Have you recently noticed that your elbow pain has been getting worse and worse?
Are there specific movements that aggravate it?
If you are suffering from pain on the outside of your elbow, I’m going to show 5 simple steps to erase it so it never comes back or prevents you from doing the things you love to do.
To be sure that you get the most out of this in-depth article, I will break it down into individuals sections whereby you can quickly jump to the section which applies most appropriately to your current situation and what you need to best information about.
- Anatomy and structures of the outer elbow
- I have outer elbow pain when straightening my arm
- I have outer elbow pain when I bend my arm
- I have outer elbow pain when I bench press
- I have outer elbow pain after lifting weights
So let`s jump straight in with elbow anatomy.
Your elbow is one of the largest hinge joints in your body.
It can extend and flex your arm 180 degrees.
Your elbow is held together at the joint by three ligaments which connect to your two arm bones.
Muscles and tendons also come together and attach at your elbow to help with support and stability.
For the purpose of this article on outer elbow pain, you should know that the major tendon which attaches on the outside of your elbow( at the lateral epicondyle) is known as the common extensor tendon.
Your common extensor tendon and muscles helps you extend and straighten your arm plus control movements of your wrist, hand and fingers.
When you start to experience pain on the outside of your elbow, it is this common extensor tendon that is usually damaged, strained, inflamed or torn.
Outer elbow pain when straightening your arm
If you are in the group of individuals who are from pain on the outside of your elbow when you straighten it, don’t worry you are not alone.
What happens to the muscles in your forearm when you straighten your arm is that they get longer/extend.
If you have any sort of tear or inflammation in your extensor forearm muscles or tendon which attaches at your elbow, you may experience pain.
It is not uncommon for you to extend your arm hundreds of times a day without giving it any thought.
It can be quite frustrating to try and come to grips as to why, seemingly out of nowhere, your arms hurts when you straighten it.
Chances are that you either overworked your forearm muscles one day or you are engaged in some sort of repetitive task on a daily basis that has simply caught up to you and has now caused an injury to your outer elbow.
Does your job or hobby involve holding an object in your hand with a tight grip to perform some sort of task? For example, a painter uses a paintbrush all day long.
As innocent as this sounds, this can cause elbow problems in the long term.
Perhaps you recently played a sport such as volleyball.
Striking down on the ball for a couple of hours is definitely intensive enough to give you outer elbow pain but you may only notice it when you straighten your arm fully.
Another example could be if you recently moved or perhaps helped a friend move, you had to lift heavy boxes from a low surface to a high surface while keeping your arms straight.
Again this could be the cause of your elbow pain.
Outer elbow pain when bending your arm
There can be many reasons as to why you have outer elbow pain when bending your arm.
Some of the possible scenarios are more serious than others.
Below you can find a list of reasons plus possible elbow injuries or conditions that you may be suffering from as a result.
You have a fractured elbow – Have you had a bad fall, received some sort of blunt force trauma to your elbow or maybe twisted your elbow beyond it’s normal range of motion within the past 24 hours?
When you suffer from a fracture to your elbow, you usually break one of two bones that make up your arm.
The fracture occurs in either the ulna or the humerus.
The worse case scenario is that you have broken both …ouch!
If you think it is possible that you have fractured your elbow, here are some signs to watch out for:
- inability to use your arm as you did before your injury.
- numbness in the hand and fingers of your affected arm.
- a decrease in your normal range of motion.
- inflammation and swelling of your affected elbow.
- bending and extending your arm/elbow hurts.
- a visible lump or deformity near the elbow or location of the fracture
Obviously I am no Doctor but the only way to confirm a broken bone is with an x-ray.
If your arm is fractured, you are most likely looking at your arm being immobilized for at least 3-6 weeks with a cast.
If both bones are broken, then there is a strong possibility you will be going under the knife for surgery.
Outer elbow pain when using the bench press
I am no stranger to the gym.
I used to be one of those “gym rats” who eventually went on to be a Certified Personal Fitness Trainer and Exercise Rehab Specialist.
Even to this day, I spend on average 20 hours a week in the gym.
When I’m not working one-on-one with clients, I too can get a good workout in and one of my favourite exercises for chest is the classic bench press.
The bench press exercise has always been the benchmark when it comes to defining one’s true strength and power.
No other exercise gets more attention when you have a couple of 45 plates on each side of the bar and you bang out 12-15 reps for 3 sets.
The problem is that many people do this exercise incorrectly which can cause injury to not only your outer elbow but to your rotator cuff as well.
You most likely only experience elbow pain when your elbow goes past a 90 degree angle?
There is no need to go past a 90 degree angle or bring the bar all the way down to your chest.
When this occurs, the load moves from your chest muscles to your shoulder and arm muscles.
The majority of elbow injuries are caused when your elbow goes far and beyond it’s normal range of motion.
Be sure to read my post on elbow pain when working out and weightlifting.
To minimize your elbow pain when performing the bench press, ensure that your elbow is at a 90 degree angle when you bring the bar down and press it back up to starting position.
Check to ensure that your wrists are straight and not bent forwards or backwards.
