Feeling A Burning Sensation In Your Elbow? Here’s How To Treat It

burning pain in elbow

A sudden, searing pain in the elbow, like a jolt of fire racing through your arm – it’s more than just an uncomfortable sensation. It’s a sign, a warning, a mystery waiting to be unraveled. Elbow burning pain can transform simple tasks into unbearable chores, making you wince with every movement. But what is this fiery pain, and why does it strike seemingly out of nowhere? More importantly, how can it be treated, tamed, and potentially prevented?

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore everything from the intricate anatomy of the elbow to the potential underlying causes and cutting-edge treatment options. So, if you’re ready to reclaim control over your elbow and your life, this is the read for you.

Understanding Elbow Anatomy

Three bones meet to form the complex elbow joint: the humerus (upper arm bone), the radius, and the ulna (both forearm bones). Muscles, tendons, and ligaments hold these bones together, allowing the arm to bend and twist.

Here’s how these components might relate to burning pain in the elbow:

  • Bones: Friction or contact between bones can cause pain, often resulting from arthritis or other degenerative conditions.
  • Muscles and Tendons: Overuse or strain in muscles and tendons around the elbow, such as in tennis elbow, can lead to inflammation and a burning sensation.
  • Nerves: Compression or irritation of the nerves that pass near the elbow (e.g., cubital tunnel syndrome) might also result in a burning feeling.

Understanding the basic anatomy of the elbow helps in recognizing potential underlying causes of burning pain, thereby guiding appropriate treatment and care. Though this section is a brief overview, it sets the stage for a deeper exploration of the causes and treatments that follow.

Symptoms Associated With Burning Pain in the Elbow

Symptoms Associated With Burning Pain in the ElbowThe following symptoms may accompany the sensation of burning pain in the elbow, helping you identify whether you may be experiencing this condition:

  • Sharp or dull aching pain
  • Tingling or numbness
  • Swelling or stiffness around the elbow
  • Increased pain with movement or touch
  • Weakness in the forearm or hand
  • Redness or warmth in the area
  • Difficulty in extending or flexing the arm

These signs and symptoms can vary in intensity and may be indicative of different underlying causes. Recognizing them is the first step towards understanding the condition and seeking professional medical advice.

Common Causes of Burning Pain in the Elbow

Common Causes of Burning Pain in the Elbow

Burning pain in the elbow can be both perplexing and distressing. Therefore, understanding its underlying causes can be key to effective treatment. Here’s a look at some common reasons behind this unique pain:

  • Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis): An inflammation of the tendons that can cause a burning sensation, especially during activities that involve gripping or lifting.
  • Golfer’s Elbow (Medial Epicondylitis): Similar to tennis elbow but affects the inner part of the elbow, leading to burning pain during activities like twisting or flexing the wrist.
  • Cubital Tunnel Syndrome: Pressure or stretching of the ulnar nerve can cause a burning feeling, often accompanied by numbness in the fingers.
  • Arthritis: Various forms of arthritis, like rheumatoid or osteoarthritis, can lead to joint inflammation, resulting in a burning sensation in the elbow.
  • Infections: An infection in the elbow joint or surrounding tissue can cause redness, swelling, and a burning type of pain.
  • Trauma or Injury: Accidents, falls, or repetitive strain injuries can lead to burning pain if nerves, tendons, or other soft tissues are affected.
  • Bursitis: Inflammation of the bursa, a small fluid-filled sac in the elbow, can result in pain, swelling, and a burning sensation.

Understanding these causes is the first step towards identifying the most effective treatment for your unique situation. If you’re experiencing these symptoms, consultation with a healthcare provider is essential for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate care.

Diagnostic Approaches for Burning Pain in the Elbow

Diagnostic Approaches for Burning Pain in the ElbowWhen faced with burning pain in the elbow, medical professionals use a combination of diagnostic methods to determine the underlying cause. Here’s a look at the standard approaches:

