Inner Elbow Pain and Holistic Care
If you’re someone who’s had elbow surgery and you’re now in therapy, making attempts at relieving inner elbow pain, then this article is for you.
Physical Trauma from Surgical Repair: How Prevalent is Inner Elbow Pain?
After elbow surgery, the pain is more likely to be generalized. Meaning, your entire elbow hurts!
The surgical team cut into your arm, placed a hardware plate, and screwed into your bones to secure the hardware.
Yikes!! Sounds dreadfully painful to me.
In fact, it was. My entire elbow, forearm, and wrist hurt the first week or so, after surgery.
Once the initial shock wears off and elbow swelling goes down, you may find your pain is specific to one part of the elbow. Relieving inner elbow pain becomes more important, as you’re able to pinpoint exactly where it hurts.
Where Does it Hurt? Pointing to Inner Elbow Pain
During my occupational therapy (OT) sessions, after I finished with my therapeutic activities, my therapist would come over to my table. It was time for the dreaded stretching… happily followed by gentle massage.
My therapist and I would sit at my station with my upper arm flat to the table. My hand was raised to the air, making a sort of 90-degree angle. It was time for the dreaded “karate chop”, as I called it.
We’d push my arm out, seeing how far it would extend. Then, we’d go the other way, trying to get my hand to my shoulder. Both directions were dreadfully painful. My therapist would always ask, as we’d go back and forth, “Where does it hurt?”
“Right here. Here,” I’d take my fingers, pointing always to inner elbow pain.
After months of trying therapy to get my arm to move, I found myself frustrated. I was tired of doing the same thing, time after time, still experiencing pain.
Holistic Care for Inner Elbow Pain
So, I decided to take matters into my own hands. Why not try a few holistic remedies to see if they’d help relieve this inner elbow pain?
You know what!?
Complementing holistic modalities with the therapeutic activities from OT really helped!
So, what did I do? Well, loads of things. In order not to overwhelm, here are three ideas for reducing inner elbow pain through holistic practice.
1) Gentle Movements
Qigong is an easy and gentle physical activity that can reduce inner elbow pain. For weeks, I’d stand in my living room, following along with the instructions for flow.
The best thing about qigong was… I didn’t have to put any pressure on my arm! And, I didn’t have to hold my arm in one place, like in yoga where the poses are held.
Since qigong is about flow, anyone with inner elbow pain can do it. As I practiced qigong more and more, I noticed that my arm felt more “normal”. I was finally getting comfortable again in my body.
Even if I couldn’t do the full movement with my injured arm, I was happy to have my elbow flowing along, feeling like it was part of my body again. During the short sessions, I completely forgot about my inner elbow pain!
2) Massage with Medical Cannabis
After many months of OT, my therapist came to a conclusion that my tightened and overactive muscles in my upper arm were causing my elbow to remain stuck. In fact, some of the muscle spasms could have been contributing to the pain.
So, my therapist suggested that each evening, as I watched TV or read a book, I massage my biceps and forearm. She said that I could grab any lotion and just sit there, rubbing along and telling my muscles how wonderful they were and how it was OK for them to relax.
Sure, any lotion would work. However, I decided to double the chances of success and use my massage session to its fullest.
Since I had my medical card for the chronic pain diagnosis, I was able to purchase a balm that had small THC and CBD in it. Now, I am not an expert in medical cannabis (only a consumer, to date), but it couldn’t hurt! Because the balm was indicated for pain reduction and I was sitting there massaging my arm, it made sense for me to try it.
Again, another way to relieve inner elbow pain through holistic care. I’d sit in the evening, rubbing my arm with the THC balm, and speaking loving kindness to my arm. A lovely practice with so many benefits!
3) Breathe into the Moment
This next suggestion for relieving inner elbow pain is sort of like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Again, not a psychotherapist here or anything, but as a nurse and someone who used to work in psychiatric nursing, I’ve witnessed my fair share of CBT.
Also, as an avid meditator, I also know that breathing into the moment… whatever moment… can be helpful for us human beings.
So, what do I mean by breathe into the inner elbow pain?
Literally as it sounds.
When experiencing inner elbow pain, I have found it to be helpful to pause, focus on the area itself, and breathe into the space.
Since we’re talking elbow here… that’s essentially what we do.
Pain happens. Pause and come present to that pain. Stop everything and take your attention to the elbow. Send your breath to the pain. Breathe in and out of the elbow. Each time you exhale, see if you can let go of just a bit of the inner elbow pain. In and out. In and out. Exhaling tension and stress, each time.
Sure, it sounds like it might hurt. And it can. And, with time, you may experience a gradual resolve of the pain. But guess what? You actually have to TRY it. Just reading about the practice isn’t going to decrease the inner elbow pain.
That’s why it’s a practice! A chance to try. An opportunity to take healing into your own hands.
Ready to heal after elbow surgery? Check us out and come join us!
About the Author: Elizabeth Scala MSN/MBA, RN, HNB-BC is a board-certified holistic nurse, registered yoga instructor, and reiki master.
Elizabeth received her dual master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University. She is also a certified coach and Reiki Master Teacher. Elizabeth lives in Maryland with her supportive husband and playful pit bull.