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Front of Elbow Pain When Carrying or Shoveling

How People Describe This Pain Pattern

Patients complain of this pain in the front of their elbow when picking up and carrying things. Heavier objects may produce sharper pain. Even moderately heavy objects can create an achy pain in the bicep with a sharper pain in the pocket of the elbow.

This elbow pain tends to be less bothersome when picking up objects with the palm facing down.

When asked about the shoulder pain, the patient will sometimes say that it always bothers them, so they didn’t think to mention it. In other cases, they admit to the superficial strip of pain when I ask them to raise their arm and twist their wrist. I explore that pattern in this other post.

You might notice that the elbow on the arm with pain is almost always flexed when they stand. Straightening the arm will often result in complaints of trouble doing so.

How You Activate and Intensify This Pain Pattern

This elbow pain can also come from vigorous or repeated flexing of the elbow while twisting the wrist. A recent client came in with this problem after shoveling gravel into wheelbarrows. Clients have also complained of this after moving blocks while landscaping.

Pain in the front of the elbow can also occur from awkward and forceful flexing and twisting. One client had this after his cordless drill quit, and he tried driving in screws by hand.

Grabbing under a ledge to stop a fall, stopping a slamming car hood, or being handed a heavy child are all excellent ways to aggravate this trigger point. When activated in one of these ways, there is typically some binding in the elbow joints.

How You Activate and Intensify This Pain Pattern

Jerking or straining the elbow can also cause this pain. Holding the elbow flexed, such as you might when carrying trash bags or suitcases, may aggravate the trigger point.

Biceps also get strained when the elbow is straightened with force or a jerky motion. Triggers for this include a forceful backhand in tennis or getting the arm jerked when raising the tailgate on your SUV.


The Musculoskeletal Anatomy Behind Your Pain

Anatomy – Throacic Outlet

The anatomy of these structures is important to understand the syndrome. This post walks through the structures one at a time.

The biceps brachii is complex in its anatomy and how it behaves in the upper arm. Read more in this post about the anatomy of biceps brachii.

Getting Relief on Your Own

Clinically Proven
Self-Care Strategies

This post has strategies for getting relief on your own. Explore how to change your activities, stretch, and other strategies that relieve the pain associated with this trigger point.

Therapy Notes for Massage and Bodywork

Better Bodywork
Through Shared Expertise

This post has techniques, tips, treatment routines, and anatomy illustrations to improve the bodyworker’s approach.

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Does Your Shoulder Hurt From the Covid-19 Vaccine?

This post offers quick, lasting relief from the pain in your shoulder that came from the vaccine. You will need an ice cube and about 2 minutes.

Tony Preston has a practice in Atlanta, Georgia, where he sees clients. He has written and taught about anatomy, trigger points, and cranial therapies since the mid-90s.

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*This site is undergoing significant changes. We are reformatting and expanding the posts to make them easier to read. The result will also be more accessible and will include more patterns with better self-care. In the meanwhile, there may be inconsistencies in formatting, content presentation, and readability. Until we get older posts updated, please excuse our mess.

1 thought on “Front of Elbow Pain When Carrying or Shoveling”

  1. Pingback: Superficial strip of shoulder pain when reaching up - Integrative Works

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