Why do I have elbow pain after sleeping?

elbow pain after sleeping

It’s hard to imagine being able to use your arms without the use of your elbows. Yet, if you frequently wake up in the morning with elbow pain after sleeping, it often hurts to move your arms and engage your elbows.

Some mild soreness from sleeping on your elbow in an awkward position is to be expected. However, if you frequently wake up with elbow pain after sleeping, you may have a condition that requires professional treatment.

What causes elbow pain after sleeping?

Recurring elbow pain after sleeping may occur for a few reasons, including:

  • Ulnar nerve entrapment — The ulnar nerve is one of the main nerves in your arm. It passes from the neck through the arm and down into your hand. Because it is so long, there are many places along the arm it can become constricted and irritated from repetitive motions, including the shoulder, elbow and wrist.

    Pain on the inside of the elbow, along with numbness and tingling that may spread into your fingers, is a common sign of ulnar nerve entrapment.
  • Tendinitis — Tendinitis is the inflammation of a tendon due to strain from repetitive activity. This can affect one of the tendons in your elbow from activities that make frequent use of the elbows, such as golfing or playing tennis.

    The inflammation from tendinitis can grow exacerbated at night if you sleep with your elbow bent, which means you’ll wake up with elbow pain after sleeping.
  • Arthritis — Arthritis is a chronic condition that wears down the cartilage in your joints. It is common for arthritis pain to feel worse in the morning when waking up, especially if you sleep with the joint bent at night, like many people do with their elbows.

Visit Whatcom Physical Therapy for elbow pain treatment

Do you wake up most mornings with elbow pain after sleeping? It may be time to visit a physical therapist for examination and treatment. Our team at Whatcom Physical Therapy can examine your elbow to identify the cause of your pain and guide you through a personalized treatment. Contact our team today for more information about elbow pain treatment or to schedule an initial appointment.