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Thread: Sharp elbow joint pain from pressing

  1. #1

    Default Sharp elbow joint pain from pressing

    I've had significant elbow pain in both elbows that started about 3-4 months ago and slowly got worse and worse. I've had golfer's elbow a few times before and this feels different. This feels almost like joint swelling or arthritic-type pain; rather than the tendon related issues with golfer's or tennis elbow that I've dealt with before.

    I'm 41, 5'9", BW 230 lb., all-time PRs are: Bench - 315; Press - 220; DL - 425; SQT - 365; and, PC - 255. At the time the pain started I was doing SSOC. I had mentioned it in passing to my coach, but it was not really significant at the time. I had to end my SSOC subscription after April due to a reduction in hours at work and I could no longer afford the fee. Otherwise, a great program that I highly recommend to anyone who can afford it. I mention this only because my coach never had any issues with my bench press form (ok not quite never, but I only recall 1 or 2 minor queues over the 4 months I was doing SSOC for bench), so I don't think this is a result of a form issue. However, if I need to I'd be happy to film something.

    The pain is at the tips of my elbow joints. It becomes aggravated with any pressing movements, but particularly heavy benches. It also hurts to extend my arm fully. When I do this, sometimes my elbow pops and there is sharp pain when this occurs, but it does seem to relieve some of the chronic pain afterwards. The elbow joint is tender to the touch or if I bump it into something, which can be extremely painful. After I lift, it slowly gets better.

    I've tried ibuprofen. I've tried icing my elbows after workouts and periodically on rest days.

    At first, it only bothered me on bench, but it started bothering me on press a few weeks later. At first, it was only my right elbow, but it started affecting my left as well and the pain is now almost identical in both. At the height of this, it was painful even to do unweighted push-ups or to sometimes to even push open stubborn doors, etc.

    About 6 weeks ago, I hit a new workset PR on bench at 315x1x3. The pain was almost unbearable after each single. At this point, I decided I should take a break from all pressing movements. During this time the chronic pain all but went away and towards the end of it I had no pain interacting with my environment or doing push ups, etc.

    So, last week I started bench pressing again and the pain has immediately returned, but to a lesser degree. I only pressed 215x5x2 for my second workout after a 6 week layoff and although the pain and duration of symptoms were much reduced, virtually all of the same symptoms were present just to a lesser degree.

    I've been thinking about dropping the bench and just doing press only. Or, maybe trying to dumbbell press and see if that helps, but I don't have a lot of dumbbells and they are expensive. My fear of course is that now that I am back on LP after the layoff I'll just encounter the same increasing pain as the weight goes up.

    Anyone ever dealt with anything like this or have any thoughts on what this might be or how to work around it? For a while, I was thinking it might just be arthritis or gout, but never heard of that just being in the elbows.

    Thanks in advance for any advice.
    Last edited by shriverm; 07-17-2017 at 12:11 PM.

  2. #2

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    They say elbow pain is usually caused by the squat, don't know if that's your case but keep it in mind.
    Also look around for what it might be, usually it's either tendonitis (which you ruled out) or bursitis, check to see if it matches your symptoms.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nate9 View Post
    They say elbow pain is usually caused by the squat, don't know if that's your case but keep it in mind.
    Also look around for what it might be, usually it's either tendonitis (which you ruled out) or bursitis, check to see if it matches your symptoms.
    Thanks for the response. I have felt elbow pain sourced from squatting and this is different. I have not really considered bursitis. This might be something to consider as my initial review of its symptoms seems similar to what I have been dealing with and would explain how it feels different from the tendonitis-type pain I've previously experienced. However, I have not noticed any significant swelling, but I am not sure if that always occurs with bursitis. Thanks for that. I'll look into it some more.

