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Severe Inner Elbow/Biceps Pain; Unknown Cause


I’m experiencing fairly severe pain on my left (non-dominant) inner elbow pit (as indicated in the lower red section on the picture). I’ve had bicep tendonitis before which was linked to overuse/overtraining, but this does not feel the same.
Also it should be noted that my weightlifting over the last 6 months has been incredibly laid back due to being in law school. Until about a week ago I was only working out once or twice a week, just using resistance bands in my apartment. This pain started maybe two or three months ago, very mild at first, but has progressively become more severe.

Previously when I experienced a similar pain it was due to tight forearm muscles from playing guitar multiple hours a day (also a guitar instructor). I would use an electric massager on my inner and outer forearm and the pain would subside and I would be fine- sometimes for two days, sometimes a week or a month or longer. Again, because of school and covid I have not played guitar at all so that cannot be the cause. I have absolutely no idea what is causing this pain or exacerbating it.
Using the massager on my entire arm helps, but very temporarily now. Maybe 15 minutes. There is no swelling or physical issue that can be seen.

The only thing I can possibly link to it is that occasionally I will flex (think front double biceps pose) and “pop” my elbow joints. It’s tantamount to cracking your knuckles or your neck. I do not believe this is the cause as I have done it for a few years without incident. In fact I could usually only do it when I was experiencing the same type of inner elbow pain. It would provide the same relief as cracking your knuckles does. Maybe two or three of the last times I did this it was moderately painful…but again, the pain was already there- so it may have exacerbated it, but didn’t cause it.

I recently got tattooed on that bicep and I noticed some unusual bruising that I’ve never had when being tattooed before (both arms fully covered now; not a new experience). I took maybe 5 days off from lifting altogether, but it made no difference. It has now gotten to the point where I can’t even pick up my laptop without feeling this pain.
Again, it doesn’t seem to make sense that it would be bicep tendinitis as it has had fairly little use. I could be wrong, but I don’t think it’s an inflammation issue- again, because with all the time off it has never made a difference. Massaging doesn’t seem to be helping. I do not know how to rehab this and I’m not really in a position where I can see a physiotherapist about it.

I get pain in the same spot. Mine isn’t too terrible though. I do the same things as you (massage), and avoid doing the things that make it hurt (yesterday BB rows were really causing issues). Neutral grip or supinated grip don’t give me issues, so I do more of that, and keep the pronated grip lifts in only when they are not bothering me. Why be stubborn on a lift, when another can give a similar benefit without pain.

I will say mine was worse in the past. I was close to doing a run of BPC-157 or TB-500 (or both) for it. You could look into that. I know a few have tried it with great success.

I also know a few guys who work with a PT, and they swear by it. I think this guy knows his stuff, and that may not be easy to find.

What I’ve noticed (and find bizarre) is that a neutral grip actually makes it hurt more in some instances- like with standing neutral grip rope pulls.
I don’t know if it’s possibly a pinched nerve- or an issue stemming from another part of my body like my neck. I’ve never been so dumbfounded by an injury.

Got nothing constructive to add, but I suffer the EXACT same thing in my right arm (dominant). I put it down to years off abuse playing rugby, and over use at work swinging a hammer… my physio gave me exercises to help manage it, which have worked, but I’ve just learnt to live with it… rest it when it flares up, and manage the best I can…
Plot twist though, and for me it’s been a turn for the worse…
Elbow and bicep tendon pain is completely gone… has been for weeks…
Now I’ve got excruciating pain in the connective tissue on either side of my elbow… mainly in my forearm… its so bad that even brushing my teeth makes it feel like it’s going to explode… I don’t know if it’s muscle, or tendons, or both, but I just know the pain level is twice as bad as previously…
I’m due to get scans, so I’ll let you know the outcome if you like??

Yeah, for sure keep us posted. Also feel free to share the exercises your physio gave you. I’ll try anything at this point.

I noticed today at the gym (back day) the pain seemed to also start up in the middle of my bicep. Seated rows with neutral grip were ok, but anything overhead was pushing it after my first initial four sets. I could feel it in my armpit this time too, which was more comparable to previous instances of when I had bicep tendinitis.

Ok, please bare with me, I’ll try to explain it the best I can…

  1. Stand upright, holding a light to medium dumbbell in the injured arm. Using the other arm to lift it into a contracted curl position, SLOWLY lower it with only the injured arm as support/control. Important, do not use the injured arm to lift it into position. Only use the injured arm to lower it. Repeat 5 - 10 times…

  2. Stand upright, using the above techniques, lift the dumbbell to the opposite shoulder in a hammer curl grip, the allow the injured arm to slowly lower the weight across your body so it’s then hanging by your side. Repeat 5 - 10 times…

For me, the total extended arm is when it caused pain… I was told that it’s OK to stop when it’s at 5 degrees, NOT fully extended… the idea is to work it, but not strain it…

  1. Imagine your sitting down, hands at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock on a steering wheel… pull your wrists back towards your forearms, the twist your hands inwards… left hand clockwise, right hand anticlockwise, then really stretch out your arms… make them as long as possible… then lower them to get that slight additional stretch… usually only two or three times is needed… it will hurt… and your elbows might crack/pop.

Another thing to note… with my elbow pain, I found it better to train it cold… I bought an Ice spray from a pharmacy, and used to spray it regularly throughout my sessions… it helped heaps… I’ll post a pic in a sec…

I’ve had similar issues but more near the lower und of the bicep insertion near the inside of the elbow. I dealt with it for a while, rested it, iced, heated, PT and some random exercises that have helped with tennis elbow in the past. Nothing helped. Went to an osteopathic physician that I use when I have issues that my GP can’t deal with. He did some ultrasound and was able to identify some inflammation and a pocket of fluid. Ended up giving me a shot of cortisone in the effected area which made it 90% better. That was a few weeks back and it’s 95% now. I have a follow up in the coming weeks to see if the fluid/inflammation is still lingering.
Hope you get resolve with yours. These nagging issues suck!!

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I’ve had similar issues to what you describe, on and off, for several years. As some already suggested, it may be inflammation, at least partly, but it could also be misalignment(s) in the elbow, shoulder, neck/trapezius or a combination of these.

A good chiropractor and/or other bodywork practitioner would probably be helpful. You can also try something that’s quick and easy. Try hanging from one arm for at least 10 seconds and really let everything stretch out.

Dr. John Rusin wrote an article some years back that may be helpful, where he shows ways to self-treat various types of elbow pain. Lifter’s Elbow: The Cause & The Cure | T Nation (t-nation.com)

Coincidence or not, I started taking collagen protein a few years ago and, since that time, the issue has largely gone away.

Whatever it is, you may also need to be patient and give it time to fully go away. Hope this helps.