Updated: Aug 9
Elbow pain impacts millions of people and can occur at any age. There are a variety of reasons for elbow pain, ranging from irritation to the muscular tissues that connect to the joint, all the way up to a fracture or dislocation.
And it can be quite painful and debilitating for some people without seeking pain management NYC help. In addition, it is not just about the arms, as it can be a sore spot for many other body parts.
So, if you are reading this, you come to the right place because here, you'll learn how to find the underlying cause of your elbow pain, take care of it, and prevent it.
Understanding Your Elbow
The elbow is an important joint in the body as it connects the upper arm to the lower arm. It allows us to bend and straighten our arms, rotate them and lift objects.
The elbow joint is comprised of three bones:
Humerus: A long bone in your upper arm that fits into a groove on the ulna (one of two forearm bones).
Ulna: One of two forearm bones forms the outer part of your elbow joint. The end of your ulna forms an angle with your humerus called your ulnar notch.
Radial head: A rounded knob on top of your radius (the other forearm bone), which sticks out from the radial notch of your ulna when there's no pressure being placed on it.
The muscles around your elbow help keep your forearm stable when you lift something heavy or turn a doorknob with your hand. They also control how far your hand can reach forward or backward as you walk, run or climb stairs. The tendons that attach these muscles to your elbow allow them to pull on it when they contract during activity.
Our elbows are one of the most flexible joints in our body, but injuries to the elbow can be very painful and disabling.
Elbow pain is a common problem that a number of different factors can cause. Therefore, it's important to understand what exactly causes your elbow pain so you can determine the best course of pain treatment for your situation.
Common Causes of Elbow Pain
It's difficult to pinpoint exactly why some people experience elbow pain after playing tennis or golf. However, there are some common causes of elbow pain:
Overuse: Elbow pain can be caused by repetitive strain injury such as throwing or serving in tennis or golfing, which can lead to inflammation in the joint.
Repetitive stress injuries: Repetitive stress injuries occur when you use your arm in the same way over and over again without giving it time to rest. For example, if you're always reaching for something above shoulder height, this could cause inflammation because of too much pressure.
Trauma: Trauma occurs when you fall or bump into something and injure an area of your body, such as your elbow joint.
Tennis Elbow: The most common cause of elbow pain is tennis elbow or lateral epicondylitis. This condition develops when the tendons in the outside of your elbow become inflamed and damaged from repeated use over time. Tennis players most commonly develop this condition because their arms are extended at an angle during play and thus put repetitive stress on the elbow joint.
Diagnosing Elbow Pain
Elbow pain often results from a problem with the elbow joint itself. But it can also be caused by problems in other parts of your body, such as your shoulders or neck. In many cases, elbow pain is simply caused by overuse and can be treated with rest. But if you have chronic elbow pain that lasts more than three months, it may be time to see a pain specialist for an evaluation.
Here's what you should expect during an appointment with a pain specialist in order to diagnose the cause of your elbow pain accurately.
Ask you some questions about how the injury happened, what symptoms you're experiencing, and whether any other parts of your body hurt as well.
Ask whether you've injured this part of your body before or if you have any medical conditions such as arthritis or gout that could contribute to your symptoms.
Examine your joints, ligaments, and tendons for signs of tenderness, swelling, or bruising.
There are three main types of elbow injuries:
Elbow fractures: These can be partial or complete breaks of the bones in the elbow joint.
Elbow dislocations: This occurs when ligaments are stretched beyond their normal range of motion, causing the bones to slip out of place.
Elbow tendonitis: This is an inflammation of one or more tendons in your elbow. Tendons are cords of tissue that connect muscles to bones and allow you to move your joints.
Treatment Options for Elbow Pain
Elbow pain can be a result of many different conditions and injuries. It is one of the most commonly injured areas in the body, so it's important to seek treatment from a health professional who can help you determine the cause of your elbow pain.
Treatment options for elbow pain include:
Anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen (Advil) and naproxen sodium (Aleve) may help relieve elbow pain caused by arthritis or injury. However, these medications should not be taken long-term without consulting your doctor.
If you're using these medications for long periods of time, talk to your doctor about possible side effects like stomach upset or ulcers.
Injection therapy using corticosteroids may provide temporary relief from chronic elbow problems caused by arthritis or tendonitis. Corticosteroids are injected into the painful area around the elbow joint to reduce inflammation and swelling.
Physical therapy helps to reduce pain and improve movement in the joint. The goals of physical therapy are to strengthen the muscles around the elbow and forearm, improve joint flexibility and restore joint function.
Exercise can strengthen the muscles around the joint and reduce strain on the tendons and ligaments when they are painful or weak. Exercises also help improve flexibility in the muscles, tendons, and ligaments around the joint so they work better together.
Braces may be used to stabilize the joint while allowing it to move freely within a safe range of motion during activities such as golfing or tennis playing that put a strain on these areas of the elbow area of the forearm.
Treatment options depend on the cause of your elbow pain. If you're experiencing elbow pain, it's important to get an accurate diagnosis so that you can find the best treatment for your condition.
Preventing Future Problems with Your Elbow
When the muscles and ligaments in your elbow become injured, they can be extremely sensitive to pain or even cause numbness in your hand. As a result, simple tasks like writing or typing can suddenly become difficult and frustrating. Fortunately, there are many ways to ease these pains and protect against further injury.
Elbow pain can affect anyone at any time of year, but if you're an athlete or someone who works out on a regular basis, you're more likely to suffer from this type of chronic pain.
The first step in preventing elbow pain is limiting the amount of strain you put on the joint. The most common reasons your elbows might cause trouble are sports injuries and repetitive motions at work or play. If your job involves activities like punching computer keys or typing on a keyboard all day, it's especially important that you take frequent breaks from those movements and use ergonomic equipment for support.
The key is being proactive about preventing elbow pain: try not to put stress on your arms until after you warm up with some stretching exercises before playing a sport or doing a heavy workout. A physical therapist can help you design an exercise program.
It's also important to take care of your elbow joint as you age. As you get older, your bones and joints deteriorate, and it becomes more likely that you'll suffer from arthritis.
If you're facing an injury, take time off from activity, and consult a doctor about treatment options for your specific problem. And if you already have elbow pain, don't ignore it, especially if it lasts more than two weeks. Instead, see a pain management NYC specialist and work with them to determine the best course of treatment. An ounce of prevention may just be worth a pound of cure.