Nightly Elbow Pain: How Can You Manage It?

Nightly Elbow Pain: How Can You Manage It?

Are you frequently being woken up by sharp or dull pain in your elbow, turning peaceful nights into episodes of discomfort? Elbow pain at night can become a persistent problem that impacts your quality of life, sleep cycle, and general well-being. Often ignored or underestimated, this pain could be a symptom of an underlying health condition or simply the result of daily activities and habits. Welcome to our comprehensive guide on elbow pain at night. We’ll delve into the possible causes, provide potential solutions, and offer some advice on when you should seek medical help to reclaim your restful nights.

Why Do I Feel Elbow Pain At Night?

Why Do I Feel Elbow Pain At Night?Elbow pain at night can be due to a variety of reasons ranging from conditions like arthritis or tennis elbow to issues related to your sleeping position. Below, we’ll explore some of these causes in more detail:

This condition occurs when the ulnar nerve. That passes through the cubital tunnel at the elbow and gets compressed or irritated. When you bend your elbows at night while sleeping. Then, this can increase pressure on the ulnar nerve, leading to pain or numbness.

This condition, typically caused by overuse of the forearm muscles and tendons, can lead to pain and tenderness on the outer part of the elbow. The pain can be worse at night, particularly if the elbow is strained during the day.

Similar to tennis elbow, this condition affects the tendons on the inside of the elbow. And can cause pain that worsens at night.

  • Arthritis

Both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can cause elbow pain. Inflammation from arthritis tends to worsen with rest. That can make the pain more noticeable at night.

  • Sleeping Position

If you sleep in a position that puts pressure on your elbow or keeps your elbow bent for extended periods. Then, this can lead to pain or discomfort.

In this condition, the bursa – a fluid-filled sac that acts as a cushion at the elbow joint – becomes inflamed. This can cause pain, particularly when the elbow rests on a surface, like when sleeping.

Remember, if you’re experiencing persistent elbow pain at night, it’s important to seek medical advice to diagnose the cause accurately and begin appropriate treatment. It’s crucial not to ignore the pain, as it could be a symptom of an underlying condition that needs attention.

How Do I Stop My Elbow From Hurting When I Sleep?

If you’re experiencing elbow pain at night, there are several home remedies and lifestyle changes you can try to alleviate the discomfort. Please note that these suggestions are not a substitute for medical advice. If your pain persists or worsens, you should seek help from a healthcare professional.

Adjust Your Sleeping Position

Your sleeping position can significantly influence your level of comfort and exacerbate or alleviate body pain. If you typically sleep on your side and your elbow is hurting, try sleeping on your other side or your back. Keeping pressure off the affected elbow may help decrease pain and inflammation. For back sleepers, try to keep your arms relaxed at your sides rather than bending your elbows and placing your hands under your head or pillow. Your arm’s position should maintain a natural alignment to minimize any extra strain on your elbow.

Use a Night Splint or Brace

Use a Night Splint or BraceNight splints or braces can help provide support and maintain your elbow in a neutral position while you sleep. This can be particularly helpful in conditions like cubital tunnel syndrome, where bending the elbow can cause pain. The brace helps prevent over-bending of the elbow and relieves pressure on the nerve, reducing symptoms. There are many types of braces available, so you might need to try a few to find one that’s comfortable and works for you. Always follow the instructions provided with the brace or splint to ensure proper usage.

Apply Cold Compresses

Cold therapy or cryotherapy can help numb the area and reduce inflammation, providing temporary relief from pain. This can be particularly helpful if your elbow pain is due to a recent injury or flare-up of a chronic condition like arthritis. To use a cold compress, wrap a few ice cubes or a commercial gel ice pack in a thin towel and apply it to the painful area. Never apply ice directly to the skin, as it can cause frostbite. Apply the cold compress for 15-20 minutes, then remove it for at least the same amount of time before reapplying.

Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers

Over-the-counter (OTC) analgesics such as ibuprofen (e.g., Advil, Motrin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) can help manage mild to moderate pain. They work by reducing the production of substances in the body that cause inflammation and pain. Remember to follow the instructions on the package for the correct dosage and frequency. These medications can have side effects, especially with long-term use. So it’s important to use them as directed and consult with a healthcare professional if you have any concerns.

