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Elbow pain

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The elbow is the middle portion of the arm where three long bones meet together. It’s a joint. Humerus or the bone of the upper arm, ulna or the inner bone of the forearm and radius or the outer bone of the forearm meets at the elbow as a hinge joint.


The elbow is necessary for rotation of the forearm. It helps the arm to move like a hinge- forward and backward. You can twist your arm outward and inward because of the presence of the elbow. The elbow hinge is flexed with the help of the biceps muscle. Extending the elbow hinge is possible with the help of the triceps muscle.

The inner side of the elbow is known as the medial epicondyle. It’s a bony prominence. Extra tendons from the muscles get attached to this portion. These tendons may be injured, which will cause the golfer’s elbow or medial epicondylitis. There is a fluid filled sac known as bursa present on the tip of the elbow. The main function of this sac is to reduce friction. Inflammation of the tendons or the bursae may happen, causing different types of medical conditions.

What conditions can cause elbow injury and elbow pain?

There are different causes of elbow pain. In the case of exercise enthusiasts, athletes and hard gainers, most of the elbow pain happen due to overuse injuries. Repetitive hand, wrist or arm movements can cause such injuries. Arthritis may also cause elbow pain but in general, wear and tear damage cannot create problems for the elbow like other joints.

The most common causes of elbow pain are-

  • Broken arm
  • Golfer’s elbow
  • Throwing injuries
  • Cubital tunnel syndrome, which occurs when the ulnar nerve on the inside of your elbow is irritated or injured
  • Bursitis
  • Dislocated elbow
  • Elbow fracture
  • Ligament sprains and tears
  • Little league elbow syndrome (pitcher’s elbow). This is an injury seen in the case of children and rapidly growing adolescents. It is generally associated with throwing sports such as baseball
  • Olecranon bursitis, which means inflammation of a small sac of fluid present on the tip of the elbow
  • Stress fractures
  • Tennis elbow
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Dislocation
  • Osteochondritis dissecans
  • Radial tunnel syndrome. It’s a problem of the radial nerve, which is compressed just beyond the elbow
  • Sprains and strains
  • Tendinitis
  • Trapped nerves

When you should see a doctor?

If you’re having any deformity in your elbow or a protruding bone is present in the elbow, you should immediately seek emergency care. You should consult your doctor if you are in severe pain, there are bruising and swelling around the joint, you are having trouble in moving your elbow normally, not finding it difficult to turn your arm or use your arm.

You should visit your doctor if you are suffering from elbow pain that has an improved even after several days of home treatment, you’re having pain, even when you don’t use the arm or you see a swelling or pain or increasing redness of the area.


Self-care for elbow pain includes rest, use of ice, compression and elevation. You should rest your injured hand. You can an ice pack on the area affected. Keep the ice pack for 15 to 20 minutes three times a day. You can also use a compression bandage to reduce the swelling if any.


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