strain, causing pain on the outer side of the elbow.

Golfer's Elbow

Similar to Tennis Elbow, but the pain occurs on the elbow’s inner side, where the forearm muscles’ tendons attach to the bony bump on the inside of your elbow.

Elbow Bursitis

This is inflammation of the bursa, a fluid-filled sac that acts as a cushion at the tip of the elbow. This condition causes pain in the back of the elbow.

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

This condition is caused by increased pressure on the ulnar nerve, which can cause numbness or tingling in the ring and small fingers, pain in the forearm, or weakness in the hand.

Elbow Ligament Sprains

There are several supporting ligaments around your elbow that can become damaged, stretched, or sometimes torn.  This most often happens after a fall or blow to the elbow, but can happen from repetitive use also.

Elbow Fractures

These usually result from a fall or a direct blow to the elbow, causing severe pain, swelling, and difficulty in bending your arm.

How to Treat Elbow Pain

While elbow pain can be disruptive and debilitating, there’s hope for relief and recovery. Depending on the cause, treatment can range from physiotherapy exercises to stretch and strengthen the affected area, ergonomic changes to tools or workstations, or more specialized interventions like dry needling, taping, or bracing.

At Coeur Physiotherapy, we prioritize non-invasive treatments focused on pain relief, restoring function, and preventing further injury. We may suggest specific exercises to strengthen your forearm muscles, improve your joint’s range of motion, or advise on lifestyle changes to prevent further strain.


Did you know?

A 2022 Systematic Review by Menta et al. of nineteen high-quality studies found that manual therapy and eccentric exercise were consistently the most efficacious and cost effective treatments for lateral epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow).  Additional beneficial treatments included Shockwave Therapy and Kinesiotaping (offered at Coeur!).

Frequently Asked Questions

Over-the-counter pain relief medication, rest, ice, and gentle stretching exercises can alleviate mild elbow pain. However, persistent or severe pain requires professional medical attention.

Suppose your elbow pain is persistent, causing mobility issues, or is accompanied by intense pain, swelling, or numbness. In that case, it’s time to seek professional help.

While physiotherapy can significantly help manage and alleviate elbow pain, the ‘cure’ depends on the underlying cause. Physiotherapy plays a crucial role in managing symptoms, promoting healing, and preventing recurrence.

Yes, but the type of exercise matters. Low-impact and specific physiotherapy exercises can strengthen the muscles, improve flexibility, and aid in recovery.

The healing period for elbow pain varies widely depending on the cause, severity, the individual’s overall health, and treatment adherence. Most conditions improve significantly within a few weeks of starting the right treatment, but some may take several months to fully recover.

Both conditions can cause elbow pain but have different symptoms and treatments. A physiotherapist can help determine the exact cause.

Your Next Steps

At Coeur Physiotherapy, we are committed to helping you navigate your journey with elbow pain. Our team of professionals is ready to conduct a comprehensive assessment to understand the cause of your pain and customize a treatment plan that suits your needs and lifestyle.

To start your road to recovery, don’t hesitate to book an appointment online or call us at 587-200-8992.

What Our clients say