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Elbow Sprain

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jul 7, 2024.

An elbow sprain is caused by a stretched or torn ligament in the elbow joint. Ligaments are the strong tissues that connect bones.


Return to the emergency department if:

Call your doctor if:


Rest your elbow:

You will need to rest your elbow for 1 to 2 days after your injury. This will help decrease the risk of more damage to your elbow.

Ice your elbow:

Apply ice on your elbow for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel. Ice helps prevent tissue damage and decreases swelling and pain.

Compress your elbow:

Compression provides support and helps decrease swelling and movement so your elbow can heal. You may be told to keep your elbow wrapped with a tight elastic bandage. Follow instructions about how to apply your bandage.

Elevate your elbow:

Elevate your elbow above the level of your heart as often as you can. This will help decrease swelling and pain. Prop your elbow on pillows or blankets to keep it elevated comfortably.

Exercise your elbow:

You should begin to exercise your arm in a few days, once you are able to move your elbow without pain. Exercises will help decrease stiffness and improve the strength of your arm. Ask your healthcare provider what kind of exercises you should do.

Prevent another elbow sprain:

Follow up with your doctor within 1 week:

Write down any questions you have so you remember to ask them in your follow-up visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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