When to See a Doctor for Chronic Elbow Pain

Small aches and pains are easy to ignore. If you have some elbow pain out of the blue, you probably ignore it, maybe take some over-the-counter pain reliever, and wait to see if it gets better. But at what point do you decide the pain is bad enough or has gone on long enough that you need to see a doctor? Here are some guidelines for when to make an appointment.

Repetitive Motion

If you use the elbow in repetitive motion throughout the day, such as with work activities or hobbies, you might develop some chronic elbow pain due to the stress on the joint. Often, this chronic pain will resolve itself over time, but sometimes that chronic pain might be related to “tennis elbow,” which can actually happen to anyone who repetitively moves their elbow in the same way for several hours at a time.

If the chronic elbow pain you feel starts affecting your range of motion or if it hurts so badly you cannot perform those activities, you should see a doctor quickly for diagnosis and treatment.

Persistent Swelling

A bit of swelling on an injured or stressed elbow is not necessarily anything to worry about. But if you have significant swelling that does not go down with RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation), you should make an appointment with your doctor. You could have bursitis or a similar condition that needs to be evaluated and treated.

Joint Stiffness and Limited Range of Motion

If you have chronic joint pain in places other than your elbow, it could all be interrelated. Arthritis is a very common condition, and it can affect any joint in the body, including the elbow. There are many different types of arthritis, although the most common are rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. These conditions will cause significant joint stiffness, particularly around the time of storms. You should make an appointment with a doctor to get treatment so that you will not lose range of motion or have increased pain.

If you are interested in learning more about what could be causing your elbow pain, contact us today to schedule an appointment.