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Any kind of pain and inability to move a certain muscle can be frustrating and decrease the quality of everyday life.
If you have pain in one of the limbs that is also making them unable to move or straighten, it is important to identify the location of the pain.
Determining the pain’s origin can help decide what the problem might be and how to resolve it.
One of the most common complaints is elbow pain or at least pain around it.
Most people with elbow pain also report the inability to straighten their arm.
If your elbow hurts and you can’t straighten your arm, you should definitely not leave it to pass itself if the problem persists beyond a few days.
It is likely to get worse the more you wait.
Perhaps you are noticing elbow hurts when bending your arm. It may even come and go throughout the day.
It is easy to understand sudden elbow pain if your arms are part of some kind of daily hefty activity.
This could be a certain kind of workout, sports, job, etc.
However, some people have also reported elbow pain without having done anything strenuous.
Some are able to approximately pinpoint the location of the pain in the arm but others experience it to be vague.
It can become more difficult to determine the exact origin of the pain if it shoots.
Understanding the Elbow Joint
The elbow joint is made from 3 bones coming together.
These are the upper arm bone known as the humerus and 2 bones that form the forearm; namely the ulna and radius.
The bones have a cartilage on their ends.
These help them slide against each other absorb shocks.
The different components remain in place with the help of tissues called the ligaments.
The tendons connect the bones to the muscles, which allows moving the arm in different ways.
Do you think you may have simply strained or sprained your elbow?
If so, check out this article right here that explains everything you need to know and the difference between a strain and sprain.
Causes of Elbow Pain
If you are sure the pain is arising from the elbow or around it, the following could be some possible causes for it:
· The most common reason of elbow pain is overuse. Repetitive hand, wrist, and arm movements can strain the elbow·
Arthritis can cause elbow pain but this is generally a rare cause. The reason is that the elbow joint is less prone to wear and tear, unlike the other joints of the body
· One-time injuries during sports or similar activities can lead to dislocated or fractured elbow. The pain might return at times long after the original injury has healed
Repetitive activities can cause wear and tear to the elbow. This can lead to bursitis and tennis elbow. Bursa are small sacs of fluids in the joints and bursitis is caused when these become swollen. Tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow are types of tendinitis. This means that the tendons around the elbow have become swollen. Tennis elbow will affect the outside of the elbow while golfer’s elbow affects the inside
· If you are familiar with the carpal tunnel syndrome, then you know that nerve passing through the wrist can get squeezed; leading to issues with the wrist and arm. The same can happen around the elbow. One of the main nerve of the arm; also known as the ulnar vein, can get squeezed as it passed along the inside of the elbow and then runs through the tissue known as the cubital tunnel. It is known as cubital tunnel syndrome. It causes burning or numbing in the hand, arm, and fingers
· Stress or overuse of the arm can also cause a minor crack in the arm bones. These are called stress fractures. More common with the lower legs and feet, they can still happen in the arms if activities like throwing or pitching are indulged
· Rheumatoid arthritis is quite common in the elbow. The immune system starts to attack the healthy tissue of the body and makes the joint swollen
· Osteoarthritis is when the cartilage begins to break down over time. This leads the bones to rub together; having no protection in between. It can cause pain and stiffness in the area
Gout is also a type of arthritis. The uric acid fails to get wasted from the body and may build up in the elbow tissues as crystals. This can cause a lot of pain
Children and teenagers can develop osteochondritis dissecans. In this condition, a piece of the bone near the elbow dies. When some of the bone and cartilage breaks off, it can lead to pain during physical activity. The condition is more likely to happen with the knees but can occur in the elbows too
· In more serious causes of elbow pain, lupus and Lyme disease are included. Lupus is an illness of the immune system where it attacks the healthy parts of the body. Problems with hands and feet are common but elbows can be affected as well. Lyme disease is carried by ticks. It is a serious problem that can worsen if not treated in time. It can affect the nervous system and cause pain in the joints; including the elbow.
Check out what others are saying about their elbow pain over at this forum and learn from others experiences.
How to Treat Elbow Pain?
If your elbow hurts; can’t straighten arm, you can take a few actions at home to help.
If the problem is not so serious and only temporary, these actions could help the pain to pass on its own.
However, if the problem is one of the persisting kind without professional treatment, then it will ease your pain until you can access the help required.
Experts tell that elbows respond to slow and gentle stretching.
If you indulge in aggressive stretching, you might end up pushing the limit of the range of motion.
This can lead to more pain and inflammation in the elbow.
Some people may have even more of a limited range of motion in the arm due to previous elbow fractures, surgeries, or general trauma.
This is known as a contracture.
Our friends over at eMedicineHealth share their best tips on elbow injuries and conditions.
The tissue around the elbow is soft and will feel better if the stretching is slower and gentler and implanted over a longer period of time.
If your elbow hurts; can’t straighten arm, you should try the following exercise:
· Lie on the floor with your face in the upward direction
· Place a pillow under the affected arm. This will let the arm rest with just a slight stretch. You can adjust the amount of support under the arm as required
· Don’t let your shoulder lift off the floe when in this position
· Let your elbow rest into an extension for about 10 to 15 minutes
· Press your forearm into the pillow gently for about 10 seconds every minute by contracting your triceps muscles
· You will notice that the range of motion will start to improve
· Reduce the support under the forearm as the range improves
· Don’t let your shoulder stretch excessively during this exercise. Keep it a 1 or 2 out of a scale of 10
· If the stretch you are experiencing is too much, then you can adjust the amount of support under the forearm to promote more comfortable flexion
Should You See a Medical Expert?
Most people try some kind of home treatment or off the counter pain medication when the elbow begins to hurt.
However, it is highly suggested to consult an orthopedist if the problem persists for more than a couple of days and the pain is becoming unbearable.
Some people might experience additional symptoms like stiffness and swelling in addition to the pain.
This is even more of a sign that you should see a doctor.
Here is when you should go to a doctor:
· You believe that some kind of impact may have fractured or dislocated the elbow
· Elbow pain fails to go away with the application of ice and resting
· Pain is persisting despite not moving or using the arm at all
· Pain is becoming intense
· Pain is accompanied by swelling and bruising around the elbow
· Pain, swelling, or redness continues to become worse, especially if one has a fever
· Issues with the elbows; for example, one can’t bend the arm
Seeking professional help in time can prevent an elbow issue from becoming worse and reducing the recovery time during whatever treatment is needed.
If you stick to home treatments such as pain and inflammation medications in addition to exercises, you may end up worsening an elbow issue that could have been easier to treat if a doctor’s help was available in the beginning.
If you are an individual who indulges in activities that make excessive use of the arm and elbow joint, then you can easily expect elbow pain at some point in your life.
Your orthopedist may recommend rest and avoiding overuse for some time if the issue is simpler like that.
It is highly suggested to follow the doctor’s advice to keep your arm within the healthy moving range.
If the pain has arrived suddenly without any solid cause such as a strenuous activity, don’t get stressed and see a doctor immediately.
But here is the thing…
In 99 percent of cases, it is most likely that you are suffering from tennis elbow.
Luckily, there are only 5 proven steps to heal tennis elbow at home without shelling out money going back and forth to Doctors.
is the author of Tennis Elbow Secrets Revealed which has been teaching individuals how to overcome their tennis elbow injury at home since 2005 with over 1,767,986 copies sold.
He is a Certified Personal Fitness Trainer and Exercise Rehab Specialist based in Vancouver, BC, Canada