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Elbow Pain Treatment: A Springfield, IL Chiropractor’s Perspective

The elbow joint is a complex joint, technically, it’s two joints in one. Where the humerus meets the radius and humerus meets the ulna forms this joint that performs flexion and extension but also contributes to rotation of the forearm both internally and externally. It is also the location for many important muscle and tendon attachments, particularly the muscles in our forearm responsible for moving our fingers and hands. Because of the vast amount and variety of movements these muscles perform, overuse and repetitive movements are the #1 cause of elbow pain.

Elbow pain is not typically an emergency, but it is important to address it when you have an issue to ensure it doesn’t get worse and has the chance to heal properly. Tradition medicine typically uses some combination of medications, therapy, and injections to treat pain and other symptoms. If those don’t work, they may recommend surgery as a last resort to fix the issue. There is certainly a time and a place for all these things, but many cases of elbow pain can be addressed and healed using conservative measures. Chiropractic care takes a different approach, identifying and addressing the source of the pain rather than just treating the symptoms. At the Springfield Wellness Center, we have a range of services available to help you with your elbow pain, whatever the cause.

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How We Treat Elbow Pain in Springfield, IL

Detailed Consultation and Examination

When we welcome new patients to our office, their first visit always begins with an in-depth consultation and examination. During the consultation, your doctor will sit down with you and listen to your story and the problem you are having with your elbow. They will ask you questions to understand the history of the problem and how it got to be this way. They also want to know how it affects your daily life and other important things like work, sleep, or other daily activities. After the consultation, the doctor will perform a detailed examination, including various orthopedic, neurologic, and movement tests, to understand the problem further. This will reveal important clinical information to provide the most accurate treatment recommendations possible. There is no cookie-cutter approach to our care; our recommendations will be tailored to your unique needs.

Specific Chiropractic Care in Springfield, IL

Many people think that chiropractic is just for the spine, but the reality is that chiropractors are trained to adjust and treat most joints in the human body. Joints thrive on motion, and chiropractic can help restore that by properly aligning the bones that comprise that joint. When it comes to elbow pain, this is particularly true. Gentle chiropractic adjustments to the elbow joints can decrease pain and increase range of motion. Also, the nerves that travel down the arm through the elbow originate in the neck portion of the spine. Therefore, it is essential to have your spine adjusted so the nerves can function optimally and not be a contributing source of your elbow pain. By addressing both, a significant reduction in elbow pain can be seen in a short time.

Soft Tissue Mobilization

Perhaps the most common cause of elbow pain is related to soft tissue injuries. Soft tissue is anything that isn’t bone, such as muscles, tendons, ligaments, or nerves. There are several key muscle attachments in and around the elbow joint, and these tendons are commonly the primary cause of elbow discomfort. For this reason, soft tissue mobilization plays a significant role in our elbow pain care at SWC. We use the Graston Technique, a method using specific tools to help break up adhesions in the muscle and tendons. This allows for better movement and also promotes proper healing of the tissue. Active Release Technique is another technique that involves taking the muscle through dynamic movement sequences to help release tension from the source. We also have massage therapy available if more dedicated time is necessary to work through the issue. Whatever your needs, our doctors will be able to help address the soft tissue source of your problem and get you on the path to healing.

Therapeutic Exercise

Our joints thrive on and need movement to function optimally. A critical way we can instill this in patients is through mobility training and exercise. Our trainer specializes in helping you perform the necessary stretches and exercises to build stability in the elbow joint to protect it from further damage while also not compromising any of the mobility it needs to function optimally. A healthy balance needs to exist to be able to withstand everyday demands. Additionally, it is important to strengthen and stabilize the shoulders to help the elbow function well, as shoulder rotation is the primary driver of internal and external rotation that the elbow helps facilitate. It is important to look at the whole structure sometimes and not be so laser-focused on the problem area.

Deep Tissue Laser

Deep tissue laser therapy is one of the technologies we regularly utilize in our office to enhance our care. Deep tissue laser uses red light energy that penetrates deep into the tissue down to the cellular level. There, it can stimulate energy production via the mitochondria of the cell. This energy accelerates tissue healing and helps combat inflammation at the source. Because conditions like elbow tendinitis or bursitis are inflammatory-based, deep tissue laser is extremely effective in treating them. Treatment is easy and comfortable and usually only takes about 3-5 minutes. Coupled with other treatments such as chiropractic and Graston, it can help rejuvenate and heal the elbow, restoring it to full function and use.

