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I started working out with free weights a couple months ago and have been making good muscle and strength gains. In the past week and a half I increased a lot of the weight so I could stay within my 6-12 rep range for my upper body which seems to give me a good workout. I've had this issue in my right arm for awhile, but now it's getting a bit worse. When I do pushups I get this tingling sensation in my right elbow, when flexing it hurts a little bit and when I rest that elbow on something it causes my fingers in that arm to get numb for awhile. I've read that it could be a torn tendon of some sort, but I'm not sure.

I've also followed advice of giving yourself 1-2 days of rest in-between workouts to allow your body to heal. I've been doing proper form and have not done anything that I couldn't handle with ease.

Unfortunately a doctor visit isn't an option unless it's something serious since I don't have insurance and I'm already in debt to the doctors office in the $10,000 range.

What could this be?

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We can't diagnose your health problems, but we can check your form on various exercises that you're doing. What are all the upper body exercises that you do? –  user3085 Aug 20 '12 at 23:53
    
I do bicep curls, for my triceps I put a weight behind my head and sort of do a reverse curl, I do forearm curls, for my shoulders I put dumbbells by my side and lift them up to shoulder height and I do rows for my back muscles. –  Erickj92 Aug 20 '12 at 23:56
    
Welcome to the Physical Fitness Stack Exchange site! Keep in mind that medical questions are generally off-topic as outlined in our faq. Sometimes your only option is really go see a medical professional. –  Matt Chan Aug 21 '12 at 2:05
    
How do you know your form is correct? –  user3085 Aug 21 '12 at 6:01
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3 Answers 3

Let me start by saying, I have a Bachelor's degree in Exercise Science and no doctorate to my name. That being said, it sounds more like a nerve impingement. Wiki yourself a diagram of how nerves run through the arm and you will see exactly where the nerves run. This can be caused by mal-alignment of joints, muscles pressing on the nerve, or even external pressures (think numb leg after sitting on the couch). If the numbness progresses or fails to go away after a short while (post exercise) you NEED TO SEE A DOCTOR IMMEDIATELY.

Now, I have had a patient in my care complain of this exact same problem. They had tried stretching, ice/heat therapy, NSAIDs, etc. The thing that worked, and what I would recommend you try, is finding a good massage therapist that can work your arm back to its normal state.

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I've had (and continue to have on occasion) elbow pain, the biggest help I've found was using the TheraBand Flexiband product (here at amazon). Basically you're performing an eccentric exercise to reduce pain assoc. with tendinitis (aka tennis elbow). Here's a video showing the use: http://youtu.be/tQfwpUd8t6o. Key short term help is rest and then exercise, use the theraband to reduce future injuries).

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Like I said in comments, we can't diagnose this, but advice that applies universally would be at least to rest until the pain goes away. You're correct that it's probably related to your lifting.

Now, I will attempt to give some non-medical advice related to your exercise selection and form.

Out of the exercises you list, the ones most likely to be the cause of your pain are your tricep extensions. They're an open-kinetic chain exercise of a multi-joint muscle (the tricep) that isolate only one of its functions (elbow extension). When you re-start, I'd suggest replacing them with lying tricep extensions, explained well in this video by Mark Rippetoe.

The only other tricep work you're doing is push-ups, which are pretty hard to mess up, but you should still post a form video to have somebody else check that you're using correct form or suggest modifications to alleviate elbow pain.

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