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Does it hurt to straighten your arm? 5 virtual PT exercises that can help

You extend your arms on a daily basis more than you may realize. Whether you’re reaching to get something off the top shelf, raising your hand to ask a question during a work meeting or cleaning the windows in your house, straightening your arm plays a role in many of your day-to-day responsibilities. But what does it mean when you’re feeling pain from extending your arm?

Learn about possible reasons why it hurts to straighten your arm and how virtual physical therapy can help alleviate the pain.

Possible reasons why it hurts to straighten your arm

There are quite a few possible causes for pain from a straightened arm. Many of them stem from elbow issues, which can affect your range of motion for any sort of arm movement.

A few potential reasons why it hurts to straighten your arm include:

  • Tennis elbow — Lateral epicondylitis, usually referred to as tennis elbow, is an inflammation of the tissue that connects your elbow to your forearm. It’s an overuse injury caused by repetitive wrist and arm movements, making it especially common for tennis players as well as painters, cooks and plumbers.
  • Bursitis — Bursae are fluid-filled sacs that cushion our joints. Bursitis means that a bursa has become inflamed due to injury or overuse. As the elbow is a hinged joint, the bursae can become irritated, making it painful to straighten your arm.
  • Cubital tunnel syndrome — There’s a nerve that runs through the inside of your elbow, called the ulnar nerve. Cubital tunnel syndrome is when the ulnar nerve becomes inflamed and swollen due to compression, causing pain and tingling in your arm when your elbow is bent.
  • Dislocated elbow — Just like any other joint, an elbow can become dislocated when the bones are moved from their position — in this case the humerus, ulna and radius — resulting in pain and lack of mobility in the elbow.

5 virtual PT exercises that can help when it hurts to straighten your arm

Since nearly every possible cause of pain with an extended arm stems from the elbow, it’s important to focus on treating that specific joint. One of the best ways to treat elbow pain is through exercises that will allow you to increase the strength and flexibility of the muscles and the tendons surrounding the joint. Exercises help with pain management as well as increased range of motion in order to restore full mobility.

With virtual physical therapy appointments, your therapist can walk you through exercises that can help your elbow pain. They will also let you know how many times to do each exercise as well as how often you should do them between sessions.

Here are five possible virtual PT exercises for when it hurts to straighten your arm:

  • Fist clench — Rest your forearm on a table with your palm facing up. Place a towel or small ball in your hand. Squeeze the item for 10 seconds before releasing it. This can help to improve your grip strength, which may be weakened from elbow issues.
  • Wrist flexor stretch — Straighten out your arm with your palm facing up. Use your other arm to grab the fingers of your extended arm and bend your hand toward your body until you feel it in your forearm. Hold that position for 15 seconds. 
  • Elbow extension — Stand with your arms to your side. Bend one arm up as much as possible; then use your other hand to grip your elbow or wrist. Apply gentle pressure and hold your elbow in that position for five to 10 seconds before releasing it. 
  • Forearm supination — Supination means the ability to turn your wrist from palms down to up, affecting both your wrist and elbow joint. Keep your elbow at your side and raise it to a 90-degree angle with your palm facing up. Use your other hand to grip underneath your wrist and apply gentle pressure to push your wrist past its range of motion until you feel a stretch. Hold that position for five to 10 seconds.
  • Forearm strengthening — The best way to strengthen your forearm muscles and increase your range of motion is with weights. Take a 1-pound dumbbell and sit down so that your forearm is resting on your thigh or flat surface and the weight is hanging over the edge. Grip the end of the dumbbell, starting with your palm faceup, and use your forearm to twist it over so that it’s facing the ground. 

Agile Virtual PT can provide virtual physical therapy when it hurts to straighten your arm

Being unable to extend your arm can interfere with your day-to-day activities, which is why it’s important to know about the exercises that can help alleviate your pain and restore your range of motion.

When you’re ready to treat your elbow pain with virtual physical therapy, contact our team today for more information or to schedule an initial appointment.