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Elbow pain

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Our elbow is basically a joint formed by the distal end of the humerus in the upper arm and the proximal ends of the ulna and radius in the forearm. The joint is highly movable, and it aids in great deal of activities involved with your hands.  If you are constantly experiencing pain in your elbow then you must check with your doctor.


Symptoms associated with elbow pain

The type and severity of the symptoms differ, depending on the underlying injury.

Symptoms include: 

  • Pain accompanied by tenderness and swelling in and around elbow
  • Inability to move your elbow, lift or push or pull objects or any other work
  • If there’s fracture then you absolutely cannot move your elbow
  • Problem in nerves could be felt as “pin and needles” and it could radiate from your neck or shoulder
  • Your elbow would become stiff and tender along with pain in case of arthritis


Causes of elbow pain

Normal injury of elbow: Fallen over elbow, dashed your elbow against wall or something, fracture in arm or elbow, ligament tear or sprain, etc.

Sports injury: Tennis elbow, Golfer’s elbow, pitcher's elbow (mostly occurs in teenagers playing throw ball and baseball) etc.

Arthritic pain: Septic arthritis, osteoarthritis and rheumatic arthritis of the elbow

Olecranon bursitis: inflammation of the bursa at the tip of the elbow from trauma, infection, arthritis or gout.

Nerve compression: Ulnar nerve entrapment and radial tunnel syndrome (compression of the radial nerve of the forearm)

Diagnosis of elbow pain

Your doctor will physically evaluate the pain and other symptoms, which in this case is very much precise for a particular problem. You need to let your doctor know your medical history, explain him the symptoms and any kind of injury that you might have experienced.

Your doctor would further conduct an X ray. Other diagnostic tests like MRI, bone scan, arthrogram test and synovial fluid analysis might be ordered depending on the initial evaluation and x ray reports.


Treatment of elbow pain

As you can see there are so many numerous reasons behind elbow pain, the treatment quite certainly depends on your test reports and the underlying cause.

Some of the options chosen by doctors are: 

  • In most cases, the pain is managed with anti-inflammatory drugs and cortisone injections.
  • If there’s a fracture then a casting or surgical repair of the bone would be required.
  • Arthroscopy of the elbow might be performed to sort out multiple problems associated with the bones, ligaments, tendons, fluids, nerves etc. associated with the elbow.
  • Your doctor might also give you specific medicines for controlling arthritic pain.
  • Infection in synovial fluid is treated either by antibiotics or draining out the fluid.


Home care for elbow pain

  • Get help from a physiotherapist to learn the exercises that would reduce the pain, stiffness and enhance mobility of your elbow
  • You have to rest your elbow to recover quickly. Stay away from daily tasks and take break from sports for sometime
  • Your doctor might recommend ice or heat therapy as per the need. Follow his advice to get rid of elbow pain

Written by: healthplus24.com team
Date last updated: August 12, 2014

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