Why does my elbow hurt when I extend it?

Why Does My Elbow Hurt When I Extend It? | Excel PT

Elbow pain can be caused by a multitude of factors, even some that are not underlying elbow conditions. Experiencing pain when you extend your elbow does not necessarily mean that you have an underlying condition or a serious issue. You might just be overworking certain areas or not taking the right precautions before exercising. 

To identify why your elbow hurts when you extend it, you may find it beneficial to speak with a specialist, such as a physical therapist, about your pain. This may be helpful because your elbow pain could be caused by several issues that are happening at the same time. Talking to a physical therapist can help you find out why you are experiencing pain when you extend your elbow, so that you then can find the best path for recovery.

What are some daily habits or activities that can cause elbow pain?

Elbow pain can be caused by prolonged pressure or stress on the elbow joint. Often, this pressure or stress can be linked to your daily habits or activities. For instance, you may be leaning on your elbows for a long time while you’re at work. Or you may be doing exercises every day that work the muscles around your elbows. 

Daily habits or activities like these that cause pressure or stress on your elbows can lead to elbow inflammation. In turn, this can lead to the pain you’re feeling. Fortunately, proper stretching and breaks can often prevent this pressure from building. Inflammation in your elbows can also possibly be reduced through changing your daily habits to include things like more stretching, a more anti-inflammatory diet and taking breaks at work.

However, it is also important to keep in mind that the pain you feel when extending your elbow may be caused by more than your habits or daily activities. It may also be related to an underlying elbow injury or condition. 

What are some underlying conditions that can cause elbow pain?

Pain in your elbow when you extend it can be a symptom of many different possible conditions or issues in your elbows. These conditions can be sports-related injuries or issues that start to develop over time from certain habits or activities that are not sports related. 

Here are some of the common conditions and issues that are often behind elbow pain:


Tendinitis occurs in the elbow when you have overused and/or strained your elbow tendons. Overuse of the elbow can happen anytime you move it over and over for long periods of time.

Certain professions where you have your elbows bent for extended periods may be more likely to cause you to experience tendinitis than other professions. Plumbers, painters, butchers and carpenters may be at a higher risk of tendinitis. It is important to take breaks and stretch at work to prevent strains.

Strains in your tendons can cause long-term pain or discomfort when extending your elbow. It may be mistaken for soreness or fatigue in your muscles, but this pain may actually be happening because the tendons have been overused and need to recover.

Tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow

These two conditions are put in the same section because they’re both often caused by playing sports. However, tennis and golfer’s elbow occur from repeated actions that may or may not happen from playing tennis or golf but cause bending or moving your elbow to hurt. 

These injuries may seem very similar to tendinitis. Tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow are forms of tendinitis, but not all forms of tendinitis are tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow. That’s because these two injuries affect specific elbow tendons while tendinitis can occur in any tendon in the body. 

These two conditions can happen from years of repeated motions either in sports or in other aspects of life. Typically, tennis elbow leads to pain on the outside of the elbow. Golfer’s elbow pain is typically felt on the inside of the elbow. They can also both cause inflammation in the elbow and forearm, and pain when you extend and bend your elbow.

Excel PT is ready to treat your elbow pain

Finding help with your elbow pain can be easy. You can start by making an appointment with a physical therapist at Excel Sports & Physical Therapy. Our experts in elbow pain can identify why you are experiencing pain. Not only can a specialist help with identifying whether it may be an underlying condition or injury, they also can help with recovery so you can get back to the life you love.

Contact our team today for more information about how we can treat your elbow pain or to schedule your initial appointment.