female physical therapist examining her male patients left elbow

Elbow Pain

Whether caused by sports or overuse, physical therapy has effective techniques for easing elbow pain.

Physical therapy for elbow pain

Elbow pain and injuries are very commonly seen in athletes but are not isolated to this patient population. Common elbow pain symptoms you may experience include elbow and forearm pain, difficulty gripping, stiffness of the elbow and difficulty reaching, pushing, or pulling.

Causes of elbow pain

There are many potential causes of elbow pain. For example, repetitive activities at work, in sport, or during daily living–such as typing, throwing, or gardening–can lead to tendon or nerve injuries that cause pain in the elbow and forearm.

fit man using resistance bands with female physical therapist

Elbow pain symptoms

Patients suffering from elbow pain may experience the following symptoms:

  • Pain at the elbow that may radiate to the forearm
  • Weak grip
  • Stiffness of the elbow
  • Difficulty reaching, pushing, or pulling
young male physical therapist treating female patient with elbow pain

How we treat elbow pain

A physical or occupational therapist will complete a comprehensive evaluation to determine the underlying cause of your elbow pain and create a customized program to address your needs. This examination may include screening the entire upper quarter, including your shoulder and neck. Treatment for elbow pain may include:

  • Manual therapy
  • Modalities include heat, ice, ultrasound, iontophoresis, and electrical stimulation
  • Strengthening exercises targeted at the entire upper extremity
  • Flexibility exercises
  • Splinting, if needed
  • Dry needling

Elbow pain diagnoses physical therapy can treat

Multiple issues can cause elbow pain. Here are a few of the most common:

  • Lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow)
  • Medial epicondylitis (golfer’s elbow)
  • Growth plate injuries (little league elbow)
  • Nerve entrapments
  • Ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) tear
  • Bursitis
  • Muscle strains
  • Elbow dislocation
  • Elbow fracture

Elbow pain FAQs

How can I alleviate elbow pain that has been nagging for more than a month?

Tendonitis is an inflammation of a tendon and it can be caused by direct trauma, overuse, or a result of a dysfunction in another area like the shoulder or even the neck. While rest and medication may help inflammation to subside for a period, it does not address the cause of the inflammation in the first place. Booking an appointment with one of our expert physical therapists can help you get evaluated and receive a treatment plan customized to your needs.

Elbow pain resources

Elbow Pain
Elbow Pain

How to Tell if Your Elbow Pain is Serious

Elbow pain has a wide range of potential causes. Some are serious—and others may just be minor aches and pains. But persistent elbow pain should...

What is tennis elbow

What Is Tennis Elbow?

Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, is a painful condition of the elbow that occurs from overuse. The tendons that attach muscle to bone become overloaded...

sprained elbow

Common Symptoms of a Sprained Elbow

The elbow joint is one of the most complex in the human body. A sudden, forceful bend or twist in an awkward position can leave...

What to expect

Your first physical therapy appointment is about creating a personalized treatment plan based on your health history, diagnosis, and goals. Here’s what you can expect at your first physical therapy appointment:

Your first appointment will last about an hour. Please arrive 15 minutes early.

If applicable, bring your physician referral or prescription, insurance card, paperwork, ID, and co-payment.

At your appointment, we’ll do an initial evaluation and discuss your care plan.

*Services are not available at every location. Visit our Locations page for more details.

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