Reducing Elbow Pain Caused by Casting

For those who only go fishing every now and then, this article may not be as applicable for you as those who are constantly trying to land a trophy unless you play other sports that require lots of repetitive arm motion. Nevertheless, anyone who experiences elbow pain from repetitive activities may find some useful information here.

As the title suggests, we would like to offer a few of our own tips for reducing elbow that is caused by casting or other activities. If you haven’t experienced this type of pain before, you may be wondering why it’s such a big deal. When I first started to show signs of this, I was a little baffled, but assumed it was nothing. Over time, the pain became worse and worse, to the point where casting was actually difficult for me, yet when simply holding the rod I felt almost no pain. After talking with some other experienced anglers, some of which had the same problems in the past, they told me this was actually quite common for those who fish everyday, and it stems from an issue that is common in a lot of other sports and occupations as well.

The fancy term for the condition that leads to this pain is “lateral epicondylitis” or “medial epicondylitis” depending on where in the elbow you feel the pain. This may sound serious and complicated, but it’s actually quite easy to understand. When you perform repetitive movements over long periods of time, such as casting, the tendons that cross over your elbow constantly rub over the bone. Normally this is ok and there is enough lubrication that you don’t even feel it, but with enough repetition, things can start to wear down, and as a result damage and swelling accumulates at the same time, ultimately creating a snowball effect. So what can you do to get back to casting pain-free?

  1. A temporary solution is to take an anti-inflammatory (e.g. Advil) and acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol) before and after fishing. This might not reduce your pain completely, and it certainly isn’t a long term solution, but it offers a quick fix in the mean time. Just don’t do this all the time. Advil is really tough on the stomach lining and Tylenol is very hard on the liver. Keep this in mind if you are also consuming alcohol!
  2. While this condition is called lateral/medial epicondylitis, a more commonly known name is tennis elbow (lateral) and golfer’s elbow (medial), as these are the sports that most commonly produce this condition. Just like casting in fishing, those sports also involve repetitive movement at the elbow joint. These conditions have been extensively studied, and as such, there are lots of simple little braces you can wear to help reduce pain during activity. A tennis elbow brace and golfers elbow brace act in the exact same fashion. They are small straps with a little bit of padded that loop around your upper forearm. They compress the tendons, which alters the line of pull, and subsequently alleviates the pressure on the damaged or swollen area. The actually work really well, but like Advil and Tylenol, offer a temporary solution. The advantage here is that braces will be more affordable in the long term (just need to buy once, not very expensive) and you aren’t harming any of your internal organs.
  3. Physiotherapy, or very worst case, surgery, represent the best long term solutions for actually treating your condition. Lots of people avoid physiotherapists especially when they don’t have insurance coverage, which is totally understandable. However, even going in for the initial assessment will provide you with a lot of information and direction for how to treat your elbow pain from casting. They will be able to assess how serious the condition is, the best and most practical methods to treat it, as well as more general info for how you can maintain a healthy elbow joint in the future.

Those are the big three tips. Not everyone will experience epicondylitis from casting, but those who do may benefit from this knowledge and taking it seriously before it progresses too far. If you have any doubts, or simply want to learn more, we suggest doing some reading online, as well as visiting your doctor or physiotherapist for an individual assessment.

Good luck out there!