What Causes Elbow Pain?

No one likes it when part of their body hurts, particularly when it is a part they have to move quite a lot. One such part of the body is the elbow, which is crucial to moving the arm and perform countless activities. Quite a few different things can result in elbow pain, including both acute and chronic pain. The good news is the majority of elbow pain will improve with rest and treatment at home. However, affected individuals should go to the emergency room if they have a protruding bone or obvious elbow deformity. Patients should also call a doctor immediately if they have trouble moving their elbow or arm, or if they experience swelling and bruising surrounding the joint or severe pain. Patients should also schedule a doctor’s appointment if they have pain that doesn’t get better after using home remedies.

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Joint Sprain Or Strain

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Sprains are caused by ligaments becoming overstretched or torn. While sprains most commonly occur in the ankle, they can also occur in the elbow. A sprain is treated by resting the injured area, applying ice, elevating the injured area to improve blood circulation, and providing gentle compression. If an elbow sprain is severe enough, affected individuals might need to undergo surgery to help repair the torn ligament.

Strains occur when the tendons or muscles are injured. Tendons are responsible for attaching muscles to bones. The symptoms of these injuries vary depending on how severe the injury is. In addition to elbow pain, patients may also experience bruising, swelling, and a limited range of motion in the joint. It’s important to see a doctor if individuals think they may have a fracture. If an individual can’t move their elbow at all, have pain directly over the connecting bones, or feel any numbness around their elbow, they need to see a doctor.

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Tennis Elbow

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Tennis elbow is a condition that develops when elbow tendons become overloaded and is most commonly caused by repetitive motions in the arm and wrist. The medical term for tennis elbow is lateral epicondylitis. Though the condition is best known for being caused by tennis, there are many reasons individuals may develop it. Butchers, carpenters, painters, and plumbers all do jobs that involve the same kinds of repetitive motions that lead to tennis elbow. Elbow pain with this condition usually occurs where forearm tendons attach to the bony bump found outside the elbow. Depending on the case, the pain can move into the individual’s wrist and forearm. Over-the-counter pain medicine and rest can help relieve the pain from tennis elbow. If these treatments aren’t helpful, or if a patient’s symptoms are severe enough that they cause disability, surgery may be necessary. The weakness and pain associated with this condition may make individuals have trouble with holding a coffee cup, turning doorknobs, gripping objects, and shaking hands.

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Bursitis

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Bursitis develops when bursae, which are small sacs filled with fluid, become inflamed. Bursae are responsible for cushioning muscles, tendons, and bones around joints. In addition to the elbow, the other most common places for bursitis to occur are the shoulder and hip. Some individuals experience bursitis in the heel, base of the big toe, or knee. It’s most common for bursitis to develop by an individual’s elbow if they perform repetitive motions. The main treatment is to rest the affected elbow and keep it from experiencing any further trauma. The majority of cases resolve in a few weeks, provided patients have given their joint adequate rest. It is common for individuals to experience recurring flare-ups. Bursitis may cause the elbow joint to feel stiff and achy. It might also look red and swollen. If an individual’s elbow pain is caused by bursitis, the pain might get worse if they press on their elbow or move the joint. Affected individuals should call a doctor if they have a rash or bruising in the area, or if they experience disabling pain.

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Arthritis

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Multiple types of arthritis can cause swelling, stiffness, and pain in the elbows. Osteoarthritis is the most commonly occurring type of arthritis. It causes the cartilage cushioning joints to break down, which then causes bones to rub against each other and become damaged. Osteoarthritis in the elbows is generally caused by an injury or overuse. Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease that most commonly causes arthritis in the elbow. Since rheumatoid arthritis tends to have symmetrical joint involvement, usually both elbows will be affected. Some individuals have juvenile arthritis, which is arthritis that develops before they turn sixteen years old. Oligoarticular juvenile arthritis can often affect the elbows. Psoriatic arthritis is a type of arthritis that occurs alongside psoriasis, and these patients might experience a rash over their elbow and inflammation of the elbow.

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Broken Bone

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A broken bone can lead to pain in the elbow. Depending on the injury, patients might also experience pain in their hand, wrist, and shoulder, as well as the rest of their arm. Three bones comprise the arm: the humerus, radius, and ulna. Falling onto an outstretched hand is a very common cause of broken bones. If individuals suspect they have broken a bone, they should get medical treatment as soon as possible. It’s important to assess and treat the break to make sure it heals properly. Simple breaks are often treated with rest, ice, and an immobilizing sling. Some simple breaks need to be realigned in the emergency room so they don’t heal wrong, and more complicated breaks might need surgery to align the bones and make sure they stay in place while they heal. Broken arms tend to cause swelling, bruising, severe pain, and a lack of movement in the joints. The pain might get worse with movement.