Elbow Pain

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At Peak Wellness and Chiropractic, we’ve had several patients come in to the office complaining of elbow pain. Have you experienced elbow pain and were unable to relieve the soreness? Or maybe you have noticed weaker grip strength in your hand?

Well, you have come to the right place…

First lets look at the anatomy of the elbow

There are three bones that connect at the elbow: the humerus, that connects the elbow to the shoulder; the ulna, which is the stationary bone in the lower arm connecting the elbow to the wrist and the radius, which rotates around the ulna allowing the lower arm to twist.

The muscles that flex the elbow are found in the upper arm. They are the brachialis, brachioradialis and biceps brachii. The lower arm muscles that help extend the elbow are triceps brachii and the anconeus.  When any of these are not working properly, elbow pain may occur.

Causes of Elbow Pain


Image credit: IdealHealth.com


Elbow Joint Pain

In my experience, the most common elbow diseases that I see in patients are directly caused by injury:

  • Tendonitis is the most common injury and is caused by overuse of the tendons in a joint. Tendonitis on the inside of the elbow is commonly referred to as “tennis elbow”. Read my blog on tennis elbow exercises. Tendonitis pain experienced on the inside of the elbow is called “golfer’s elbow.”
  • Fracture – There are three bones at the elbow joint and any combination of these bones may be involved in a fracture which is a slight crack or break in the bone. If you can fully extend your elbow then it is likely not fractured but an x-ray is the best way to rule this out.
  • Dislocation – is when one of the bones in the elbow joint moves completely out of place. This usually happens due to trauma with hyperextension of the elbow joint.
  • Bursitis – The bursae are located at the points where muscles and tendons attach at the joints. Their main purpose is to help protect the joint. When the bursae become inflamed they start to cause pain and swelling. One way the bursae can become inflamed is through overuse.



Conservative care is the primary form of treatment that should be diagnosed for most patients as long as they do not have a dislocation or fracture. Conservative care involves teaching the patient the proper movement patterns to be able to heal without the use of surgery and medications. Examples of conservative care to treat elbow pain include, but are not limited to, chiropractic caremassage therapy, and acupuncture.

Tendonitis and bursitis are often respond well to conservative care. Fractures or dislocations must first be x-rayed and evaluated by a medical doctor for possible casting in order to heal properly.

At Peak Wellness and Chiropractic, we work through the following steps when evaluating patients experiencing elbow pain:

  1. Proper assessment of the joint and arm/shoulder complex must be completed. (i.e – range of motion, orthopedic tests, neurological tests, movement screens and postural exams)
  2. Palpation (physical examination by feeling the tissues) of the local area to be able to evaluate hypertonicity or unusually tight muscles.
  3. Once evaluated and fractures or dislocations have been ruled out, then muscle-testing using the NKT protocol will help establish which muscles are being overworked and which muscles are not being worked enough. (When a muscle isn’t used properly, other muscles will overcompensate which can cause pain).
  4. Release the muscle(s) or joint that are found to be hypertonic or not moving.
    • Through palpation and muscle testing I will be able to pinpoint the muscle or joint that needs to be adjusted. Once adjusted the area will be able to move and function the way it was supposed to.
  5. Activate the muscle(s) exhibiting compensation patterns. This means that they are either over or under used causing other muscles to move improperly.
    • Once a compensation pattern has been figured out, we work to strengthen the muscle that is not firing properly. In order to retrain this pattern specific activation (strengthening) of a muscle needs to be completed.
  6. Re-check to make sure the treatment worked.
  7. Apply RockTape to the area to help with healing and relaxing the tissues.
  8. Apply ice and make sure patient understands how to reinforce the new movement patterns in their day to day movement so as to prevent the return of elbow pain.

Elbow Joint Pain

If you noticed that your grip strength has gotten worse and now you are having pain near the elbow, the wrist extensors in your elbow could be taking over the job for the tiny grip strength muscles in your hand. All muscles throughout the body are connected. When you reach for a cookie you are not just using one muscle so the days of just diagnosing pain in one muscle are over. The whole group or area should be evaluated.

Checking both muscles and joints are important because if a joint is not moving properly, like in the above example, symptoms will never fully go away.

What to Do About Elbow Pain in Apex?

If you know someone who has been complaining of elbow pain, tell them about Dr. Megan at Peak Wellness and Chiropractic in Apex. I am here to help and educate people about different treatment options! What to do about elbow pain in Apex, NC?  Call us at 919-249-6461.