My elbow pains a lot while doing exercise and climbing. What to do?

Q. Why do my elbows pain and swell every time I climb?

Answered by
Sreenivasa Rao
and medically reviewed by Dr.Sowmiya
This is a premium question & answer published on Apr 02, 2017 and last reviewed on: Jan 25, 2022

Hi doctor,

I have a climber's elbow, it has been there for years, and nothing I do helps to relieve the pain. My elbow's soreness is mainly isolated to the pronator teres muscle, and it pains whenever I do vertical pulling exercises such as pull up, pull-downs, and seated rows. I recently stopped exercising for about eight months due to a shoulder strain, and when I got back to the gym, my first session caused severe pronator teres muscle soreness and inflammation. Did I lift too much weight too soon? Should I be lifting less weight until I am sure my body can handle it? How come I have met so many rock climbers who never get climber's elbow? But, I have to ice down my elbows every time I climb.



Welcome to

You would have probably lifted too much weight that your body could not handle in the first session. We need to first prepare your body for that activity with less load initially in any training. Once your body is ready to take it, you can increase the load by increasing the volume of repetitions. I suggest you kindly ice your elbows now, frequently like 5 to 6 times, to reduce the pain and soreness and follow it with proper stretching. You can take anti-inflammatory tablets after consulting your doctor. Now coming to your climber's elbow, since you are aware of your issue, I suggest you take proactive steps to prevent it by strengthening your forearm and wrist muscles. You can try using a golfer's elbow splint to reduce the load on the tendons of the pronator teres muscle and other wrist flexors.

There are many options as follows.

1) Start icing your forearm regularly, five to six times a day for 15 minutes. If you think you have some swelling, increase icing frequency to once every two hours.

2) Once swelling gets reduced, start working on the forearm and wrist strength. You can use a resistance band to start with and keep loading your forearm with weights progressively after 2 to 3 weeks. Once you think you did good work on strength with good loading for your whole body, start many stability exercises for the shoulder and gluteus muscles. I recommend you to get back to climbing after 6 to 8 weeks. Get a Hydrocortisone injection done under ultrasound guidance by an orthopedic doctor. Work on rehabilitation and strengthening of your forearm and wrist. Rehabilitation exercises that can help you initially are as follows, in sitting position,

1. With the forearm supported and the wrist outside, with the palm facing upwards, move your palm from wrist extension to flexion.

2. With the forearm supported and the wrist outside, move your wrist from flexion to extension with the palm facing the floor.

3. With the forearm supported and the wrist outside the support, the palm facing down do supination. You can wrap the resistance tube around the forearm, and the other end can be held with the opposite hand.

4. With the forearm supported and the wrist outside the support, the palm facing upwards, do pronation. You can wrap the resistance tube opposite the movement performed, and the other end can be tied.

5. You can hold a weight plate, say about two pounds and walk for 20 meters.

6. Stretching your forearm muscle is the key to recovering faster. I recommend you do a good warming up of forearm and wrist muscles in your routine. Do good cool down stretches more for your forearm and wrist muscles.

7. I suggest you check on the exercise form, especially your wrist position while doing gym, as they play a vital role in the muscles under load.

Revert in case of further queries.

Was this answer helpful?


Same symptoms doesn’t mean you have the same problem. Consult a doctor now!

Related Questions:
My scalp is inflamed and itchy after using Kaolin clay and tea tree oil. Kindly help.

.. ointment is a type of steroid. Most Hydrocortisone are mild, and they are used in the treatment of eczema, insect bites, and, in your case, for treating contact dermatitis. There are points to be kept in mind while using Hydrocortisone ointment: 1.   Read full

What exercises will lead to normal delivery in a person with small cervical length?

.. needs to be checked again at 24 weeks for further advice. In general, twin pregnancy has a tendency for preterm labor. Your focus right now should be on preventing preterm labor rather than normal delivery.   Read full

Does masturbation cause arm numbness and pain?

.. read your question with care and understand that you have numbness of your hands when you sleep. First and foremost, masturbation is physiological and it is a normal phenomenon. It does not cause any problem or any side effects.   Read full

Also Read Answers From:

Also Read

Improving the Health and Wellbeing of People Living With Neglected Tropical Diseases
Neglected tropical diseases can be efficiently treated with various cross-sectoral public health interventions to improve people's well-being. Read to know more.  Read more»
Holi Colors - Are They Safe?
Holi is known as the festival of colors. But are the colors worth playing with? Let us find out.  Read more»
Methods to Increase Breast Milk Production
Several measures can help mothers in increasing their breast milk production. Find out the correct way to breastfeed through this article.  Read more»

Ask your health query to a Wellness Expert online?

Ask a Physiotherapist Now

* guaranteed answer within 4 hours.

Disclaimer: No content published on this website is intended to be a substitute for professional medical diagnosis, advice or treatment by a trained physician. Seek advice from your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with questions you may have regarding your symptoms and medical condition for a complete medical diagnosis. Do not delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice because of something you have read on this website. Read our Editorial Process to know how we create content for health articles and queries.