Elbow pain usually isn't serious, but because you use your elbow in so many ways, elbow pain can definitely affect your life. Your elbow is a complex joint that allows you to extend and flex your forearm and rotate your hand and forearm. Most movements are a combination of these actions, and you may sometimes find it difficult to describe what exactly brings on the pain.

Seek emergency care if you have:

  • An obvious deformity in your elbow
  • A protruding bone

Call your doctor right away if you have:

  • Severe pain, swelling and bruising around the joint
  • Trouble moving your elbow normally, using your arm or turning your arm from palm up to palm down and vice versa

Schedule an office visit if you have:

  • Elbow pain that doesn't improve after several days of home care
  • Pain that occurs even when you're not using your arm
  • Increasing redness, swelling or pain in the injured area

Self-care
Most elbow pain improves with simple home treatments, such as:

  • Rest. Avoid the activity that caused your injury.
  • Ice. Place an ice pack on the sore area for 15 to 20 minutes three times a day.
  • Compression. Use a compression bandage to reduce swelling.
  • Elevation. Keep your arm elevated to help reduce swelling.
Apr. 09, 2013