How to Relieve Selfie Elbow- Yes, it’s a thing.

How to Relieve Selfie Elbow- Yes, it’s a thing.

There’s Tennis Elbow, Golfer’s Elbow and now (drum roll please) Selfie Elbow.

Selfie Elbow is the result of microtrauma (continual stress) on the muscles and tendons at the elbow caused by repetitive overuse, stretching and awkward positioning. Your muscles and tendons work to keep the muscle attached to the bone as well as help extend and stabilize the wrist. According to Jordan Metzl, a sports medicine physician at the Hospital for Special Surgery, “you get selfie elbow from taking too many selfies, as you put too much stress on the muscle and it irritates the area where the muscle comes off the bone and you get this inflammatory response.”

Selfies are popular, and not just popular among our youth, but popular across generations! According to a 2016 article in the Washington Post, “Today” show host Hoda Kotb,  told Elle that her doctor believes her elbow pain stems from her love of selfies — or more specifically, the uncomfortable grip she was putting her hand in each time she snapped a picture.

Have you ever tried so hard to get that perfect selfie (the one where your arm ends up hurting but momma didn’t raise a quitter so you grin even harder and extend your arm even further?) Well, friend, you are not the only one. For those who have not experienced such a painful feat, but may have a family member who has, the time has come to address Selfie Elbow. If you or someone you know is experiencing pain on the outside of the elbow during activity, having trouble with grasping or gripping, or a dull ache while resting at night, you may need to exit out of your camera and call Performance Physical Therapy!

How to Relieve Selfie Elbow:

If you’re experiencing Selfie Elbow, try to limit the time spent on taking selfies, frequently change arm positions and engage in upper extremity exercises. Dr. Megan Self, PT, DPT suggests the following simple exercises you can do in the comfort of your own home!

Wrist Flexion and Extension Stretch

Keeping your elbow straight, use your unaffected hand to bend the affected wrist downward as shown. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds.

Still keeping your elbow straight, use your unaffected hand to band the wrist upward as shown. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds.

Repeat    2 Times

Hold       30 Seconds

Perform  2 Time(s) a Day

See the exercise in this video

Wrist Flexion Curls

Hold a small free weight, rest your forearm on a table and bend your wrist up and down with your palm face up as shown.     

Repeat    10 Times

Hold        1 Second

Complete 2 Sets

Perform   2 Time(s) a Day

See the exercise in this video

Putty Squeeze

Squeeze putty in hand trying to keep it round by rotating putty after each squeeze. Push fingers through putty to palm each time.

Duration    2 Minutes

Complete   1 Set

Perform     2 Time(s) a Day

See the exercise in this video

What to do when the Pain Persists:

If the above exercises and refraining from taking selfies aren’t enough to relieve the pain, the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons suggests:

  1. Physical therapy to stretch and build strength, you can make an appointment here.
  2. Behavior modification – a change in posture/position while taking Selfies.
  3. An elbow brace to be worn during the daytime and a wrist brace at night – holding both in anatomically comfortable positions.

The next time you’re in a group setting that requires documenting the moment, and your friends proclaim “Selfie!” we suggest, dare we say, go “old school” and ask someone else to take your photo. That way you avoid any future discomfort and the chance to focus on perfecting your pose.  Your muscles and tendons will be so very thankful!



Performance Physical Therapy is the Sacramento region’s favorite Physical Therapy team. With appointments available within 24 hours, you can book your Physical Therapy, Aquatic Therapy, Hand Therapy and Vestibular Rehabilitation appointment and begin treatment quickly. We proudly serve in four locations: Folsom, Roseville, Rancho Cordova and J street In East Sacramento as well as their surrounding cities such as Midtown, Auburn, Rocklin, Elk Grove, Antelope, and Citrus Heights. Let us help you live your most mobile life and get you back to doing the activities you love.

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