Doctor's Notes on Elbow Pain
Elbow pain describes any sharp, dull, burning, pressure, discomfort, or pain that can be sporadic, constant, or shooting due to a strain, sprain, fracture, dislocation, infection, autoimmune condition, cancer, trauma or contusion to the structures in and adjacent to the elbow joint. There are many possible causes of elbow pain, such as:
- sprains and strains,
- tennis elbow,
- golfer's elbow,
- throwing injuries,
- radial nerve compression,
- ulnar nerve compression,
- ligament tears,
- injuries to any elbow component,
- elbow dislocation,
- fractures of the elbow or arm,
- rheumatoid arthritis,
- osteochondritis dissecans,
- infections of the elbow joint, or
Symptoms that may accompany elbow pain include using other joints to compensate for the loss of movement, which may result in discomfort or pain in other joints or muscles, such as the shoulder, wrist, forearm, or hand.
What Is the Treatment for Elbow Pain?
Treatments for elbow pain depend on the underlying cause and may include:
- Immobilization or casting
- Medications to control pain and reduce inflammation
- Cold or ice pack application
- Drainage or antibiotics if infection is present
- Surgical repair of certain bone fractures
- Physical therapy
Pain : Test Your IQ of Pain QuizQuestion
Medically speaking, the term "myalgia" refers to what type of pain?See Answer
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Dislocated Elbow (Slipped Elbow)Elbow dislocation occurs when the bones of the forearm (the radius and ulna) move out of place compared with the bone of the upper arm (the humerus). Symptoms and signs include elbow pain, swelling, and inability to bend the arm. Treatment involves reduction of the elbow under conscious sedation. X-rays will then be taken and your elbow will be put in a splint to keep the elbow bent.
Joint PainJoint pain can be caused by injury or disease affecting any of the ligaments, bursae, or tendons surrounding the joint. Pain also occurs with joint inflammation (arthritis) and infection. Joint pain symptoms can be associated with local warmth, swelling, and tenderness. Treatment depends on the cause and can include rest, cold applications, medications, physical therapy, or surgery.
Nursemaid's Elbow (in Children)Nursemaid elbow (or radial head subluxation) is a common injury in children. Causes of this injury include lifting the child by the hand or wrist, swinging the child by the hands or wrists, pulling arms through the sleeves of jackets, pulling a child along when in a hurry, and catching a child by the hand to prevent a fall. Symptoms include refusal to use the injured arm, crying in pain, holding the arm against the body in a slightly bent position. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen may be given for pain, and a bag of ice applied to the injury may also provide some relief. The doctor will need to perform a subluxation to move the bones back into place.
What Is the Best Treatment for Tennis Elbow?Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) refers to an injury to the outer elbow tendon that occurs after strenuous overuse of the muscles and tendons of the forearm, near the elbow joint. Treatment for tennis elbow involves both short-term pain relief and long-term health improvement of the tendons through exercise and physical therapy.
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.