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Information and guidance for public, NHSGGC staff, and community-based services.  Hospital visiting restrictions now in place.

MSK Physiotherapy - Elbow

Important Facts About Your Elbow - Please Read

Here is a list of the main problems and concerns when we would recommend you get checked out by a health professional before commencing self-management exercises. These are called Red Flags and may indicate a more serious problem that requires medical assessment.

Symptoms That Are Present After Trauma

If your symptoms are caused by a recent traumatic incident (e.g. a fall, football tackle) and you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Significant bruising and swelling in the area
  • Difficulty in moving elbow or seems locked in one position
  • Looks a different shape to the other side, new lumps and bumps that have appeared since the injury.
  • Loss of ability to use your hand normally

NOTE: If you have an underlying poor bone density (e.g. osteoporosis) smaller amounts of force can cause the problems listed above.

Symptoms Where No Trauma Was Involved

  • Hot, red and/or swelling of elbow
  • Tingling, numbness and/ or pins and needles into arm, hand or fingers
  • Worsening weakness in your arm and/or loss of movement
  • Unexplained lumps or bumps which are changing/growing.
  • Fever and generally feeling unwell at same time as elbow pain developed.
  • Pain and/ or stiffness in other joints at the same time as elbow pain developed
  • Constant pain which appears to not change with rest/ activity.
  • Significant worsening pain at night in bed
  • Unexplained weight loss and/ or previous history of cancer

NOTE: Special attention should be taken if you have a history of long-term steroid use/ immunosuppressive drugs, recent joint replacement, surgery, steroid injection. Rheumatoid arthritis or other joint disease. Recent infection, intravenous drug use or alcohol misuse.


Last Updated: 09 June 2021