Stop the bar when your elbows are at 90 degrees and don’t lock out your elbows at the top of the press.
Keep your back flat on the bench(don’t arch) and feet flat on the floor.
This is the optimal position for maximum drive and less strain on the outer elbow ligaments and tendons.
For those of you who are bringing the bar all the way down to your chest or worse bouncing it off your chest, you’re only cheating yourself of getting bigger and stronger.
This is the possible reason for your elbow pain besides the fact that you could already be suffering from tennis elbow.
Outer elbow pain after lifting weights
If you are not experiencing pain in your elbow when you lift weights but rather after you workout, then there are things you can do immediately to help stop the pain.
First and foremost get some ice on there. No don’t apply ice directly to your skin, put the ice in a towel or grab a bag of frozen veggies from the freezer and apply for 10 minutes.
This will help dull the pain and any swelling you may have.
Next you need to put your investigative skills to the test.
If you are someone who works out more than 3 times a week, you probably do a split routine where you break up the body parts in which you train.
You probably do biceps/triceps one day, chest/back another day, shoulders/legs another day or any combination of the three.
You need to narrow it down into which days are worse for elbow pain.
I am willing to bet that your outer elbow pain is worse on the days you do biceps.
And I am also willing to bet that you do bicep curls with dumbbells(heavy).
Using heavy dumbbells whether it be for bicep curls, shoulder press, chest press, etc can be dangerous because it can compromise your range of motion and cause your elbow to flare at weird angles that it’s not use to.
This puts you at risk of tearing tendons and ligaments in your elbow.
Pain On the Outside of Your Elbow Is Most Likely A Sign Of …
Before you close this page and think I am completely bonkers, you must hear me out on this because tennis elbow rarely happens to tennis players.
The most likely reason you have pain on the outside of your elbow is because you are suffering from the number one repetitive strain injury that affects the elbow – tennis elbow.
But what exactly is tennis elbow and what can you do to start healing?
The most common identifiers and signs of tennis elbow is pain, swelling and a burning sensation on the outside of your elbow.
If you are like most sufferers, your elbow pain gets worse and increases when grip down tightly on an object to perform a movement or extend your wrist upwards.
Often the pain can sometimes reach all the way down your forearm and into your fingers.
How Does Tennis Elbow Actually Develop?
Tennis elbow is a common repetitive strain injury brought about by the continuous straining, trauma and/or overuse of the extensor tendon that attaches at the lateral epicondyle of your elbow.
And even though this injury is more commonly referred to as tennis elbow, millions of people each year walk into Doctors clinics and hospitals around the world and get diagnosed with it – and they don’t even play tennis.
Is age and sex a factor when it comes to suffering a tennis elbow injury?
Yes and no. The most current statistics and demographics on tennis elbow is that is primarily affects makes between the ages of 35 and 60.
What about jobs, activities or sports – are there any that are considered high risk?
Of course there are. Here is a small sample of activities, jobs, sports that puts you at risk:
or just about anyone who’s job requires them to keep a tight grip on an object for an extended period of time to achieve a task or result.
What should you do now? What is the best way to jump start your recovery process from tennis elbow? What are your treatment options?
There is no need to quit your job or stop doing what you love to do because you have tennis elbow but you need to be smart about it.
If you are like most people, when you have an injury you are so desperate to get over your injury, you don’t think rationally and start throwing money at so called “treatments” that really do nothing to in the end.
Your hard earned money should not be wasted when it comes to treating tennis elbow. Expensive does not necessarily equate to effective.
Forget having to join a fitness club to do rehab on bulky machines or worry about going back and forth to a Physical therapist which will set you back hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
The first thing you should consider is taking a short break from activities and movements that make your outer elbow pain worse.
There is no way around this.
I’m not saying 3 weeks off, simply 5-6 days of not being to aggressive with your affected arm.
Simply avoid doing the usual things you do that require tight grips and movements with your arms and hands that are repetitive, at least, until the pain on the outside of your elbow decreases.
Please do not go shopping for an elbow brace or strap.
These gadgets do nothing to help you heal and the only thing they are good for is to signal to people that you have an injury.
As with any type of pain, you are best advised to always check with your Doctor to rule out something more serious.
Only a medical professional can make a proper diagnosis as tennis elbow.
Don’t Delay Your Treatment
As you already know, tennis elbow is a condition where the pain progressively gets worse over time, if you choose to simply do nothing about it.
Ignoring your outer elbow pain and tennis elbow is a recipe for disaster!
As time passes and you put off treatment, potentially the longer your recovery may take, not to mention the tear in your extensor tendon will only get larger and larger.
Larger tear = larger pain!
The majority of individuals suffering from outer elbow pain are oblivious to the fact that they even have an injury.
It’s not until their condition worsens and their elbow pain becomes so bad that they are unable to participate in their normal everyday activities or it affects their work performance that they actually stop to assess their injury.
Here’s What You Should Do Next
Step 1: Grab yourself your favourite beverage
Step 2: Click here to Watch this video
Step 3: Learn the 5 simple steps to quickly erase tennis elbow from the comfort of home
Step 4: Get back to all your favourite sports, hobbies or activities