Elbow and arm pain

Elbow and arm pain is not usually a sign of anything serious. If it does not go away after a few weeks, see a GP.

How you can ease elbow and arm pain yourself

To ease elbow and arm pain, try these things for a couple of days:

Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:

  • elbow or arm pain does not go away after a few weeks

Urgent advice: Get help from NHS 111 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
  • is extremely painful and difficult to move
  • tingles or feels numb
  • has been injured and you heard a snapping noise or your arm has changed shape

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

You can call 111 or get help from 111 online.

Immediate action required: Call 999 if:

  • arm pain has come on suddenly and your chest feels like it's being squeezed

This could be a sign of a heart attack.

Causes of elbow and arm pain

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

Do not self-diagnose. See a GP if you're worried.

Common causes of elbow and arm pain
Main symptoms Possible cause
Main symptoms

Joint pain, stiffness, swelling, difficulty moving the affected area

Possible cause

Tendonitis or bursitis

Main symptoms

Pain, tenderness, bruising, swelling

Possible cause

Sprains and strains

Main symptoms

Pain, stiffness coming down from the shoulder

Possible cause

Frozen shoulder

Main symptoms

Pain and stiffness in the joints

Possible cause


Main symptoms

Swelling around a joint, a high temperature or feeling hot and shivery

Possible cause

Joint infection (septic arthritis)

Page last reviewed: 1 February 2021
Next review due: 1 February 2024