The elbow is one of the most dynamic joints in the human body. Tennis elbow is a prevalent cause of elbow pain, affecting between one and three percent of the population. But the truth is, there are several possible causes.

If you can’t straighten your elbow without pain, we’re here to help. Learn more about the underlying symptoms, causes, and treatments of elbow pain with this definitive guide.

Symptoms of Elbow Pain

It’s important to identify the symptoms and potential causes of elbow pain before choosing the appropriate course of action. Your elbow’s inability to straighten may be affected by the following symptoms:

  • Inflammation or infection
  • Redness or bruising
  • Weak or stiff joints
  • Swelling and tenderness
  • Limited flexibility

Consult a doctor for a precise diagnosis if elbow pain symptoms worsen. This enables them to offer a comprehensive pain management plan.

Why You Can’t Straighten Your Elbow Without Pain

If you can’t fully extend your elbow and experience pain or discomfort in the process, multiple conditions may be responsible. Here are some potential causes:

Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow, or elbow tendonitis, is inflammation of the tendons that connect the forearm muscles to the elbow. Excessive or repetitive arm mobility weakens and damages the forearm muscles.


Bursitis is an inflammation of the bursae, which are tiny, fluid-filled sacs that cushion muscles, bones, and tendons. This causes pain, swelling, and difficulty bending or straightening the elbow joint.

Medical Conditions

Chronic joint conditions can cause elbow pain. Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease that causes bone degradation and joint distortion. Osteoarthritis is the deterioration of the protective cartilage that supports the bones and surrounding tissue.

Elbow Injury

Acute elbow injuries are caused by the sudden impact of an accident or physical activity. Chronic elbow injuries are caused by long-term overuse or repetitive motion due to a stress fracture, tendon tear, or dislocated elbow.

How to Relieve Elbow Pain

It’s crucial to utilize treatment methods that are tailored to your specific cause and symptoms to effectively deal with elbow contracture. Here are some helpful remedies to consider:

Home Remedies

For minor injuries, applying a hot or cold compress to the area can reduce swelling and inflammation. Wearing a brace can help stabilize the bones and tendons around your elbow.

Gentle exercises also promote blood flow and keep the muscles limber. Resting the elbow and avoiding strenuous activities can also reduce discomfort.

Physical Therapy

A physical therapist guides you through personalized exercises that strengthen your arm muscles. This may include stretching to enhance your flexibility and mobility.

Pain Medication

Medications such as ibuprofen, naproxen, and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help relieve pain and inflammation. A doctor may suggest corticosteroid injections to alleviate more severe symptoms.

Surgical Intervention

If non-surgical treatments are ineffective, there are various surgical possibilities. These include debridement, osteotomy, joint replacement, ligament reconstruction, lateral epicondylitis release, and arthroscopic surgery.

An Effective Solution

Elbow pain can significantly impact our daily activities. Rest assured, our expert providers have the competency, compassion, and cutting-edge treatment solutions to effectively diagnose and treat all of your elbow concerns.

We are committed to discovering the root cause of why you can’t straighten your elbow without pain. You deserve to enjoy life to the fullest. Reach out to us at Idaho Shoulder to Hand today.