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Common Causes of Elbow Pain

woman with elbow pain Elbow pain can make it difficult to carry out your daily tasks, and it’s often accompanied by other symptoms such as swelling and lack of normal mobility.

In this blog, orthopedic physicians Dr. Ather Mirza and Dr. Justin Mirza of Mirza Orthopedics explain some of the common causes of elbow pain.

What is elbow pain?

Your elbow is a joint formed where three bones come together, with cartilage on the end of each bone. Ligaments help hold them in place, and tendons connect your bones to muscles, which allows your arm to make many different types of motions.

Any of these components – as well as their surrounding nerves and blood vessels – can cause pain when something goes wrong.

What are the symptoms associated with it?

The following symptoms are common with elbow pain:

  • Pain or a burning sensation
  • Swelling
  • Discoloration
  • Difficulty bending the elbow
  • Inability to move the elbow
  • A locking sensation in the elbow
  • A grating sound when the elbow moves
  • Difficulty gripping objects
  • Difficulty with range of motion
  • Protruding bone
  • Obvious deformity

What are the causes of elbow pain?

Elbow pain can have many different causes, including the following:

One-time injuries

  • Dislocated elbow – a bone is knocked out of place
  • Fractured elbow – a bone that breaks at the elbow
  • Strains – stretched or torn muscles
  • Sprains – stretched or torn ligaments

Wear-and-tear injuries

  • Bursitis – swollen bursa (small sacs with fluid in them) can be caused by repetitive motions as well as an accident or infection
  • Tendinitis – swelling in the tendons (often called tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow, depending on its location)
  • Stress fracture – small crack in an arm bone, often from overuse
  • Trapped nerves – nerves become squeezed, also called cubital tunnel syndrome or ulnar nerve entrapment

Diseases

  • Arthritis – most commonly rheumatoid arthritis (which causes swelling), but also osteoarthritis (which causes pain and stiffness)
  • Gout – painful buildup of uric acid
  • Lupus – immune system disease that can sometimes cause elbow problems
  • Lyme disease – carried by ticks and can affect joints including the elbow

What are the treatment options?

Conservative treatments are often tried first. They can include the following:

  • Rest – avoiding the activity that caused your injury
  • Ice – applying an ice pack for 15 to 20 minutes three times a day
  • Compression – using a compression bandage to reduce swelling
  • Elevation – elevating your arm to reduce swelling
  • Bracing or immobilizing your arm
  • Physical therapy
  • Padding your elbow
  • Using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Getting a steroid injection

If your symptoms don’t improve after more conservative forms of treatment, surgery may be an option in some cases.

Why Mirza Orthopedics?

Mirza Orthopedics is Long Island’s leading orthopedic practice, and we’re dedicated to diagnosing and treating all types of elbow conditions as well as those that affect the hand, wrist, and shoulder. Our doctors are dedicated to research and innovation that help patients experience increased mobility as well as relief from pain while receiving the least-invasive treatment possible.

If you’re experiencing elbow pain, make an appointment today with Mirza Orthopedics. We’ll provide the treatment you need to help you get back to your active lifestyle.

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