Elbow and arm pain is not usually a sign of anything serious. If it does not go away after a few weeks, contact your GP.
How you can ease elbow and arm pain
Try these things for a couple of days:
- put a pack of frozen peas wrapped in a tea towel on your arm for 5 minutes, 3 times a day
- take painkillers like paracetamol or ibuprofen
- raise the arm if it's swollen
Non-urgent advice: Contact your GP if your arm:
- hurts when you exercise but the pain goes away when you rest
- is swollen and you have a very high temperature or feel hot and shivery
- is extremely painful and difficult to move
- tingles or feels numb
- has been injured and you heard a snapping noise or your arm has changed shape
These can be signs of a heart problem (angina), an infection or a broken arm.
Immediate action required: Call 999 or 112 or go to your nearest emergency department if
- the pain has come on suddenly
- your chest feels like it's being squeezed
These could be signs of a heart attack or stroke.
Causes of elbow and arm pain
Apart from an injury, these things can cause arm pain.
Do not self-diagnose. See your GP if you're worried.
|Main Symptoms||Possible cause|
|Main Symptoms Pain, stiffness, difficulty moving, swelling||Possible cause tendonitis (for example, tennis elbow)|
|Main Symptoms Pain, tenderness, bruising, swelling||Possible cause sprains and strains|
|Main Symptoms Pain, stiffness coming down from the shoulder||Possible cause frozen shoulder|
|Main Symptoms Pain and stiffness in the joints||Possible cause arthritis|
|Main Symptoms Temperature of 38C or above, feeling shivery, skin broken around the shoulder||Possible cause inflamed shoulder (bursitis)|
Content supplied by the NHS and adapted for Ireland by the HSE