T Nation

Forearm/elbow pain

First off, I’ve seen a doctor and I got the “Hew-Haw” answer to my elbow pain (i.e. “Doctor it hurts when I do this…”“Well don’t do that…”). I’ve been plagued by pain in the elbow joint (both arms) that started as pressure on the ulnar nerve (pain, dumbness in distal fingers). I’ve pretty much ignored it but its gotten to the point where tricep isolation work is not possible. The pain has also migrated from the joint to the unicator muscle/tendon (over the ulna). Now heavy bench and military hurt a little but all tricep work and hammer curls kill me. Anyone had this problem? Possible stress fractures? HELP!

hehe, got tha same fackin prob at tha beginning.
damn i should warm up more…
well, dont move to much, and only do long easy sets, keep elbow straight in night

-thafacka spoke

It probably isn’t a stress facture since its bilateral and had a gradual onset. It sounds more like a neural problem. I’m going to assume this is not golfers elbow butI would reccomend that you ice it and perhaps take some anti-inflammatories. This may be a case of the ulnar nerve not sitting in the ideal place (have an orthopedist look at it). This improper positioning may result in trauma and inflammtion after certain movements. Obviously avoid those movements! I would suggest trying movements that do not create excessive shear forces on the elbow (ie. Extensions and pressdowns). Instead, try doing more pressing motions such as CG bench and dips. In any event, I would go to an ortho MD and hear what he has to say.

Does it hurt when doing skullcrushers and other movements when the the ulnar nerve is on stretch? If so, it may be the ulnar nerve is being impinged, if that’s the case seek out a good ART therapist.

If your ulnar nerve is in the wrong place (and that sounds very possible), then you have the same problem that I used to. I would strongly suggest going to an orthopedist to get it checked out. I had a simple surgery to move the nerve and 80% of the elbow problems went away. Couldn’t lift with the arm for about five weeks; so no huge deal. Still can’t do lots of tricep isolation stuff for the arm and can’t do pushups, but I can hit it with enough things to keep it relatively symmetrical; the other pushing type stuff is no big prob (minor discomfort).

If it is this, get it done because being laid up for five weeks is infinitely superior to not being able to lift the arm properly. I don’t know enough about ART, maybe you could fix it that way too and avoid surgery altogether. Do something either way.


I had a simialar problem. It was caused from trap putting preasure in my back. The only pain I had was in my thumb and my elbow. I had a acupuncturist do some cupping on my back. Cleared right up.

I would agree in seeing an ART therapist. You would be amazed at what that can fix.

I’ve been experiencing the same thing in my left arm recently although not quite to the intensity you have. I got it checked out and was told that it was from the ulnar nerve being impinged in the olecranon process. Start with an anti-inflammatory life advil except stronger. Doc told me if it persisted, the neurologist would do a small procedure where he’d make a small incision and move the nerve to a spot where it would be less likely to get compressed. Hope this helps, good luck

Andrew: Skullcrushers are impossible but I did do 5 sets of heavy pushdowns yesterday with some severe pain. Funny thing is it stopped hurting on the last set and I had full range of motion. I hadn’t done any isolation work in a few weeks so tri’s were totally spent. Got a massive pump too. No noticable pain on the day after. I think I’m just going to work thru it and hope my body adapts.

Trying to work through a nerve problem will most likely only make matters worse. It’ll just keep getting compressed and more damaged. You may be risking permanent damage to the nerve. Just my 2 cents but good luck, hope it improves for you.

Thanks for the replies. I think I’ll just work around or thru it (til it breaks).

Hi Lipo. The kind of cubital tunnel problem you describe is very common. I work rehabbing people who get RSI’s from computer work, so you can imagine the kinds of cases that come through my door on a regular basis.

Personally (and professionally), I would run to see an ART person first. These problems are almost always soft tissue-oriented, and orthos tend to think of soft tissue as something you have to move out of the way to get to the bone. So, the kinds of remedies that will be offered will not address the underlying conditions. Surgery should not be your first choice as it will not address the underlying problems in the near- or long-term.

You probably do have some kind of traction neuropathy as you describe it, but it most likely comes from fibrotic adhesions in the surrounding connective tissue. If that is the case, then ART is by far the best option for permanently resolving the problems. Another word to the wise: non-steroidal anti-inflamms generally are not effective in managing upper extremity inflamation. Also, their side effects are quite nasty usually. Aspirin, if it works for you, usually does better. Lastly, don't wait to get this taken care of. Traction neuropathy of this kind can quickly turn into a more generalized, chronic condition that is much harder to resolve.