Arm or elbow pain
Arm or elbow pain

Elbow and arm pain isn't usually a sign of anything serious.  If it doesn't go away after a few weeks, see a GP.

How you can ease elbow and arm pain yourself

Try these things for a couple of days:

  • put a pack of frozen peas wrapped in a tea towel on your arm - do this for 5 minutes, 3 times a day
  • take painkillers like paracetamol or ibuprofen
  • raise the arm if it's swollen

See a GP if:

  • the pain doesn't away after a few weeks

Get an urgent GP appointment if your arm:


  • hurts when you exercise but the pain goes away when you rest
  • is swollen and you have a very high temperature or feel hot and shivery

These can be signs of a heart problem (angina) or an infection.

Go to a minor injuries clinic or A & E if you've injured your arm and:

  • it's extremely painful and difficult to move
  • you have bruising and swelling
  • you have tingling and numbness
  • you heard a snap and your arm has changed shape

These could be signs of a broken arm and you need an X-ray.

Find a minor injuries unit or A & E here

Call 999 if:

  • the pain has come on suddenly and your chest feels like it's being squeezes

These could be a sign of a heart attack or stroke.

Causes of elbow and arm pain

Apart from an injury, these things can cause arm pain.

Don't self-diagnose. See a GP if you're worried.

Main symptom

Pain, stiffness, difficulty moving, swelling

Possible cause

tendonitis, for example tennis elbow

Main symptom

Pain, tenderness, bruising, swelling

Possible cause

sprains and strains

Main symptom

Pain, stiffness coming down from the shoulder

Possible cause

frozen shoulder

Main symptom

Pain and stiffness in the joints

Possible cause


Main symptom

Temperature of 38C or above, feeling shivery, skin broken around the shoulder

Possible Cause

inflamed shoulder (bursitis)

Call NHS Direct Wales

If you can't speak to your GP or don't know what to do next call NHS Direct Wales on 0845 46 47 or NHS 111 if available in your area.

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The information on this page has been adapted by NHS Wales from original content supplied by NHS Choices.
Last Updated: 04/10/2018 10:16:09