9 Common Injuries That Cause Elbow Pain

elbow pain

Burning elbow pain may very well be one of the most annoying things that someone—especially a person with an active lifestyle—will ever have to experience. In many ways, it is debilitating and can make even the most mundane tasks seem almost unbearable.

If you have severe elbow pain and you’re here wondering what some potential causes are and their solutions, then you have come to the right place. Here, we will tell you everything you need to know about elbow injuries, their causes, effects, and what you can do about them.

Read on to learn more.

How Can I Know if My Elbow Pain Is Serious?

Like any other medical condition, there are certain indicators that you can use to determine if the pain in your elbow requires immediate medical attention, or if it can be solved by simple home remedies. For example, if there is an obvious deformity in your elbow or a bone is protruding from its proper place, you should contact medical professionals right away.

However, if the injury is just a scratch or a few cuts on the outside of the skin, it could be solved by disinfecting the area, applying a bandage, then keeping it away from potential aggravation.

What Are the Different Kinds of Elbow Pain?

If you accidentally dislocate your elbow, you are going to experience significantly more pain than if you had scraped it on the ground falling off your skateboard. For this reason, if you want to know the proper remedy for your pain, you need to be aware of the different kinds of elbow pain.

Below, we have provided a short list of two different types of pain you might experience in your elbow.

1. Stinging External Pain

If you’re experiencing a stinging sensation that feels like it might be on the outside of your elbow, it probably is. Stinging pain that’s often described as “searing pain” can be the result of a scrape, cut, or another kind of damage to the skin.

While it’s not a cause for serious concern, you should have a doctor check it out if the pain persists for a long time and gets worse when you move your elbow.

2. Aching Pain

This kind of elbow pain causes one to reconsider toning down an otherwise active lifestyle because the pain can be that debilitating. Furthermore, unlike the previously mentioned type of elbow pain, aching pain is caused from inside the elbow—which can cause one to become frustrated that they cannot see what’s going on.

Some causes for aching elbow pain that we discuss later are golfer’s elbow and tennis elbow.

Now that you are aware of two common types of pain in the elbow, we can move on to discuss nine common injuries/conditions that result in elbow pain. Read on further to discover what these are and whether or not you should see a doctor.

1. Broken Arm

In the United States, approximately 6.8 million Americans break a bone every year. Of these bones, a good number of them are either the left or right arm.

Because the elbow divides both the upper arm and the forearm, injuring one can have an effect on both the other and the elbow. So, if you have severe pain in your elbow that you suspect is due to a broken arm, you should see a doctor right away so that the bone does not heal out of place.

Sometimes, your arm can break by falling on either your wrist or your elbow because these joints are—as mentioned—connected to your arms. So if you’re experiencing severe pain in your elbow and arm, get your arm checked out by a medical professional.

2. Dislocated Elbow Joint

Your elbow can become dislocated for a myriad of reasons. The most common reason for this is from falling. If you fall too hard and land on your outstretched hand, your arm can pop out of alignment with your elbow—resulting in severe pain and discomfort.

Unlike some of the other conditions on this list, a dislocated elbow joint is by far the easiest to recognize because the problem is quite visible. If your elbow is dislocated, seek medical attention right away.

Some other reasons for a dislocated elbow are car accidents, bike crashes, or any event where you have a high chance of falling to the ground hard and fast in such a way that puts your elbow at risk.

3. Golfer’s Elbow

While golfer’s elbow pain is centered around the area where the tendons in the arm connect to the bone in the elbow, it can spread to both the forearm and the wrist. Fortunately, though the pain might seem unbearable, it is a very common condition that usually doesn’t last too long.

Golfer’s elbow occurs when someone overuses their elbow joints—which is why it’s named after a sport. However, it’s not limited to golfers. Virtually anyone who leads a moderately active lifestyle can develop golfer’s elbow.

The symptoms of golfer’s elbow are the following:

  • Pain and tenderness on the inside of the elbow
  • Elbow stiffness
  • Wrist and hand weakness
  • Finger numbness and/or tingling

Thankfully, golfer’s elbow is common enough to diagnose and treat with relative ease.

4. Tennis Elbow

The official, medical name of tennis elbow is Lateral Epicondylitis. Similar to golfer’s elbow, tennis elbow occurs when an action involving the repetitive motion of the forearm muscles is performed extensively. The muscles then become sore from excessive strain.

Medical professionals typically diagnose tennis elbow by conducting an exam (like an X-ray or MRI scan) and asking the patient questions about their signs and symptoms. From this information, they then come to an accurate conclusion.

So, what are the symptoms of tennis elbow? We have provided a list of the most common ones below:

  • Aching pain along the forearm and outside of the elbow
  • Burning sensation
  • Pain that may occasionally spread to the wrist

While it may be difficult for us to distinguish between golfer’s elbow and tennis elbow, healthcare providers can do it very well.

