How do I Choose the Best Elbow Pain Relief?

Madeleine A.

Choosing the best elbow pain relief depends on the cause of the pain. Frequently, elbow pain is caused by a tendon injury, sprain, or arthritic changes. For these conditions, pain relievers such as ibuprofen can offer elbow pain relief and improve elbow mobility. Other pain relievers such as acetaminophen can also be an effective elbow pain remedy, however, it typically is ineffective in reducing swelling.

The elbow joint.
The elbow joint.

A elbow injury can be caused by playing sports such as tennis or baseball. In these cases, the elbow should be rested to prevent further damage to the joint. Splinting the arm can sometimes allow the injury to heal, bringing elbow pain relief. The application of ice to the elbow throughout the day can relieve not only pain, but inflamed surrounding tissues. Care should be taken so that the ice does not come in direct contact with the skin because this can cause frostbite.

Elbow pain is common for players of sports such as tennis or baseball.
Elbow pain is common for players of sports such as tennis or baseball.

Occasionally, when pain is severe or prolonged, the physician might recommend injections of corticosteroids for elbow pain relief. These injections can help restore function and relieve pain. Sometimes, however, the injections need to be repeated, and local tissue irritation can occur. It is also important to note that corticosteroid injections do not work immediately. It can take a month or more before the patient notices elbow pain relief.

An x-ray may be performed to determine the severity of an elbow injury.
An x-ray may be performed to determine the severity of an elbow injury.

Heat applied to the elbow might be preferable to ice because it can increase circulation to the area and promote healing. A heating pad set to low can bring elbow pain relief, but like ice, the heating pad should not directly come in contact with skin. Elbow pain medicine such as sports creams can also bring elbow pain relief. Typical ingredients in these preparations include aspirin and extracts from hot peppers. Many sports creams are odorless, so people can feel confident using them as directed, and not concern themselves with a telltale scent.

Tendon injuries are often a cause of elbow pain.
Tendon injuries are often a cause of elbow pain.

Sometimes resolution of elbow pain occurs without any treatment at all, and many times, a cause cannot be identified. Diagnostic tests that can help determine the source of elbow pain include x-rays, MRI testing, and blood tests. High levels of uric acid can sometimes cause gout, a painful condition that usually affects the great toe, though it can affect any joint. Medications can lower circulating uric acid, which can dramatically decrease symptoms of gout and reduce joint discomfort such as elbow pain. In extreme cases, or in cases of severe injury, surgery might be recommended for elbow pain relief.

A heating pad set to a low temperature can provide relief for elbow pain.
A heating pad set to a low temperature can provide relief for elbow pain.

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