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Elbow Pain

The elbow is a hinge joint formed by the humerus of the upper arm and radius and ulna of the lower arm. The elbow allows bending and straightening motions as well as rotation of the forearm and wrist.

It is common to have referred pain from an elbow problem which can sometimes radiate down into the forearm, although usually not into the hand. Pain locations can vary and you may find it is sore to press over certain areas on either the inside or outside of the elbow. Wrist movements, gripping and twisting motions are also often painful.

If you have had trauma to your elbow and have a significant loss of movement and/or a change in the shape of your elbow then please self-refer to be assessed in person.

What can I do to help?

Pain relief: Simple painkillers (like paracetamol) or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, NSAIDS, (like ibuprofen) are available over the counter and can be very effective but don’t use them for more than 2 weeks without seeking medical advice. You should carefully read the Patient Information Leaflet that is provided with this medication. 

It is advisable to consult your GP or pharmacist before taking additional pain relief if you are currently:

•              taking any form of medication

•              have any other pre-existing medical conditions

•              pregnant

Ice or heat: If your elbow is painful then applying an ice pack, hot water bottle or gels may be helpful for reducing pain. A packet of frozen peas wrapped in a tea towel works well as an ice pack. Leave the peas in place for up to 20 minutes at a time. This can be repeated several times a day. If using gels then check with your GP or Pharmacist if you have other health conditions/medications which may prevent this.

Reducing the strain on your elbow: It is usually best to carry out your normal activities, but try not to overdo it. You need to pace yourself to start with and try to do a bit more each day.

Rest: Aim for a balance between rest and exercise to prevent your elbow from stiffening up. Try to avoid the movements that are most painful, especially those that are repetitive. However, it’s important to remain generally active even if you have to limit how much you do.

Exercise: Exercise is often a helpful treatment for elbow pain and will give the joint strength and flexibility. Below are a few exercises to try for your elbow. They should not aggravate your pain whilst you perform them, if they do, do not push through the pain.

A little post exercise discomfort is not uncommon and not a sign of damage. If you experience pain that regularly lasts for more than 30 minutes after exercise and feel that overall your pain is worsening please stop all exercises and seek advice from the physiotherapy department.

Wrist Extension

Wrist extension

Wrist Extension Exercise 

Sitting next to a table with your forearm supported 

Your wrist and hand should be over the edge (with or without a weight)

Palm facing downwards

Slowly raise your wrist up and return to the starting position


Wrist Flexion


Wrist Flexion Exercises 

With your forearm rested on a table and wrist/hand over the edge 

With your palm up to the ceiling (with or without a weight)

Bend your wrist up and slowly return to the starting position


Bicep Curls

Biceps Loading

Biceps Curl

In standing or sitting

Slowly bend your elbow and bring your hand towards your shoulder

Slowly straighten out again and repeat

(This can be done with or without a weight)


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