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Elbow Pain When Bending and Straightening? 7 Possible Causes

Blue Ridge Region / 13 Jun 2024

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by EmergeOrtho
Elbow Pain When Bending and Straightening? 7 Possible Causes

The elbow is one of the most extensive and most complicated joints in the body, connecting the bones of the forearm to the upper arm bone through a network of ligaments and muscles. It is one of the most frequently exercised and stressed joints, making it highly prone to injury and conditions that can cause significant pain.

If you are experiencing elbow pain when bending and straightening your arm, you can try some home remedies that may reduce or alleviate the pain. We will take a look at the possible causes of your elbow pain and what you can do at home to make it better.

Possible Causes of Pain in the Elbow When You Straighten Your Arm

Here are a few possible reasons you may be feeling elbow pain when you bend or straighten your arm:

Male golfer swinging golf club on golf course.

Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is a painful condition on the lateral (outside) part of the elbow where the wrist extensor muscles attach to the bone. Tennis elbow is a common condition often affecting middle-aged people of any activity level, including:

  • Baseball and softball players
  • Bowlers
  • Fencers
  • Golfers
  • Tennis, squash, pickleball, and racquetball players
  • Assembly-line workers and auto mechanics
  • Butchers and chefs
  • Carpenters, cleaners, painters, and plumbers
  • Dentists
  • Gardeners and landscapers
  • Manicurists
  • Musicians

Golfer’s Elbow

Golfer’s elbow, also known as medial epicondylitis, is a condition of the medial (inside) tendon, or inner part of the elbow. People with golfer’s elbow have pain on the inside of the elbow when straightening their arm. The pain can extend down the arm, as well. They may also have elbow numbness, tingling, or stiffness. Golfers can get tennis elbow, just as tennis players may get golfer’s elbow.


Bursitis is the inflammation of the bursae—tiny sacs of fluid found in your elbow that prevent the tendons from rubbing against your bones and muscles. Sometimes, the bursa will fill with fluid. The swelling, pain, and tenderness can limit your elbow’s ability to bend or straighten.

Ulnar Nerve Entrapment

Also referred to as cubital tunnel syndrome, ulnar nerve entrapment occurs when the ulnar nerve—the nerve that travels from your neck down into your hand—becomes constricted or irritated. The most common place for nerve constriction is behind the inside part of the elbow. Symptoms of this syndrome include numbness and tingling in the hand and fingers.

Biceps Tendinitis

Biceps tendinitis is the inflammation of the biceps tendon—which connects your bicep muscles to the inside of your elbow joint. Tendinitis can cause elbow pain when straightening or bending your elbow. This tendon can also tear or completely rupture, which may cause intense pain.

Elbow Osteoarthritis

Elbow osteoarthritis results from a breakdown and wearing away of the protective cartilage that covers the bones. Although typically caused by age and genetics, prior injuries can increase the risk.


Elbow pain felt when you straighten your arm can be caused by dislocation, but it is rare. The elbow joint can dislocate if you fall on your arm while fully extended. You will see noticeable bruising and swelling and feel significant pain in the elbow when straightening your arm.

Home Treatments for Elbow Pain

If you feel elbow pain when straightening or bending your arm, you can try some of these home remedies that have been shown to minimize or alleviate the pain:

Rest: Take a break from the activity that is causing the pain.

Medication: Take an over-the-counter pain reliever or anti-inflammatory, according to the instructions on the label.

Ice: Apply ice packs to your elbow for 15 to 20 minutes at a time, 3 to 4 times a day for several days. Wrap the ice packs in a thin towel to protect your skin.

Stretching: Stretching exercises done daily, before and after an activity, may increase flexibility and reduce strain.

Strengthening: Your doctor might suggest specific strength-training exercises for your elbow.

Brace: Your doctor might recommend wearing a counterforce brace to reduce tendon and muscle strain.

Massage: Soft, gentle massage may soothe your muscles and reduce pain.

Professional Treatments for Elbow Issues

If your elbow pain persists after trying these home remedies, you should see a doctor. At EmergeOrtho-Blue Ridge Region, we have six board-certified, fellowship-trained surgeons with extensive experience in a range of advanced treatments and procedures for the elbow and arm, including:

Check out a recent 5-star review of our Hendersonville location:

“I cannot say enough good things about this practice. Everyone I have encountered, from the front desk to the medical staff has been professional but friendly, concerned about patient care and comfort. I just had my follow-up from my second surgery by Dr Brooks, and couldn’t be more pleased. Communication with patients and PT is clear and comprehensive.”
– S. Burkett

Schedule an appointment today to see our professional, friendly elbow team.

A New Level Of Orthopedic Care Has Emerged

EmergeOrtho-Blue Ridge Region patients benefit from a full range of orthopedic services, including diagnostics, imaging, treatment, physical and occupational therapy, and pain management. From conservative care to surgical interventions, our team of specialists provides expert care and real results. Self-schedule or request your appointment today.