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Elbow Pain

Elbow problems are common and often improve well within a short period of time with simple treatments.

How does the elbow work?

The elbow is a hinge joint which connects the upper arm (humerus) to the forearm (radius and ulna). Its primary movements are to bend and straighten the elbow.

The elbow joint is supported by ligaments and has several nerves that travel past it.

There are many muscles that attach to the elbow joint which enable you to not only bend and straighten the elbow but also to move the wrist and fingers.





What causes of Elbow Pain 

Elbow pain is most commonly caused by a simple strain or inflammation to tendons or ligaments that attach to it.
Doing a repetitive activity such as gardening, or decorating can lead to this. Stopping or modifying this activity for a couple of weeks should help the pain settle.

Elbow pain from repetitive activities is often referred to as tennis elbow or golfers’ elbow.

How to ease elbow pain yourself

You usually need to do these things for 2 weeks before elbow pain starts to ease.

It can take 4 to 6 weeks to recover fully from mild elbow pain.


  • stay active and gently move your elbow
  • try exercises for elbow pain
  • use pain relief so you can keep moving - try painkillers like paracetamol and ibuprofen, and heat or cold packs

*Add exercises for elbow*



  • do not completely stop using your elbow - this can stop it getting better
  • do not do things that seem to make it worse
  • do not make up your own strenuous exercise

Referral to Occupational Health

If you have not seen improvement in your symptoms after following the advice above, you may require further assessment. You should refer to Occupational Health if:

  • the pain doesn't improve after 3-4 weeks
  • it's very difficult to move your arm or elbow
  • the pain started after an injury or accident, like a fall
  • you are finding it difficult to manage work


We provide a confidential service to all staff and deliver specialist occupational health advice to management.


Opening Times: Monday - Friday 09.00 - 17.00

Occupational Health Service
1st Floor Denbigh House
University Hospital of Wales
Heath Park
CF14 4XW
Tel: 029 2074 3264 (43264 from an internal phone)