If you slip, fall, and land on your elbow, a fracture or dislocation is likely to take place. Common knowledge tells us that these instances are emergency situations and should be managed immediately. While it’s really not that hard to tell when you need to see a doctor for your elbow injury, there are some types of elbow conditions that seem much less urgent but are not any less dangerous. These insidious conditions lay low at the start, showing little signs – if any – of the presence of a problem. Although your mind might tell you it’s okay to hold off the check-up for a little later on, these three telltale signs should tell you to get your elbow pain checked stat.


  1. If Pain Occurs Even When the Arm is Not in Use – If you incurred a minor elbow injury, it’s normal to experience a little pain when you move the joint. Depending on your threshold, the pain should feel tolerable enough to allow you to move the elbow through its natural range of motion if you do it slowly, albeit the pain being present all throughout. However, if the pain continues to occur even if you’re not moving your arm, it might be high time to see a specialist to inspect the affected joint. This could be indicative of an issue with the nerves passing along the elbow. An infection and muscular concerns are also possible.


  1. If Swelling Does Not Subside After a Few Days – The body will usually take two to three days to naturally reduce the swelling on its own, and that’s an indication of proper healing. But if you injure your elbow and the swelling has not reduced but worsened over the course of three days, it would be best to see your doctor to get your elbow pain checked. Often, an increase in swelling means that whatever structure damaged inside your elbow was not properly addressed, thus causing the problem to get much worse over time. In case of excessive swelling and pain, immobilize the joint in the most comfortable position and see your doctor immediately.


  1. If The Elbow Joint Appears Deformed – Because some people tend to have higher pain thresholds, even major injuries can seem tolerable. Unfortunately, skipping out on seeing your doctor after an elbow injury can cause serious problems with the natural synergy of the different parts that constitute your elbow joint. Fractures that are left to heal on their own can reconstruct themselves improperly, thus causing bony protrusions and outgrowths that change the way your elbow looks and moves. Overstretched muscles in the elbows can stiffen and become rigid over time, allowing a very limited range of motion, if any at all. If you inspect your elbow at the surface and notice that it doesn’t look quite right, or if you compare it with your healthy elbow and see that there is a large disparity between the way they look, it would be best to see a doctor.

It’s okay to stay at home and care for your own elbow injury if you’re sure it’s nothing major. But if things start to get out of hand, or if your gut tells you to seek medical attention, don’t hesitate to visit your primary doctor as soon as possible.