Arm or elbow pain


Arm or elbow pain
Arm or elbow 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

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 your arm if it's swollen

See a GP if:

  • the pain does not go away after a few weeks

Get advice from 111 now 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.

111 will tell you what to do. They can tell you the right place to get help if you need to see someone.

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

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)

The information on this page has been adapted by NHS Wales from original content supplied by NHS UK NHS website
Last Updated: 18/05/2022 15:14:35