Elbow pain can be frustrating and prevent you from doing the things you want. Although elbow pain is often temporary (following minor injuries), there are some conditions and injuries that may require further evaluation and treatment by an orthopedic doctor. This is especially true for chronic elbow pain or pain following a serious injury. Seeing an orthopedic doctor can help you achieve the best outcomes and reduce further issues in the future.
The Elbow Joint
The anatomy of the elbow is complex. It is a hinge joint where the humerus (upper arm bone) meets the ulna and the radius (the bones in the forearm). The elbow joint is made up of bone, cartilage, ligaments, muscles, and tendons to give it its strength, flexibility, and range of motion. The elbow joint can make rotational movements and has the ability to flex and extend your hand and forearm. If the elbow gets damaged, it can limit your range of motion and lead to symptoms such as pain, swelling, numbness, tingling, and weakness.
What Causes Elbow Pain?
There are many disorders and injuries that can affect the elbow’s functionality and cause pain. In some cases, elbow pain can be felt immediately along with bruising and swelling. This most often happens after a sudden injury or direct blow. Other conditions causing elbow pain can get worse gradually over time, such as overuse injuries or repetitive movements which place stress on the elbow joint. This is also true for medical conditions that gradually deteriorate joints in the body. The most common causes of elbow pain are:
Arthritis can damage the elbow joint and can cause pain, stiffness, loss of function, and immobility. The two most common types of arthritis that affect the elbow are:
- Rheumatoid arthritis – A chronic and progressive autoimmune disease that causes the body’s immune system to attack the membrane that protects and lines a joint.
- Osteoarthritis – A condition that causes the cartilage cushioning and protecting the end of bones to breakdown, resulting in painful bone on bone rubbing.
Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
Nerves carry messages between the brain, spinal cord, and body parts. If a nerve gets compressed, it cannot function properly and can send incorrect messages to the brain. Cubital tunnel syndrome is caused by pressure on the ulnar nerve at the elbow. When the ulnar nerve (which extends from the neck to the fingers) becomes compressed, it can cause pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness of the arm, wrist, or hand. Overuse and repetitive bending movements can cause cubital tunnel syndrome.
Golfer’s, Pitcher’s, and Tennis Elbow
Golfer’s, pitcher’s, and tennis elbow all cause pain and inflammation in the elbow. They can limit the range of motion and cause weakness in the arm, hand, and elbow. They are most often caused by overusing the elbow through repetitive motions.
The elbow can be vulnerable to injuries during sports. Sports injuries can range from a sprain (a stretched or torn ligament) to a dislocation (where a bone gets moved out of place) or fracture (when a bone breaks). Sports injuries can cause pain, swelling, bruising around the elbow, and reduced mobility. A lot of sports injuries require immediate care from a doctor.
When To See A Specialist
You should seek advice from an orthopedic doctor if:
- Your elbow pain doesn’t improve, even with rest
- You experience pain even when not using your arm
- Swelling, pain, or redness becomes worse with time
- You have a reduced range of motion in your elbow or arm
- Normal, everyday activities like lifting or washing your hair are causing pain or difficulty
- You got injured (such as in a sports accident, fall, or vehicular accident) and are experiencing pain as a result
Elbow Pain Treatment in Palm Beach County, Florida
If you are experiencing elbow pain, contact South Palm Orthopedics. We use the latest surgical and non-surgical techniques to treat elbow, shoulder, and upper extremity problems.
For expert comprehensive care, call us today at (561) 496-6622 or request an appointment online using our interactive appointment request form. We are conveniently located in Palm Beach County, Florida, serving Delray Beach, Boynton Beach, Boca Raton, and the surrounding areas.