What is causing pain in my elbow when straightening my arm?

pain in elbow when straightening arm

If you’re experiencing sharp or shooting pain in your elbow when you straighten your arm, you may have a condition called “tennis elbow.” Tennis elbow is a more commonly used term than lateral epicondylitis, which essentially means an inflamed elbow joint due to overuse. 

While most joint pain occurs when the cartilage in the joints becomes damaged (arthritis), tennis elbow is a bit different. This condition occurs when the muscle that connects the forearm to the outside of the elbow becomes damaged from overuse. This muscle (the extensor carpi radialis brevis [ECRB] muscle) is also responsible for moving the wrist. Therefore, repetitive motions involving the forearm and wrist, such as typing, golfing, tennis, etc., can cause tiny tears in the muscle that lead to inflammation and pain.

Do you need treatment for your elbow pain?

Determining if you need treatment for your elbow pain comes down to a couple of questions:

  1. Has my pain lasted longer than a week or two?
  2. Does my pain hinder me from my daily activities?


If you answered yes to either of these questions, you should consider treatment for your elbow pain. Physical therapy is a proven method of treatment for tennis elbow to help reduce inflammation and pain in the damaged ECRB muscle. 

Our physical therapists will create a personalized treatment plan for you to help improve strength in your damaged forearm muscle and restore range of motion in your elbow and wrist. For many patients, consistent physical therapy appointments eliminates the need for surgery, helping you find the relief you need to get back to your daily activities, like tennis and golf.

If you are interested in learning more about our elbow and wrist physical therapy treatments, contact our team at Holland Physical Therapy today. We offer a complimentary consultation to confirm your diagnosis and determine the best treatment plan for your condition and your recovery goals. Contact our team today.