How to Prevent Burning Pain in Your Elbow

How to Prevent Burning Pain in Your Elbow

Have you ever lifted your coffee cup and felt a searing pain in your elbow? This common issue is often the result of tennis elbow, a condition that affects a tendon outside your elbow. Fortunately, treatment options like using an arm massage tool can help alleviate your pain by reducing muscle tension and promoting circulation.

Common Causes of Burning Pain in Elbow

Several conditions could be to blame for the burning sensation in your elbow. Regardless of the cause, the first step toward finding relief should be contacting a professional, such as a doctor or physical therapist, who can help you treat the underlying issue.

Tennis Elbow

The most prevalent cause of elbow tendinitis is tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, which causes the tendon on your elbow's outer side to become inflamed or damaged. This could be from repetitive movements, forearm muscle tension, or elbow trauma from playing sports or using tools. 

Tennis elbows affect more than just tennis players. People from diverse occupations, including painters, plumbers, carpenters, cooks, auto workers, and butchers, are susceptible to it, both men and women.

Golfer's Elbow

Although not as widely known as tennis elbow, golfer's elbow, or medial epicondylitis also causes a burning sensation in the elbow. It occurs when the medial epicondyle tendon inside the elbow is injured or inflamed. Any sport or activity that involves repetitive arm motions could contribute to the golfer's elbow.

Nerve Compression

Another cause of severe elbow pain is nerve compression or entrapment. This usually involves the ulnar nerve and occurs when the nerve becomes pinched as it travels through the elbow, resulting in a condition called cubital tunnel syndrome. Cubital tunnel syndrome can cause a range of problems, including arm and wrist issues similar to those with carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS).

Symptoms to Watch Out For

  • Persistent pain: Note any burning or an ache along the outside of the forearm and elbow. Your initial discomfort may seem manageable, but the pain can intensify with time. The pain may spread down to your wrist, even at rest, and intensify when lifting and gripping small objects like a coffee cup.
  • Numbness or tingling: If your tennis elbow progresses without intervention, you may experience numbness or tingling in your hand, as well as potentially an elbow deformity, swelling, and bruising.
  • Weakness in your arm: An often overlooked but critical symptom of elbow conditions like tennis elbow is a weak grip or general weakness. You may need help to hold onto, lift, or manipulate objects.

Seeing your healthcare provider when you notice these symptoms is critical to receiving a proper diagnosis and treatment. Don't hesitate to seek help — it's necessary for the long-term health of your elbow joint.

Treatment Options for Elbow Pain

Suppose the burning pain in your elbow is relatively mild. In that case, your doctor or physical therapist may recommend one or more non-surgical treatment options.

Foam Rolling

Foam rolling, or self-myofascial release, is one way to manage elbow pain, particularly tennis elbow. It can improve circulation, stimulate healing, and reduce muscle tension. Try relieving your elbow pain using a foam roller on the surrounding muscles to help alleviate the stress on your affected tendon at the elbow joint.

Rest & Ice

Taking time off to rest can sometimes be the most effective way to handle elbow pain. Simply resting could lessen the load on your elbow, preventing further damage and enabling your recovery. In addition to rest, ice can help reduce inflammation and temporarily relieve pain.

Anti-inflammatory Medications

In addition to rest and ice, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen or naproxen can help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain. However, these medications are short-term solutions. Suppose you find you need to use anti-inflammatory medications long term. In that case, it's a sign you need to reassess your treatment plan with a qualified healthcare professional.

Bracing

A tennis elbow brace can reduce the stress on your affected tendons by limiting their movement, allowing them to heal more effectively. Bracing is particularly effective when combined with rest.

Physical Therapy

For chronic or severe elbow pain, a physical therapist can provide tailored exercises to help strengthen the elbow. This will increase the elbow's range of motion and minimize future damage. Physical therapy techniques such as wrist extension and flexion stretch, strengthening exercises, and stress ball squeezes are all essential for rehabilitating the elbow and preventing a recurrence of the condition.

Surgical Intervention

If conservative treatments fail, surgical options such as arthroscopy or open surgery may be necessary to remove your inflamed tissue and reattach healthy tendon tissue. Note, however, that the need for this is rare. Getting a proper diagnosis should always be the first step in any treatment plan for your elbow pain. Discuss your options with your healthcare provider to determine which suits your condition and lifestyle best.

Preventing Burning Pain in Your Elbow

Poor technique in activities that exert repetitive strain on the elbow, such as sports or daily tasks around the house, is a common cause of elbow pain. By ensuring that you perform tasks with the correct form, you can significantly reduce your risk of developing conditions like tennis elbow.

Adding specific stretching and strengthening exercises to your fitness regimen can also help prevent burning elbow pain. Eccentric, isometric, and static stretching exercises are all effective preventative measures.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can be mistaken for tennis elbow? 

Due to similar symptoms, tennis elbow and golfer's elbow are often confused. Both conditions affect the tendons surrounding the elbow joint, causing inflammation and pain.

Should you massage elbow tendonitis? 

Deep tissue massage on the forearm, such as with a foam roller, can help relieve pain from elbow tendonitis or tennis elbow. This method promotes circulation and can lead to positive outcomes when combined with friction therapy on the tendons of the elbow joint.

What causes a burning pain in the elbow? 

Elbow tendonitis, which features symptoms of pain and tenderness outside the elbow, often leads to a burning sensation. Increased pain can occur in the morning or night, mainly when using your hand or arm.

What underlying disease causes elbow pain? 

Post-traumatic arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis commonly cause elbow pain. Both conditions involve inflammation within your elbow joint and can damage tissue.

How do I know if I have bursitis or tennis elbow? 

Tennis elbow pain is related to tendon conditions. In contrast, bursitis pain results from inflammation or irritation of the fluid-filled pads (bursae) that cushion your joints, including your elbow. Discuss your symptoms with your doctor to receive an accurate diagnosis.

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