In adults, the following steps can help treat many cases of elbow pain:
When you first notice the pain, apply ice up to 15 minutes every hour for the first day. Continue to apply ice every 3 to 4 hours for up to 3 days. Wrap the ice in a cloth -- do not apply ice directly to the skin.
Wrap the elbow with a bandage, such as an ACE bandage. You may need an air splint to keep the elbow immobilized.
Keep the elbow elevated above your heart, if possible.
Give the elbow joint complete rest for at least 2 days. DO NOT return to the activity that caused the problem for at least 3 weeks. Then, gradually strengthen the muscles around your elbow. A physical therapist can teach you how to do this.
While you are resting the joint, take pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
After the initial rest period, you should begin to gradually strengthen the muscles around the elbow through gentle flexibility exercises.
Contact your doctor if:
- You have a prolonged case of tendinitis that doesn't improve with home care.
- The pain is due to a direct elbow injury.
- There is obvious deformity.
- You are unable to use the elbow.
- You have fever or swelling and redness of your elbow.
- A child has elbow pain.