5 Ways to Recover from Elbow Pain
Causes of Elbow Pain
Elbow pain can be caused from a number of injuries. The most common include:
- Ligament strains
- Muscle strains
- Irritation of bursas (bursitis)
- Tendon injuries
Most elbow injuries occur because of overuse. Prolonged activity putting soft tissue under stress can cause tissue damage and cause you pain. Even when treated appropriately, unless you address what originally caused the injury it can be difficult to stay pain free.
These 5 keys to recovering from elbow pain will accelerate your healing, prevent reoccurring injuries, and get you back to enjoying life!
1. Understand your pain
In order to effectively recover from your elbow injury you need to understand what is causing your pain. Talking to your physiotherapist will help you understand what is happening around your elbow and help you avoid aggravating your injury. Knowledge is power, and understanding your injury is the first step to permanent recovery.
2. Gradual return to activity
If your pain has disappeared it doesn’t necessarily mean your elbow is healed. Most soft tissue injuries take at least 6 weeks to recover, and in the meantime it’s crucial you don’t overdo it. Allow your elbow to rest, and avoid activities which are heavily elbow dependent. Your return to activity needs to be a gradual process, especially if the activities you are returning to may have contributed to the injury in the first place. It is easy to become frustrated, but patience is key to avoid re-injuring your elbow.
3. Begin a daily stretching program
Stretching is vital to elbow recovery and avoiding further injury. It helps loosen your muscles and prevents unnecessary stress on your tendons. The muscles you should focus on stretching are your wrist flexors and extensors (Both originating near the elbow). When these muscles become tight it places additional stress near the elbow, making you more susceptible to injury. Stretching should always be pain free and should be held for at least 30 seconds. Your physiotherapist will tell you which stretches are appropriate for your specific injury.
4. Maintain your exercise program
Even if your elbow is feeling better, you should continue exercises and maintain contact with your physiotherapist. Your exercises will need to be progressed as your strength develops, and your technique monitored. Just because you’re not in pain anymore it doesn’t mean you should stop your exercises, do not become complacent!
5. Take breaks and promote recovery
Minimising repetitive activities is essential to recovering from elbow pain. Together, you and your physiotherapist should identify repetitive tasks which contributed to your injury. If these activities cannot be completely avoided (i.e. part of a job) while you recover, it is important to take regular breaks to prevent your pain flaring up. During these breaks, ice therapy can be effective at reducing inflammation and relieving pain. Make sure you discuss the use of ice with your physiotherapist to ensure appropriate and safe use.
Ben Murphy (Guest Blog)
BOND University Final Year Physiotherapy Student