Common Causes of Elbow Pain

May 17, 2018

Your elbow forms where three bones come together: your upper arm bone, the humerus, and your two forearm bones, the ulna and the radius. Each of your bones has cartilage attached to the end, which help them slide against one another and absorb shock. Your cartilage is locked in place by your ligaments, and your tendons connect your bones to your muscles, allowing you to move your arm in various directions.

Needless to say, the elbow is an important joint in your body, and if anything happens to it, it can cause you major pain. Here are a few common injuries related to the elbow:

One-time Injuries

Some elbow injuries may be one-off occurrences, such as when you get hit hard while playing a sport, or after a hard fall.

  • Dislocated elbow: This can happen when the bones that form your elbow get knocked out of place, like attempting to brace a fall by sticking your hand out.
  • Fractured elbowA sudden blow in a contact sport or car accident could cause your elbow to fracture. This happens when one of your arm bones breaks at the elbow.
  • Strains and Sprains: Elbow strains take place after lifting heavy objects, which can apply too much pressure to the muscles. A sprain occurs when the ligaments get stretched or torn.

All of these one-time injuries can be treated with ice and plenty of rest, along with stretching and strength exercises, once the pain is gone.

Wear-and-Tear Injuries

  • Bursitis: Bursa, small fluid sacs in your joints, help to cushion your bones, muscles and tendons. They can sometimes become inflamed and cause pain due to repeating the same motion over and over again. Certain accidents or infections can also cause this type of elbow injury. Often, bursitis is treated with pain medicine and starts to get better within a few weeks.
  • Tennis elbow: This is a form of tendinitis, which means the tendons around your elbow swell from overuse, such as repetitive arm motions used in sports. This particular injury affects the outside of your elbow.

If you suffer from an elbow injury, be sure to apply ice to the hurt area and get plenty of rest. If intense pain or swelling occurs, or if you have difficulty bending your arm, visit the doctor immediately.

This article was adapted from WebMD. Read the full article here.

If you have any questions about elbow pain and injuries, please contact Campbell Clinic to meet with a physician.


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