5. Tendonitis

Tendonitis is a condition that can occur almost anywhere in the human body where a joint is located. This includes, but is not limited to, knees, forearms, wrists, and elbows.

Oftentimes, the root cause of tendonitis is not known because each case is different and unique. While it can be attributed to overuse and strain of the joint, diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, and infection can all play a part in the development of tendonitis.

One method that medical professionals use to test someone for tendonitis is a procedure known as joint aspiration. Essentially, the healthcare provider inserts a needle into the patient’s joint and extracts a small amount of fluid—which is then tested in a lab for infectious organisms. X-rays are also quite common in testing for tendonitis.

The symptoms of tendonitis are aching, orthopedic pain, swelling and inflammation, and a grating feeling when the joint is moved.

6. Arthritis

If you think arthritis happens only to the elderly, you are wrong. Arthritis is a disease that has been medically proven to affect people of every age range. For this reason, you should still treat it as a potential cause of your elbow pain.

While it does mainly happen to the elderly population, anyone is susceptible to some kind of arthritis—especially in the elbow.

A very common trend that you may begin to notice is how most—if not all—of the causes of these elbow conditions can be attributed to some kind of overuse and joint strain. If you still didn’t get the memo, it means that you should be very careful about how you balance self-care and an active lifestyle.

The symptoms of arthritis are similar to those of tendonitis. They include pain, stiffness, swelling, and a decreased range of motion in the elbow.

7. Trapped Nerves

This condition is quite interesting in that it requires no injury to develop. In fact, one could experience a very painful trapped (or pinched) nerve in the elbow by simply resting their head in their hand while seated for long periods.

This happens because when one leans on their elbow for too long, fluid is built up inside the elbow. This has the effect of putting pressure on all the surrounding elbow mechanisms—which can result in a pinched nerve.

So, what are some symptoms of a trapped nerve? While you don’t necessarily need a doctor to help you identify if resting your head on your elbow for too long was the cause of the pain, you should still be aware of some symptoms.

These are numbness in the elbow and forearm area, and weakness in your hand. For example, you might not be able to grip things as firmly as you used to be able to do without a pinched nerve because the signals cannot travel quickly and all the way through the arm.

8. Osteoarthritis

Don’t be thrown off guard by the name—osteoarthritis is simply one form of arthritis. Essentially, it’s a condition where the cartilage that caps the joints’ bones wears away slowly over time. As you can imagine, it’s quite painful.

However, the good news is that it’s also a very common condition—meaning that medical professionals have developed methods of dealing with it. Nevertheless, the damage that osteoarthritis causes to the joints cannot be repaired, so it does have the potential to permanently injure its victims.

The symptoms of osteoarthritis are aching pain, flexibility reduction, bone spurs, and swelling. If you experience these symptoms at the same time, it would be a good idea to pay your doctor a visit.

9. Bursitis

The last potential cause of your elbow pain on this list is a nasty disease called bursitis. Bursitis is a condition that involves the inflammation of the bursae—which are sacs filled with fluid that act as cushions between joints to keep the friction at a minimum.

When the bursae become inflamed, the joints no longer slide across each other with ease. This results in sometimes debilitating pain experienced by the patient.

So, when should you see a doctor? If your joint pain is so bad that you cannot perform basic household functions and you cannot move the joint, call a medical professional immediately.

What Are Some at-Home Remedies for This Pain?

Because most of the conditions/injuries discussed in this article have somewhat similar symptoms, the at-home remedies for the pain are also the same.

The first of the elbow pain solutions that you can do right now from home is one that practically all doctors recommend—rest. When you rest, you give your body time to heal. Additionally, you would reduce the amount of action that the joint performs throughout the day.

You could also use ice packs. Cold temperatures have been medically proven to reduce swelling. When you apply the ice pack, make sure that you put light pressure on the joint, but not so much that it hurts worse.

Finally, try some over-the-counter pain medications. These will allow you to still have the ability to work and live a life free of pain.

Get Your Elbow Examined Today

Well, there you have it. We have given you nine potential causes for your elbow pain. All that’s left for you to do is to take action.

Schedule your appointment with us here at The Hand Surgery Specialists of Texas today and get ready to have your elbow pain diagnosed and treated by professionals. What are you waiting for? You won’t be disappointed!

For more helpful information, check out our other blog posts as well.

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The Hand Surgery Specialists of Texas offers diagnosis and treatment for hand, wrist, and elbow problems in Houston, using the most advanced and minimally invasive medical techniques. Our orthopedic hand specialists and hand and finger surgeons are waiting to provide you with excellent care at one of our hand care centers in River Oaks, Webster, North Houston, Katy/Sugarland, or Baytown

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