Most Common Causes of Elbow Pain and Physical Therapy Techniques That Can Help

Injuries or overuse often cause elbow pain. This is because many jobs, sports, and hobbies require repetitive wrist, arm, or hand movements. Elbow pain is frequently the result of issues with muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons, or joints. Sometimes it can be due to arthritis. However, when compared to various other joints, your elbow joint is less likely to have wear-and-tear damage.

Anatomy of the Elbow

Your elbow is a hinged joint made up of several bones: the ulna, the radius, and the humerus. There is cartilage that covers the ends of the bones and a rubbery consistency to the cartilage that enables your joints to easily slide against each other and absorb shock. 

Your bones are fused together with ligaments which form a joint capsule. This is a sac that’s filled with fluid and surrounds the joint, lubricating it. In addition, you also have tendons, muscles, and nerves that all do their part in a functioning elbow.

Common Elbow Injuries

There are numerous ways you can injure an elbow. A few common types of elbow injuries include:

  • Tendonitis: Elbow tendonitis is a sports injury, frequently due to playing golf or tennis. Overusing your elbow can also lead to tendonitis.
  • Sprain: An elbow sprain is an injury to the ligaments that surround your elbow joint. It can occur when you twist or bend your arm forcibly or quickly.
  • Strain: Elbow strains are injuries of the elbow that occur when your tendons or muscles that bend (flex) and straighten (extend) your elbow become stretched.

Rehabilitation and Healing for Elbow Pain

In fact, there are various rehabilitation and healing techniques a physical therapist can use to help treat elbow pain with good results. These techniques are often used to help with:


Exercises to flex, stretch, and strengthen your forearm and wrist muscles can help prevent tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow

Range of Motion (ROM)

Techniques and exercises that help improve ROM in your elbow are essential not just in preventing problems like golfer’s elbow or tennis elbow, but also for overall health. They can help prevent injury and increase joint flexibility.


Strengthening elbow exercises are used in physiotherapy to help in the rehabilitation of individuals who sustained an elbow injury or have undergone elbow surgery. They can help improve or maintain range of motion, regain flexibility, and improve strength in individuals with chronic conditions, such as tennis elbow, elbow arthritis, or elbow bursitis.

Decrease Pain

Often, elbow pain isn’t too serious and tends to go away without treatment. In a lot of situations, physical therapy techniques and exercises are the first course of treatment. A physical therapist will have you perform exercises that can help manage your elbow pain by:

  • Improving strength
  • Increasing mobility
  • Restoring function
  • Creating proper alignment

It’s important you follow all instructions provided by your physical therapist to avoid any further elbow pain or injury.

Increase Function

One of the main benefits of physical therapy to treat elbow pain is its ability to improve function and ease pain. It also helps reduce inflammation and pain in the elbow through the use of manual therapy methods like manipulation and mobilization. These methods help reduce pain and improve joint mobility by releasing tension in the soft tissues that surround your elbow.

Beginner Exercises for Elbow Pain

If you’re experiencing elbow pain, some beginner exercises you can try that can help include:

Bicep Curl

When performed properly, this exercise can help with elbow injury recovery. You’ll hold a dumbbell in each of your hands. Face your palms to the midline of your body to target your biceps. Then, lift the dumbbell, turning your palm to face upwards, or into a supination position. Keep your elbow pointed down as you flex your arm.

Lower the dumbbell while you reverse the motion to the initial starting position. Perform three sets of 10 reps for each arm.


Rest your elbow on a table and grab a hammer, lowering it right to left and then back again, keeping your wrist straight during the motion and controlling the motion. Perform this exercise 10 times.

Wrist Flex

Begin by standing or sitting while extending your arms out in front of you. Bend your wrist down. Gently pull back your fingers with your opposite hand so they’re pointing toward your forearm. Stay in this position for 10 seconds before gradually bringing your hand back to the initial start position. Bend your wrist up and stretch your fingers back gently toward your body, holding on to this position for several seconds. Perform this exercise on each hand for 10 reps.

How Physical Therapy Can Help with Elbow Pain

You don’t have to live with elbow pain. Cawley Physical Therapy and Rehab is dedicated to providing our patients with thorough and beneficial physical therapy services customized for each patient’s individual situation.

Contact us at 570-208-2787 or email to learn more about our services and schedule an appointment.