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    Orlando
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    I was (dubiously) diagnosed with ruptured bursa in my right elbow about 20 years ago. The swelling was incredible for about 10 days and even now my right elbow protrudes a little more than my left. Couple that with being quite clumsy, and it means I bang my right one quite frequently, and that often leads to recurring pain when extending it. Often just warming up can help, but when it is particularly bad I use a really tight compression wrap (usually a voodoo floss band) during my warm ups and that usually allows me to train largely unaffected. The fact that after years of following this protocol the issue keeps recurring suggests isnt actually treating the underlying issue, and so I suspect it is more a case of manipulating the brain to interpret pain differently (note, the warm ups hurt like hell). It allows me to keep training though.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by LimieJosh View Post
    I was (dubiously) diagnosed with ruptured bursa in my right elbow about 20 years ago. The swelling was incredible for about 10 days and even now my right elbow protrudes a little more than my left. Couple that with being quite clumsy, and it means I bang my right one quite frequently, and that often leads to recurring pain when extending it. Often just warming up can help, but when it is particularly bad I use a really tight compression wrap (usually a voodoo floss band) during my warm ups and that usually allows me to train largely unaffected. The fact that after years of following this protocol the issue keeps recurring suggests isnt actually treating the underlying issue, and so I suspect it is more a case of manipulating the brain to interpret pain differently (note, the warm ups hurt like hell). It allows me to keep training though.
    A friend of mine has a voodoo band. I might have to hit him up and try it out. Thanks!

  6. #6
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    Feb 2016
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    Are you doing chins/pull ups?

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Illingworth View Post
    Are you doing chins/pull ups?
    Yes. Right now it does not seem to aggravate my elbows. However, when I was at the height of my pain/inflammation, they did aggravate my elbows. During chins was really the only time it sort of felt more like tendinitis, as the pain radiated up towards my wrists, but I've never had the really tight tendon pain I've always had with golfer's elbow. The pain has been much more directly at the points of my elbows. Maybe it is just a more acute golfer's elbow, but the other thing is the exercises I've previously done to resolve golfer's elbow, like reverse wrist curls and finger extensions, have not helped like they previously have.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
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    I was having elbow pain every once and a while and then for about a month straight every time I pressed (wasn't benching at the time).

    It has completely gone away. The three things that have changed in my programming that may be factors.

    1- Started benching. (Doubt it.)
    2- I do my presses in the 1.0 style and realized that I might have been "dropping" the weight too relaxed, so I slowed the descent a bit. (Maybe)
    3- I have been doing direct tricep and bicep work (alternating each session) with fairly light weights for fairly high reps (10-12). (Probably this.)

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
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    Kansas City, MO
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    I have this same pain in both elbows. I've been dealing with it for the past 2 months. It seemed to be brought on by adding weighted dips so I think it is an issue with the tendons that attach the tricep to the point of the elbow. I have used a lax ball to roll the tricep and the area just above the point of the elbow. This seems to help enough so I can keep benching. It started getting a little better when I stopped skipping chins (amrap 1x per week and weighted 1x per week) and added in dumb bell curl and tricep work once per week. I still do 3 sets of 10 dips but only at bodyweight. It is a slow road to recovery but it seems to be getting slightly better for the past 2 weeks. I haven't skipped any lifting because of it. FWIW - I'm 48, 210 lbs and we are benching the same weight.

  10. #10

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    Hmm... Well, I guess what I am hearing from the last couple folks is a suggestion to do more direct arm work. I've never really focused on this, and during my most recent training progression my bench and press have been higher than they've ever been. During this time I was doing no direct arm work unless you count chins about once a week (even then, I was a bit spotty about it - always hated doing them, always had a good excuse I could tell myself for skipping them). I know when I've had my golfer's elbow issues the only thing that has ever helped has been to strengthen the antagonist muscles (with reverse wrist curls, finger extensions, etc.). I am wondering if I am running into a similar issue with my triceps and I need to do some direct bicep work maybe?

    I recall when I finally hit 315x1x3, it felt almost like I had a ridiculously powerful charlie horse right at the triceps insertion point after each single. Might be making sense. I think I will make sure I am doing my chins every week for a bit and maybe add in some barbell curls from time to time for good measure and see if that helps.

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