Elbow Joint Pain

Your elbows are a common place of injury as the bone in the joint is prone to knocks and bangs. Injuries of the elbow can come particularly sharp as the bone is very close to the surface of the skin – hence the term ‘funny bone’ being used to describe the elbow joint. The most common injury of the elbow is tennis elbow, so called because the injury most commonly occurs whilst an individual is playing tennis. Tennis elbow is characterized by inflammation of the tendons and tenderness around the elbow itself.

What Are Some Common Causes of Elbow Joint Pain?

Pain in the elbow joints can be caused by a number of injuries and illnesses and some of those causes are outlined below.

Tennis Elbow – tennis elbow is the general term for injuries caused by repetitive motions of the forearm, such as using a manual screwdriver, washing windows or playing tennis. Typically, there is inflammation of the tendons around the elbow, pain around the elbow and tenderness when the skin on or around the elbow is touched. Repeated twisting motions can cause more pain and pain tends to be worse at the end of the day. Tennis elbow can be treated with rest, ice packs to reduce inflammation and anti-inflammatory medication to reduce swelling and tenderness. Cortisone injections may be used if pain is persistent.

Olecranon Bursitis – olecranon bursitis is the medical term for inflammation of the bursa at the tip of the elbow, and it can be caused by injury or minor trauma. It can also be the result of a systematic disease such as gout, arthritis or infection. Olecranon bursitis is characterized by swelling over the tip of the elbow but you’ll still be able to move your arm.

Fracture – fractures of the elbow are relatively common, especially in children and older people. They are characterized by sharp pain in the elbow as well as loss of motion and inability to move the arm. Fractures are diagnosed easily with an x-ray.

Arthritis – pain within the elbow joint can be caused by a number of systematic arthritic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, gouty arthritis and reactive arthritis. Generally, arthritic pain in the elbow will be characterized by inflammation of the elbow joint including warm skin to the touch, swelling, pain, tenderness and decreased range of motion.

Cellulitis – this is an infection of the skin that can affect the area around the elbow. It’s characterized by inflammation of the skin which commonly occurs as a result of abrasions or cuts on the skin. Symptoms include redness, warmth, swelling and a low-grade fever. It can be treated relatively easily with a series of antibiotics.

Infected Elbow Joint – infection of the elbow joint is uncommon and it occurs more in individuals taking immunosuppressant drugs or those who have suppressed immune systems, such as individuals suffering with cancer or AIDs. Diabetes patients could also suffer with this. The infection can be treated with antibiotics and surgical drainage and symptoms include fever, sweats, chills, redness and warmth.

Treatment for a Painful Elbow Joint

Treatment will really depend on what has caused the pain in the first place. If it is injury, the joint should be treated with rest and with ice packs and with anti-inflammatory pain medication if the pain gets particularly bad. Using the joint will only worsen the problem, so you should rest it or strap it up if needs be and treat localized pain with ice packs. If you have any other symptoms, such as fever or nausea, the elbow could be infected so you should see your doctor for a course of antibiotics. Speak to them if you have any worries or concerns.