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Elbow Joint Pain Treatment, Causes & Diagnosis

Elbow pain facts

Elbow pain may have a number of causes.

Elbow pain may have a number of causes.

  • The elbow joint is the area of union of three long bones.
  • Tendinitis can affect the inner or outer elbow.
  • Treatment of tendinitis includes ice, rest, and medication for inflammation.
  • Bacteria can infect the skin of the scraped (abraded) elbow.
  • The "funny bone" nerve can be irritated at the elbow to cause numbness and tingling of the little and ring fingers.

What is the design of the elbow, and what is its function?

The elbow is the joint where three long bones meet in the middle portion of the arm. The bone of the upper arm (humerus) meets the inner bone of the forearm (ulna) and the outer bone of the forearm (radius) to form a hinge joint. The radius and ulna also meet in the elbow to allow for rotation of the forearm. The elbow functions to move the arm like a hinge (forward and backward) and in rotation (twisting outward and inward). The biceps muscle is the major muscle that flexes the elbow hinge. The triceps muscle is the major muscle that extends the elbow hinge. The outer bone of the elbow is referred to as the lateral epicondyle and is a part of the humerus bone. Tendons are attached to this area which can be injured, causing inflammation or tendinitis (lateral epicondylitis, or "tennis elbow"). The inner portion of the elbow is a bony prominence called the medial epicondyle. Additional tendons from the muscles attach here and can be injured, causing medial epicondylitis, "golfer's elbow." A fluid-filled sac (bursa), which serves to reduce friction, overlies the tip of the elbow (olecranon bursa). The elbow can be affected by inflammation of the tendons or the bursae (plural for bursa) or conditions that affect the bones and joints, such as fractures, arthritis, or nerve irritation. Joint pain in the elbow can result from injury or disease involving any of these structures.

Normal Elbow Illustration - Elbow Pain

What Is Tennis Elbow?

Tennis
elbow is a condition that produces severe, burning
pain over the bone at the side of the elbow. The medical term for tennis elbow
is lateral epicondylitis. The pain results from inflammation of the tendonthat attaches
muscleto the bony projection (called the epicondyle) on the outside of the
elbow.

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    How do health care professionals diagnose elbow pain?

    Elbow pain is most commonly diagnosed simply with a review of the history and physical examination. Most causes of elbow pain require no further testing. As described above, for some diseases, further testing can include X-ray examination, MRI scanning, arthrogram testing, and aspiration of fluid from the involved elbow area.

    What are treatments for elbow pain?

    The treatment for elbow pain depends on the precise cause of the pain. Treatments for simple inflammation can include immobilization, anti-inflammatory medications, and cold application. Treatments for fracture include casting and surgical repair. Treatments for infection include drainage and antibiotics.

    What is the prognosis of elbow pain?

    The outlook for elbow pain depends on the particular cause as described above.

    Is it possible to prevent elbow pain?

    To the extent that injuries can be avoided, most causes of elbow pain can be prevented.

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