Elbow Tattoo Pain – How Bad Do They Hurt?

How Bad Do Elbow Tattoos Hurt?

Elbow tattoos are undeniably beautiful and stand you out from the crowd — hopefully, that’s what you’re gunning for. However, you may have some reservations, especially if it’s going to be your first. 

The one thing you must’ve been told is that getting a tattoo entails being subjected to a painful process. Well, yes, it’s true, they can be pretty little devils. Elbow tattoos are not an exception to this, but how badly do they hurt exactly?

Getting an elbow tattoo can be a painful experience, but the severity of the pain may be determined by individual pain thresholds. There’s also minimum protection by way of fat and muscle on the elbow bone, making it an incredibly sensitive part of the body.

Why Do Elbow Tattoos Hurt?

The different parts of the human body have varying degrees of sensitivity. Generally speaking, parts of the body with the skin close to the bone tend to be more sensitive because of the vibrations caused by tattooing over bone. The elbow stands out in this classification along with the shoulders, ribs, feet, neck, and face. 

How Bad Do Elbow Tattoos Hurt?

There are two main parts of the elbow to consider. The outer elbow and the ditch, which is the inner part of the elbow. They both hurt but at varying levels, and the pain is caused by different factors. 

The Outer Elbow

People have experienced different pain levels during the process of getting an elbow tattoo. We know people who have described it as about the most painful experience they’ve had, while others feel it’s bearable.

This is basically down to individual pain thresholds. Saniderm’s tattoo pain chart labels it as an 8–10 pain level, with 10 being the worst pain. 

We understand that tattoos on body parts where the skin is close to the bone will hurt quite a bit, but the process of elbow tattooing necessitates that the skin is made even thinner.

To do this, the tattoo artist will need to make sure your arm is straight. This solidifies a clean design but means there’s as little protection between the needle and pain receptors. 

The Ditch or Inner Part of the Elbow

While the pain of tattooing the outer elbow is mainly due to the absence of fat that serves as a cushioning, pain on the ditch is down to extreme sensitivity because of the proximity of the nerves. Nerves tell the brain that something is happening to the body, which is what the feeling of pain is — a warning sign. 

The inner part of the elbow is a pathway for two of the three arm nerves; unfortunately, the ditch provides about the least amount of padding. This means there could be some contact between the needle and either or both of these nerves, but only if the artist isn’t very experienced.

An excruciating amount of pain down the rest of the body is a direct repercussion of pinching the nerves. This makes the inner elbow one of the most sensitive and painful parts of the body to tattoo. 

How to Minimize Elow Tattoo Pain

The pain of getting a tattoo is one of those things you’ll have to accept before you step into your tattooist’s studio.

Be smart and take steps to ensure the pain is kept at a minimum:

Only Use a Licensed Tattooist

Experienced licensed artists will get your tattoo done in a quicker time. They’ll also maintain a high level of hygiene, which is crucial.

Pick a Less Sensitive Body Part 

For a first tattoo, it’s wise to start on a bearable body part. This will build your pain threshold and make more painful tattoos bearable.

Avoid Tattooing When You’re Sick

This will be a costly mistake. Sickness increases the general body sensitivity and makes it a bad time for any activities that may cause pain.

Dress in Loose and Comfortable Clothing

The pain of tattooing will last even after the process is over. This is the wrong time to have clothing in direct contact with the tattooed part.

Try a Skin-Numbing Cream

Skin numbing products can be applied either before or during a tattoo sitting, and can have a big effect on the pain. However, everybody reacts differently to these products, so results may vary.


My Favorite Tattoo Numbing Product


Ebanel 5% Lidocaine Topical Numbing Cream Maximum Strength, 4.4 Oz Pain Relief Cream Anesthetic Cream Infused with Aloe Vera, Vitamin E, Lecithin, Allantoin, Secured with Child Resistant Cap

Ebanel 5% Lidocaine Topical Numbing Cream Maximum Strength, 4.4 Oz Pain Relief Cream Anesthetic Cream Infused with Aloe Vera, Vitamin E, Lecithin, Allantoin, Secured with Child Resistant Cap

One of the most effective tattoo numbing products currently on the market is a cream called Numb 520. The feedback left by hundreds of customers for this product is nothing short of brilliant.

Just follow the instructions on the tubs, apply shortly before your tattoo session is due to begin and look forward to a less-painful experience.

The 1.35oz tub also ensures you will have more than enough cream for a large tattoo.

Give it a try, and I’m confident you will not be disappointed.

Read more about Numb 520 here, and have a quick look at some of the customer reviews to see exactly why it’s one of the best and most popular numbing creams on the market.

Here’s a selection of my other favorite tattoo numbing creams and sprays currently available.


They Hurt, but It’s Not the End of the World

The moment you decide on getting an elbow tattoo, you should know you’ve signed off on some degree of pain — that’s the price you have to pay. This shouldn’t discourage you, especially since the pain is temporary, as opposed to the beautiful piece of artistry you would’ve acquired.

If this is your first tattoo, perhaps consider getting a tattoo on a more meatier part of the body, first. This will give you an insight into how much a tattoo on a less pain-sensitive part of the body hurts. You can then expand to an elbow tattoo from there.

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