The elbow joint is a very important joint but is often overlooked because it is not a weight bearing joint and doesn’t develop arthritis generally as we grow old. But it can undergo wear and tear, get injured and the pain in the area can keep us from the daily activities of living like dressing up, combing, cooking, eating food, typing or any activity that requires use of the upper limb. So, taking care of this joint is equally important and one should not ignore the early signs of discomfort. Before we go into the remedies for aching elbows, let’s look at some common conditions of the elbow joints:
- Tendonitis – inflammation of the tendons around the joints
- Bursitis – affects bursae, small sacs of fluid that protect the joints
- Tennis Elbow – lateral epicondylitis (affects the outer tendons of the elbow)
- Golfer’s Elbow – medial epicondylitis (affects the inner tendons of the elbow)
- Osteoarthritis – affects the cartilage, a type of connective tissue found in joints.
- Ligament sprains and strains – may be the result of repeated stress or some trauma
- Dislocation or Fracture of the Elbow – may occur as a result of an injury to the elbow.
Home Remedies For Aching Elbows
- Rest: If you’ve had an injury, best is to give the joint rest and let it heal naturally. Avoid any movements that put pressure on the muscles around the elbow and cause or aggravate the pain.
- Ice- Packs: Applying an ice pack around the painful area can help reduce pain and swelling. You can apply ice packs 2-3 times daily for 10 minutes.
- Use a Sling: If you’re not able to actively rest the arm, use an elbow sling to prevent movement of the arm and give adequate support. This will help reduce the inflammation and pain in the area. You can also remove the sling after regular intervals and perform gentle movements.
- Massage: Gently massaging around the area, with your thumbs, will improve blood circulation in the area, reducing pain and inflammation.
- Simple Exercises – Exercises that gently stretch the muscles around the elbow joint, give relief from pain. The stretches include –
- Wrist Extensor stretch – While standing, arms extended forwards at 90 degrees, flex one wrist and push it with the other hand (both ways- palm facing upwards- forearm supinated and then downwards- forearm pronated). Hold the stretch for 4-5 seconds and relax. You can do 3-5 reps and 1-3 sets each side.
- Wrist Flexor stretch – While standing, arm extended forwards extend one wrist and push it gently with the other hand (both ways- palm facing upwards- forearm supinated and then downwards- forearm pronated). Hold the stretch for 4-5 seconds and relax. You can do 3-5 reps and 1-3 sets each side.
- Pronation and Supination of the forearm – Sitting on a chair with your arm bent at 90 degrees, turn your palms inwards (palm down – pronation) and then outwards (palm up- supination). At the end of the movement use your other hand to assist and apple gently pressure). Hold the stretch for 4-5 seconds and relax. You can do 3-5 reps and 1-3 sets each side.
- Working the finger flexors – The finger flexors originate from above the elbow, so stretching them also gives relief. Sitting on a chair, rest your hand on the thigh and gently start lifting your fingers one by one, starting from your index finger, using the other hand to gently assist the stretching movement. Hold the stretch for 1-3 seconds and relax. You can do 3-5 reps and 1-3 sets each side.
How Can You Prevent Elbow Pain?
1. Strengthen your Elbows: Having strong muscles around the elbow joints, helps prevent injuries and undue stress on the joint. You can do various strengthening exercises using dumbbells, resistance bands or even using your own body weight. The exercises include:
- Elbow Flexion
- Elbow Extension
- Supination of the forearm
- Pronation of the forearm
- Wrist strengthening exercises
- Shoulder strengthening exercises
You can start with 10 reps, 3 sets each and then gradually progress further.
2. Maintain proper posture and use support while doing heavy workouts
3. Use the correct techniques or positions while doing activities that can cause strain to your elbows.
4. Avoid injuries: Following a proper warm up and cool down routine helps to avoid sports injuries.
5. Healthy diet: Including Calcium rich food and Vit D, helps build stronger bones.
While doing workouts, either at home or in a fitness center, it is very important to take control of your body and do everything you can to prevent any injuries, rather than going through the painful process of getting injured and then taking care of it. For best results, it is better to seek guidance from a physiotherapist or a trained fitness expert and then later do the exercises on your own.
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