Get A $49 Complete Chiropractic Elbow Pain Screening

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Common Causes of Elbow Pain in Springfield, IL

Tennis Elbow

One of the most common causes of elbow pain is lateral epicondylitis, known more simply as “tennis elbow.” This pain occurs on the outside of the elbow due to repetitive use and overuse, particularly in the rotating motion that occurs at the elbow. While it is named due to the location of pain common from swinging a tennis racket repetitively, the reality is tennis elbow can happen to just about anyone who does repetitive rotating work with their forearms. From construction workers to carpenters to plumbers, all of these jobs involve motions that require twisting in the arms to some extent. When done over long periods, it causes inflammation and damage to the tendons attached to the outside of the elbow. The good news is tennis elbow can be treated and managed through many of the treatments listed above, so please reach out to our office if you are experiencing this type of pain.

Golfer’s Elbow

Another type of pain in the elbow is medial epicondylitis, otherwise known as “golfer’s elbow.” While tennis elbow occurs on the outside of the elbow, golfer’s elbow affects the inside (medial), as can be seen by the stress caused on this area during a golf swing. Like tennis elbow, it is caused by many things besides a golf swing. Construction workers, plumbers, and carpenters are again common examples of professions that use a lot of elbow and shoulder rotation, which places a lot of stress on the muscles that attach to the inside aspect of the elbow. Over time, this gets inflamed and irritated due to the chronic and consistent nature of these kinds of professions. As with any condition, the sooner you take action, the better results you get, so if you notice that you are experiencing pain here, it is essential to seek care promptly.


Each joint in the body has fluid-filled sacs that surround and support the joint so it can regularly withstand the forces of natural movement. These sacs are called bursae, and they have an essential role to play in joint integrity. However, it is possible that these bursae can become inflamed, which can be a very painful condition because they are still absorbing movement forces. Deep tissue laser is one of the best ways to treat bursitis naturally. The red light energy can help combat the inflammation in the bursa and stimulate and accelerate the healing process to get you feeling better faster.


Generally speaking, joint degeneration is a natural process that occurs over a very long period. Sometimes, due to chronic overuse and heavy work, degeneration can happen more quickly. In professions that involve hard work and using the hands and arms, this can lead to degeneration in joints such as the elbow. Joint degeneration is also known as osteoarthritis, which means that the joint spacing has narrowed, and causes reduced range of motion and increased pain with movement. While typically common in more weight-bearing structures such as the knees, the elbows can also become arthritic, and it isn’t something that can be magically reversed. However, with proper and consistent management, elbow osteoarthritis progression can be slowed to maintain a higher quality of life.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Another form of arthritis that can affect the elbows is rheumatoid arthritis, a systemic autoimmune condition affecting the whole body rather than a single joint. Autoimmune means the body is mistakenly attacking its own tissue, which means that joints and bony surfaces can erode from the inside out. This causes pain, swelling, redness, and inflammation in the affected joints. It typically starts in smaller joints, like the fingers and toes, so by the time it affects the elbows or more proximal joints, it is usually more progressed along its disease path. Services such as chiropractic and laser can help with the pain and inflammation, but they cannot stop the disease process. These are typically cases that are co-managed with other healthcare providers.

Frequently Asked Questions

What causes elbow pain without injury?

Most often, elbow pain happens from overuse. Whether from a sport or a repetitive motion at work, the joints and soft tissues around the elbow wear down, which causes pain, inflammation, and dysfunction. Of course, a singular trauma can cause elbow pain, such as a car accident or fall, but most commonly, it is from everyday overuse.

How do you get rid of elbow pain?

The best way to get rid of elbow pain is to address its root cause. If it is a joint restriction, then getting the joint to move through things like chiropractic and exercise is the best way to restore normal motion and function to the joint. If it is a muscle or tendon issue, soft tissue work or deep tissue laser can help address that. It all depends on what is causing the pain in the first place.

How do you know if elbow pain is serious?

One reason you may want to seek more emergent care for elbow pain would be if there is significant swelling and bruising around the site. This could indicate a fracture of one of the bones and should be managed accordingly. If you are ever in doubt, it is always best to have it looked at by a professional.

Can elbow pain be related to the heart?

One of the symptoms of a heart attack is pain in the left arm, which can be felt in the elbow. If the pain is solely in the elbow and not felt elsewhere, though, it may not be cardiac-related. It is always wise to err on the side of caution and be evaluated if you have any concerns about your cardiac health.

Can an X-Ray show elbow tendinitis?

No, X-ray does not help evaluate the soft tissues around the elbow joint. X-rays can help diagnose conditions involving the bones themselves and the elbow joints, but muscles, tendons, and ligaments require more advanced imaging to be seen and diagnosed.

Get A $49 Complete Chiropractic Elbow Pain Screening

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