  • Physical Examination: The doctor will usually begin by asking about your medical history, symptoms, and any specific activities that might be triggering the pain. A physical examination of the elbow, including assessing range of motion, strength, and any tenderness, helps in pinpointing the problem area.
  • Imaging Techniques:
    • X-rays: These can detect bone abnormalities or arthritis.
    • MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging): Useful in visualizing soft tissues, including tendons and ligaments, an MRI might be ordered if there’s a suspected tear or inflammation.
    • CT Scan: Sometimes used to provide more detailed images of the bones and surrounding tissues.
    • Ultrasound: Healthcare professionals may utilize this to evaluate the flow of blood and visualize soft tissue structures.
  • Nerve Conduction Studies: If nerve compression is suspected, like in cubital tunnel syndrome, nerve tests might be performed to measure the nerve’s ability to send electrical signals.
  • Blood Tests: In some cases, blood tests might be ordered to rule out underlying conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or infections.
  • Joint Fluid Analysis: If a healthcare professional suspects a joint infection or gout, they might analyze a sample of fluid from the elbow joint.
  • Referral to Specialist:  Depending on the findings, an orthopedic specialist or physical therapist may evaluate you further and plan your treatment.

These diagnostic approaches combine to offer a comprehensive understanding of what’s causing the burning pain in your elbow, guiding the healthcare provider to prescribe the most effective course of treatment.

Non-Invasive Treatment Options for Burning Pain in the Elbow

Treatment Options for Burning Pain in the Elbow

When dealing with burning pain in the elbow, initial treatments often focus on relieving pain, reducing inflammation, and promoting healing without the need for surgery or other invasive procedures. So, here are some common non-invasive treatment options:

Rest and Activity Modification

Taking a break from activities that exacerbate the pain gives the affected tissues a chance to heal. This might involve avoiding certain movements or modifying the way you perform daily tasks.

Ice and Heat Application

Applying ice can help reduce swelling and numb the area, providing relief from burning pain. Additionally, heat therapy is used to relax and loosen tissues and stimulate blood flow to the area.

Compression and Elevation

Wrapping the elbow in a bandage and elevating it can minimize swelling, further reducing pain.

Over-the-Counter Medications

Non-prescription pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can be effective in managing pain and inflammation.

Physical Therapy

A physical therapist can develop a customized exercise and stretching program to strengthen the affected muscles, improve flexibility, and help prevent future issues. This may also include techniques like massage and ultrasound therapy.

Ergonomic Adjustments

If repetitive activities or posture are causing the pain, healthcare professionals might recommend ergonomic adjustments at work or home to alleviate stress on the elbow.

Splinting or Bracing

Medical professionals might advise wearing a splint or brace in some cases to provide support and limit movement, allowing the affected area to heal.

These non-invasive treatment options often represent the first line of defense against burning pain in the elbow. So, they can be quite effective, especially when started early, under the guidance of a healthcare provider.

When To Consider Surgical Intervention?

When to Consider Surgical InterventionWhile many cases of burning pain in the elbow respond well to non-invasive treatments, there are instances where surgical intervention might become necessary. So, when to consider surgical intervention? Let’s have a look:

  • Persistent Pain and Lack of Improvement: If non-invasive treatments have not provided sufficient relief after an extended period, or if the condition worsens, surgery might be the next step.
  • Severe Damage or Tear: When there is significant structural damage to the tendons, ligaments, or other tissues in the elbow, surgery might be required to repair the affected areas.
  • Underlying Conditions Requiring Surgery: Certain specific conditions, such as severe nerve compression or significant joint deformities, might necessitate surgical intervention.
  • Recovery and Rehabilitation: Post-surgery, a specific rehabilitation program will often be prescribed. This includes physical therapy exercises, monitored by a healthcare provider, to restore strength and mobility. Full recovery time can vary significantly, depending on the type of surgery and the individual’s overall health.
  • Risks and Considerations: Like any surgical procedure, there are risks and potential complications, including infection, nerve damage, or issues with anesthesia. Discussing these risks with the surgeon and understanding the expected outcomes can help in making an informed decision.

Medical professionals generally consider surgical intervention for burning pain in the elbow when other treatments have failed or when there are severe structural problems. Therefore, a thorough discussion with healthcare providers, including an orthopedic surgeon, will help determine the most appropriate treatment plan tailored to the individual’s specific condition and needs.


In conclusion, burning pain in the elbow can be a complex issue, with various underlying causes and a wide range of potential treatments. From understanding your body’s anatomy to recognizing symptoms and exploring non-invasive treatments, an informed approach can make all the difference in managing and overcoming this pain.

When dealing with such a nuanced condition, professional guidance can be invaluable. Whether it’s identifying the root cause, providing targeted therapy, or supporting rehabilitation after surgery, a skilled physical therapist can be a key ally in your journey to recovery. So, if you’re experiencing Elbow pain, physical therapy for elbow pain at PhysioMantra can help: Book an online physical therapy session.