Help identifying inner elbow pain, can't straighten arm
by Barry Allen
Barry's elbow pain location anatomy graphic
I am a 39 year old male and live in Maryland. I am in good physical health. Average weight. Average height. No medical history. Pretty much problem free my entire life.
Several days ago I woke up with minor pain in my left arm / elbow. It was an unusual pain meaning that I could not identify the exact location of the pain. Honestly, I couldn't tell if it was coming from my elbow, bicep or forearm. There was a slight increase in pain when straightening my arm but nothing alarming.
I did not work out prior or exercise, fall or bump my arm to explain the pain. It wasn't severe, I figured I slept on it wrong or something, so I ignored it.
The next day it hurt worse with much more pain when trying to straighten my arm and due to the severity of the pain, I was now able to identify the location of the pain.
The pain SEEMS to be coming from directly where my arm bends (crelbow???) to about 1 inch towards my bicep. Also on the inside of my elbow (1 inch towards my bicep) closest to my body when my palm is facing up. Again I ignored it with the exception of getting into my hot tub and letting the water jets massage away at the point of pain. It seemed to lessen the pain but only temporary.
The following day... even worse pain. Could't straighten my arm and now with a sharp stabbing pain coming from the left side of my crelbow (or the part of the arm directly opposite of the elbow that creates the interior angle of the elbow.) Now, maybe, I also feel some discomfort in my forearm but I can't be sure. It may just be the throbbing pain coming from my elbow/bicep.
1 day later.... same symptoms only worse and now the pain is becoming unbearable. I have an appointment with my doctor but based on what I have heard from others, this my not help as much as expected and I may be in for a long road ahead depending on the actual cause of the problem.
Do you have ANY suggestion as to what this can be? Possible treatment? The pain is not getting any better. The pain is constant 24 x 7 to the point of not being able to sleep through the night.
The pain is very severe when trying to straighten my arm and I did nothing to damage or injure my arm.
I can say that if I slowly straighten my arm, the pain go's away a little then I can move my arm (like a simulated bicep curl) without the stabbing pain. I don't have any issues with hand strength in that arm or pain in my wrist or fingers. I don't have weakness in my arm or increased pain when curling with a weight. Only time pain increases is just when straightening my arm.
Thank you in advance for your time.
P.S. I have been known to sleep with my head ON my arm. Sort of using my bicep like a pillow of sorts. My arm will be pointing towards the headboard of the bed and bent with my forearm and hand following the headboard up towards the ceiling.
I have woken up in the past with my arm in pain from it falling asleep due to this... just not recently
or within the last year. I have also been known to sleep with my arm in the same position under my pillow. It isn't intentional.... just seems to happen that way during the night.
I don't know if I slept this way in the past week or not or if that caused my situation.
I attached a picture. The circle on the thumb side is where there is a shooting when I straighten my arm.
The circle on the pinky side is where there is a shooting pain if I press in with my fingers. The area between and including both circles is where it hurts 24x7 but it isn't a shooting pain.
Thank you for your time.
Huh. Interesting. Can't say I've heard this particular scenario before.
1. If you were having a heart attack, you'd know by now, I think.
2. Doesn't sound like Tendonitis at all.
3. If you had a deep vein thrombosis (blod clot) in your arm from sleeping on it weird, that would give you this kind of pain....but it's not likely.
Now, if you had swelling, or redness, or you just had surgery, or other physical ailments/illnesses/disabilities that would be different. If you were REALLY concerned about it you could go get an DVT ultrasound test.
4. It hurts when you straighten your arm only. And when at rest. But NOT when you do a bicep curl or other actions?
That's kind of weird. (meaning, not common.)
At this point, I'm going with that some part of your muscle(s) is stuck in spasm. As in, you have a killer trigger point (bunch of muscle fibers stuck constantly firing).
That you can straigten it slowly with less pain than if you straighten it quickly, that is one clue towardst that.
Between Inflammation setting neuro-receptors on edge, and spastic muscle not liking anything fast or surprising, that makes sense to me.
Tell me more about what's going on.
1. Feel around in your triceps and biceps area, and look for a little, pea or smaller sized nodule of TIGHT, SPASMY muscle. It will be hiding in there, and will be very active, tight, and potentially set of pain and bigger spasm if you get on it.
If you find it (could have more than one), give it static pressure until something happens. Ideally, it will *poof* let go and disappear.
2. Read about and dose up with some Magnesium.
3. Drink a lot more water for the next week.
4. Keep poking around till you find a hot spot. Chances are, there's just something stuck in spasm and it's not letting go.
5. If you can, ice the hell out of the arm. 5 gallon bucket full of arctic cold ice water, if you can even get your arm deep enough in it. Frozen water bottle massage is a good secondary option.
6. Keep me updated. Ask any other questions.
Joshua Tucker, B.A., C.M.T.
The Tendonitis Expert