Elbow Pain: Why can’t I straighten my arm? Image of man in white shirt and jeans, he is holding his left elbow and it is highlighted red to indicate pain

Elbow pain can come in many forms, from a minor cut or scrape to more serious dislocations and fractures. If you are experiencing elbow pain and cannot straighten your arm, then it's a sign of something which could be on the more serious end. Here's why

Why can't I straighten my arm?

When you find you can’t physically move your elbow to straighten out your arm it is recommended that you have it assessed by a doctor, ignoring the issue could cause permanent damage.

There are a few different reasons why you may not be able to straighten your arm, some of the most common are:

  • Dislocated or hyperextended elbow joint.
  • Fracture in the bones around the elbow.
  • Severe inflammation of the tendons around the elbow.
  • Swelling of the ulnar nerve.

    The above can happen when there is significant trauma affecting the elbow, repeated strain on the joint or a lack of rest of the arm.

    When there is significant pain, a marked increase of symptoms or distinct discolouration or swelling of the affected area, seeking immediate medical support is crucial. However, in many cases, the symptoms can be managed and you can support the joint through recovery while minimising the risk of reinjury. 

    Recovery for an elbow injury

    No matter what type of injury has occurred to the elbow joint, following the RICE principle helps with immediate and long term recovery.

    • Rest: Resting the elbow is one of the most effective ways of recovering the tendons in the joint. Avoid using the arm, especially when it comes to weight-bearing or using your hand.
    • Ice: Whenever there is trauma that affects the elbow, icing it to manage swelling and pain is a great technique. 20 minutes on 20 minutes off is a great rule of thumb here.
    • Compress: Using a bandage or compressive support to provide stability to the elbow muscles helps to speed up the recovery of the muscles and increase healing of any wounds.
    • Elevate: Keeping the joint elevated helps to prevent excessive swelling of the area. Using a sling during the day and a pillow at night helps to keep the recovery of the joint consistent.
    Man wearing a Bauerfeind elbow brace while fixing a car demonstrating how the brace is comfortable enough to wear all day

    Managing elbow pain

    Whether you have recovered from injury and your elbow is moving normally, or it is tight and not moving at full capacity, it's likely you'll feel apprehensive about re-injury. The following simple steps can assist to reduce the risk of injury while still allowing you to participate in (some) exercises and sport: 

    Elbow braces and supports

    Wearing a compressive support or hyperextension preventer while playing sports or engaging in physical activity is a great way to ensure the tendons, muscles and bones in your elbow are supported and stabilised. This will minimise the risk of re-injury and allow you to get on with the game.

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    Stretching and Strengthening

    Targeted stretches keep the muscles limber and provide greater flexibility to the joint. Focusing on strengthening exercises at home, the gym or with a physiotherapist is a great way to help give your elbow the best support it can get.

    For assistance selecting the right product for your needs, book a video consultation with a Bauerfeind expert: Book Video Call, or call us on 1300 668 466.

    Do you have private health? Most private health extras will cover Bauerfeind Products, check to see if yours is included. Bauerfeind Private Health Insurance Enquiry.

    Bauerfeind products are developed at our innovation and manufacturing facility in Zeulenroda, Germany. Based on years of scientific research, our award-winning braces and support garments are highly recommended by medical professionals and athletes worldwide.

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