The elbow is a joint formed by three bones that come together:
- Upper arm bone (humerus)
- Thinner and longer of the two bones in the forearm (ulna)
- Shorter and thicker bone in the forearm (radius)
Elbow pain is typically caused by overuse and sports injuries. The following are some conditions that can cause elbow pain:
- Medial Epicondylitis (Golfer's Elbow) - tendinopathy of the inner tendons in the elbow commonly caused by repetitive movements resulting from work or household chores, a baseball pitcher's repetitive throwing motion and golfer's downward swing of a golf club./li>
- Lateral Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow) - tendinopathy of the tendons on the outside of the elbow commonly caused by repetitive movements resulting from household chores, racquet sports and certain occupations.
- Olecranon Bursitis (Student's Elbow, Miner's Elbow, Draftsman's Elbow) - inflammation of the small sacs of fluid (bursae) that help protect the pointed elbow bone typically caused by trauma (e.g., falling on the elbow or hitting it on a hard surface).
- Osteoarthritis (OA) - damage and deterioration of the cartilage (connective tissue in the joints) typically age-related but can also be due to a previous injury (e.g., elbow fracture).
- Elbow Strain - over-stretched or torn forearm flexor or extensor muscles typically caused by trauma or overuse.
- Elbow Sprain - over-stretched or torn ligaments (band of tissue that connects bone to bone) that can result from trauma or overuse.
- Elbow Dislocation - a bone moves from its usual position commonly caused by catching yourself during a fall or when you swing a toddler by the forearms (nursemaid's elbow).
- Elbow Fracture - when a bone cracks or breaks typically resulting from a sudden blow (e.g., an auto accident or contact sports injury).
- Osteochondritis Dissecans (Panner's Disease) - small pieces of cartilage and bone become dislodged in the elbow joint typically resulting from a sports injury.
Elbow pain is typically short-term and no cause for concern. These can usually be treated rest, ice therapy, medication and physical therapy. However, if you are experiencing these symptoms, it would be a good idea to consult with an orthopedic doctor.
- Your elbow doesn't improve after treating with rest and ice therapy.
- Your elbow is painful even when you aren't using your arm.
- Pain, redness or swelling continues to get worse instead of better.
- You are not able to move your elbow or arm normally.
- Normal, everyday activities are painful or becoming more difficult to do.
Fractures and dislocations are serious conditions requiring immediate medical attention. See a doctor right away if:
- Your elbow is intensely painful and has bruising and swelling around the joint.
- You notice an obvious deformity in your elbow.
- You are unable to move your able.
- Your elbow starts hurting following an injury or fall.