Help me with my inner elbow pain!
July 22, 2011 1:39 PM   Subscribe

I get inner elbow pain from playing racquetball or rock climbing. What's going on and how do I fix it?

It's a dull sort of pain centered around my inner elbow, but when it's bad (like it was last night), it can go all the way up into my bicep and down almost of my wrist. I try to massage it, but I can't seem to find any particular sore spot.

Push-ups and bench pressing both seem to help. I've been trying to remember to do a few push-ups in between each racquetball game when I play, but sometimes I forget, or the pain doesn't start until after I've finished playing.

Sometimes, when I'm bench pressing and my inner elbow is sore, the negative portion of my first rep of each warm-up set is really difficult and kind of hurts, in that same inner-elbow area, but it's a different (good?) kind of pain. Once I get through the first rep, the rest of the set feels okay and the whole affair seems to make my elbow feel better.

Any ideas? No health insurance, so I'd like to avoid seeing a doctor if possible.
posted by joshuaconner to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You need to rest it.

This happened to me while lifting 4 times a week, while climbing 3 times a week, while goaltending.

It was like that for a month and when I finally rested it it healed within a week.
posted by zephyr_words at 1:42 PM on July 22, 2011

Sounds like tennis elbow to me. I had it a few years ago and it took months to fully heal. Read up here and see if it matches your symptoms.
posted by Jamesonian at 1:54 PM on July 22, 2011

You need to rest it and ice it. Ibuprofen is good too. It sounds like the tendonitis that I've had from climbing and is often a result of overuse and/or undertraining of the opposing muscle groups. When I was climbing a lot I tried do extensor work (top of the forearm and the triceps) and chest exercies -- basically, the muscles that balance the forearm flexors, the biceps and the upper back, all of which are used a lot in climbing and racquetball.

Rest is required. Ice will help a lot and working those opposition exercises into your routine once it feels better will help in the long run.
posted by Pantengliopoli at 1:55 PM on July 22, 2011

Oh, also, it was common (for me) that the first few reps/problems/swings helped loosen up the stiffness, but I found that it prolonged the irritation and would often feel worse the next day. Rest really was key.
posted by Pantengliopoli at 1:57 PM on July 22, 2011

Rest seems to help, but only ever temporarily. I've had the problem on and off for maybe two years, but that's spanned some long periods of little-to-no activity. It always seems to come back once I start being a little active again.

zephyr_words: Over the past two weeks, I've played racquetball 3 times, had 5 or 6 weight training days*, and maybe 2 or 3 days where I just spent half an hour on the (no arms) elliptical. I didn't climb at all, and actually haven't for several months because of the elbow pain. Is that much activity really too much stress on my arm, end of story?

I'm really hoping the answer to this question isn't, "no rock climbing, and twice a week is too much racquetball," because I really enjoy both of those things!

My weight days alternate between squat/bench press/deadlift and squat/press/ab work. Usually they help with the pain if there is any, but keeping the bar locked in on top of my shoulder blades made the pain a lot worse last night.
posted by joshuaconner at 2:03 PM on July 22, 2011

Jamesonian: tennis elbow is pain on the outside of the elbow, while my pain is along my inner elbow. Thank you, though.
posted by joshuaconner at 2:10 PM on July 22, 2011

Google eccentric exercise. You're experiencing soft tissue damage. You can actually strengthen your soft tissue by exercising a muscle while simultaneously lengthening it. In particular, there was a well referenced article in the new york times about tennis elbow and flexbars.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 2:36 PM on July 22, 2011

Here it is:
posted by bink at 3:28 PM on July 22, 2011

Lots of ibuprofen. Like 2-3 pills every four hours, for a week. It keeps the inflammation down and lets you heal.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 4:01 PM on July 22, 2011

If you think you have tennis elbow (or golf elbow) get a brace and wear it while you sleep.

The recommended rest is a good idea but the point is to stop the tendons in the inside of your elbow from moving. If you have inflammation of the tendon (tendonitis) or tendon sheathe (tenosynovitis) then you want the tendon to be used as little as possible. A brace will immobilize your elbow and stop the tendon from moving. Wearing the brace all day can be a hassle and will tend to cause you to compensate with other parts of your body. Which can lead to the symptoms simply moving to your shoulder or wrist. Wearing the brace to bed will immobilize your arm at a time that you wouldn't be using it anyway and give your tendons the rest they need.

Don't be discouraged if it seems to take a long time to heal. The inflammation often develops for awhile before it becomes painful enough to notice and it takes a comparable amount of time to heal. When you start to feel better give yourself a little more time before you jump back into action.
posted by keeo at 6:38 PM on July 22, 2011

P. S. "Tennis elbow" what it is called when you feel it on the on the outside of the elbow. "Golf elbow" is exactly the same condition but felt along the inside of the elbow.
posted by keeo at 6:18 AM on July 23, 2011

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