Use a Pillow Under Your Elbow

Placing a pillow under your elbow while you sleep can provide cushioning and support, helping to reduce pressure on the joint. This can be particularly helpful if you have bursitis, where pressure on the elbow can cause pain. In addition, keeping the elbow slightly elevated can help reduce swelling and improve blood circulation to the area, promoting healing. Try using a soft, small pillow or a folded towel to support your elbow and see if that helps reduce your pain.

Elbow-Friendly Exercises

Regular exercises and stretches can help to strengthen the muscles around the elbow and increase its range of motion. This can help prevent further injuries and reduce the likelihood of experiencing elbow pain. For example, wrist turn, wrist lift, and elbow bend exercises can be beneficial for conditions like tennis elbow. However, it’s essential to learn these exercises from a physical therapist or a trained professional to ensure you’re doing them correctly and not causing more harm to your elbow. Start with gentle exercises, and gradually increase the intensity as your strength and flexibility improve.

Optimize Your Sleep Environment

Creating a sleep-friendly environment can play a pivotal role in improving the quality of your sleep and can indirectly affect your perception of pain. A quiet, dark, and cool room is considered ideal for sleep. Consider using earplugs, an eye mask, or a white noise machine if necessary. Choose a mattress, pillows, and bedding that are comfortable for you. This could include using a softer or firmer mattress, depending on your preference, or using a body pillow to better support your arms and legs.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Carrying excess weight can put more stress on your joints, including your elbow, and increase the risk of conditions like osteoarthritis. Maintaining a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular physical activity can help reduce this stress and decrease the likelihood of experiencing joint pain. A healthy diet can also help reduce inflammation in the body, which may help decrease pain and stiffness in your joints.

Warm Baths Before Bed

Taking a warm bath or shower before bed can help relax your muscles and joints, potentially reducing the pain in your elbow. The warmth increases blood circulation, which can help ease muscle tension and soothe joint pain. You can enhance the relaxation effect by adding Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) to your bath. The magnesium in the salts can help relax muscles and loosen stiff joints.

Mind-Body Techniques

Mindfulness, meditation, and deep-breathing exercises can help you manage pain by shifting your focus away from it. These techniques can also improve your sleep by reducing stress and anxiety. Progressive muscle relaxation, a method where you tense and then release different muscle groups, can also help promote relaxation and sleep. Regular practice of these techniques can help you better manage your pain and improve your overall quality of life.

Remember, everyone’s body responds differently, and what works for one person might not work for another. Always listen to your body and seek medical advice if the pain persists.

When Should You Seek Medical Help For Elbow Pain At Night?

When Should You Seek Medical Help For Elbow Pain At Night?While elbow pain at night can often be alleviated with home remedies and minor lifestyle changes, there are times when medical intervention is necessary. Here are some signs that you should seek medical help for your elbow pain:

1. Persistent Pain

If your elbow pain persists for more than a week despite at-home treatments and rest, it’s time to see a healthcare professional. This could be a sign of a more serious underlying condition that needs medical attention.

2. Severe Pain

If the pain in your elbow is severe and debilitating, making it difficult for you to perform daily activities or even get a good night’s sleep. Then, it’s important to consult a doctor.

3. Signs of Infection

If your elbow is red, swollen, or warm to the touch, or if you have a fever. Then, these could be signs of an infection or other serious condition that needs immediate medical attention.

4. Trauma or Injury

If your elbow pain started after a fall, accident, or direct blow to the elbow and is associated with severe pain, swelling, or inability to move the elbow, seek medical help immediately. This could indicate a fracture or other serious injury.

5. Associated Symptoms

If your elbow pain is accompanied by other symptoms like numbness, tingling, or weakness in the arm or hand, this could indicate nerve involvement and should be evaluated by a healthcare professional.

6. Pain Does Not Improve with OTC Medications

If over-the-counter pain medications do not alleviate your elbow pain, it might be a sign of a more severe issue that needs a stronger prescription medication or other treatment options.

In any case, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. When in doubt, seek professional medical advice to ensure you get the correct diagnosis and treatment for your condition.


In conclusion, enduring elbow pain at night can significantly disrupt your sleep and affect your overall quality of life. However, there are many strategies you can adopt to manage and alleviate this discomfort. While these home remedies can be effective in many cases, it’s essential to pay attention to the signals your body sends. If your pain persists, intensifies, or is accompanied by other worrying symptoms, it’s crucial to seek medical attention promptly.

Always remember that your health is invaluable, and proactive care is the key to maintaining it. If you’re experiencing Elbow pain, physical therapy for elbow pain at PhysioMantra can help: Book an online physical therapy session.