Pinched Nerve in Elbow: Problems and Solutions

A pinched nerve in your elbow occurs when the ulnar nerve becomes pinched or decompressed due to an injury or strenuous activity. When this occurs it can be very painful and should be addressed in a timely fashion, as avoidance can have long-term adverse effects. Ultimately, an untreated, pinched nerve in your elbow can lead to ulnar neuropathy and cubital tunnel syndrome. In many cases, the pinched nerve in your elbow can be relieved with home remedies. However, it is important that you consult your doctor if pain worsens or continues over time.


  • Loss of sensation in the hand or forearm
  • Tingling sensation in fingertips or side of hand
  • Loss of strength in hand or arm
  • Limited mobility with arm or hand
  • Sharp pain shooting down forearm into your hand

As is the case with other pinched nerves, make sure to avoid rigorous activity and give your elbow plenty of rest. You can apply a hot or cold pack to your elbow for 15-20 minutes every few hours. Anti-inflammatory medications may also help in reducing swelling. In more advanced cases, your doctor may recommend surgical methods to release the pinched nerve in your elbow. Some of these procedures include an electro-myleogram, which tests the nerves to make sure they are working correctly. Injections, chiropractic work and physical therapy may also be recommended by a specialist.

Additional tips:
What causes elbow pain?
The elbow is a very mobile part of the arm as it is involved in bending, lifting and flexing. It is considered to be a ball and socket joint and a hinge joint and is made up of three bones and various ligaments. Some common issues that occur in the elbow include arthritis, tendinitis, bursitis and tennis elbow. Inflammation and tendon injuries are also common issues that affect the elbow. In more severe cases, breaks, fractures and dislocations may result in elbow pain.

How can my elbow pain be treated?
When treating elbow pain, the first step is begins with home care. Be sure to give your elbow plenty of rest and not overuse it as this may prolong an injury or condition. Be sure and take pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. If you are suffering from any swelling, elevate your elbow above your heart. You can also place an ice pack over the affected area for 10 minutes, a few times a day. In some cases, it may be a good idea to immobilize your elbow in a sling or wrap your elbow in an ace bandage.

When should I call my doctor?
It is important to get into contact with your doctor if home care is not improving the condition of your elbow. Some symptoms include not being able to use/move your elbow, an increase in swelling, fever or some sort of physical abnormality. Contact your doctor if you notice any bleeding or skin problems as these may be signs of an infection.

How could my doctor address my elbow pain?
Your doctor will perform a physical examination of your elbow to determine where is the specific location of the pain and check to see if you have any problems with mobility. You will likely have to answer some basic questions regarding pain location, severity and longevity. Your doctor may want to have an X-ray or an MRI done of your elbow to check for fractures or breaks. Once these steps have been completed, your doctor will likely provide you with a diagnosis. Once a diagnosis has been given, your treatment will vary depending on the condition. For example, analgesics may be given for arthritis, antibiotics for bursitis and corticosteroid injections for tennis elbow.

In more severe cases, your doctor may recommend that you undergo surgery. This is usually the case in complex dislocations, infections and bad breaks. Some common elbow surgeries include lateral epicondylitis surgery, ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction and elbow replacement.

After undergoing surgery, you may have to immobilize your arm to protect it from damage during your recovery period. You will likely have to complete physical therapy in order to gain muscle mobility and strength.

How can I prevent elbow pain?
The best way to prevent elbow pain is by using positive habits on a daily basis. This includes stretching before any exercise or physical activity. Perform strengthening exercises when you are exercising and where an elbow sleeve while doing so. If you notice that your elbow is sore, immediately address the issue with home care. Do not participate in repetitive activities that cause elbow pain.