This article describes aching or other discomfort in the elbow that is not related to direct injury.
Pain – elbow
Elbow pain can be caused by a variety of problems. A common cause in adults is
People who play racquet sports are most likely to injure the tendons on the outside of the elbow. This condition is commonly called
Other common causes of elbow tendinitis are gardening, playing baseball, using a screwdriver, or overusing your wrist and arm.
Young children commonly develop “nursemaid’s elbow,” usually when someone is pulling on their straightened arm. The bones are stretched apart momentarily and a ligament slips in between, where it becomes trapped when the bones try to snap back into place. Children will usually quietly refuse to use the arm, but often cry out with any attempt to bend or straighten the elbow. This condition is also called an elbow subluxation (a partial
Other common causes of elbow pain are:
Bursitis— inflammation of a fluid-filled cushion beneath the skin Arthritis— narrowing of the joint space and loss of cartilage in the elbow
- Infection of the elbow
Gently try to move the elbow and increase your range of motion. If this hurts you, or you cannot move the elbow, call your doctor or nurse.
Call your health care provider if
Call your doctor or nurse if:
- You have a prolonged case of tendinitis that doesn’t improve with home care.
- The pain is due to a direct elbow injury.
- There is obvious deformity.
- You are unable to use the elbow.
- You have
feveror swellingand redness of your elbow.
- Your elbow is locked.
- A child has elbow pain.
What to expect at your health care provider’s office
Your doctor or nurse will examine you, and carefully check your elbow. You will be asked questions about your medical history and symptoms, such as:
- Are both elbows affected?
- Does the pain shift from the elbow to other joints?
- Is the pain over the outside bony prominence of the elbow?
- Did the pain begin suddenly and severely?
- Did the pain begin slowly and mildly and then get worse?
- Is the pain resolving spontaneously?
- Did the pain begin following an injury?
- What makes the pain better or worse?
Treatment depends on the cause, but may involve:
- Corticosteroid shots
- Pain medicine
- Physical therapy
- Surgery (last resort)