Elbow Problems, Noninjury
At one time or another, everyone has had an elbow problem that may have caused pain or swelling. Most of the time our body movements do not cause problems, but it's not surprising that symptoms develop from everyday wear and tear or overuse.
Elbow problems can be minor or serious and may include symptoms such as pain, swelling, numbness, tingling, weakness, or changes in temperature or color. Home treatment often can relieve minor aches and pains. To better understand elbow problems, you may want to review the Reference structure and function of the elbow Opens New Window. See a picture of the Reference elbow Opens New Window Reference Opens New Window.
Conditions that may cause elbow symptoms
- Reference Osteoarthritis Opens New Window may cause pain that is worse in the morning but improves during the day. Other types of arthritis, such as Reference rheumatoid arthritis Opens New Window, Reference gout Opens New Window, and Reference lupus Opens New Window, can also affect the elbow.
- A Reference pinched nerve can cause elbow pain with numbness and tingling.
- A Reference problem elsewhere in the body, such as a heart attack, can cause Reference referred pain Opens New Window in the elbow.
Overuse elbow problems
Most people may not remember having a specific injury when their symptoms get worse over time, but overuse problems are actual injuries. They occur when too much stress is placed on a joint or other tissue, often when you overdo an Reference activity or repeat an activity over and over. Overuse injuries include:
- Reference Bursitis Opens New Window. Swelling behind the elbow may be Reference olecranon bursitis (Popeye elbow).
- Tendinosis, which is a series of microtears in the
connective tissue in or around the tendon.
- Soreness or pain felt on the outside (lateral) part of the elbow may be Reference tennis elbow Opens New Window (lateral epicondylitis). This is the most common type of Reference tendinopathy Opens New Window that affects the elbow and most often is caused by overuse of the forearm muscles. This overuse may occur during sports, such as tennis, swimming, golf, and sports involving throwing; jobs, such as carpentry or plumbing; or daily activities, such as lifting objects or gardening.
- Soreness or pain in the inner (medial) part of the elbow may be Reference golfer's elbow Opens New Window. In children who participate in sports that involve throwing, the same elbow pain may be described as Reference Little Leaguer's elbow.
- Reference Ulnar nerve Opens New Window Reference Opens New Window compression, which is the pinching of the ulnar nerve in the elbow joint. This usually occurs with repeated motions.
Treatment for an elbow problem may include first aid measures; application of a brace, splint, or cast; Reference physical therapy Opens New Window; or medicine.
Reference Check your symptoms to decide if and when you should see a doctor.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference February 16, 2011|
|Medical Review:||Reference William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Reference H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine