Pain in Elbow

Elbow pain can be caused by many different causes. This discomfort can be very mild to intense and generate an unpleasant discomfort in the elbow joint.

The anatomical region known as the elbow is formed by the elbow joint which is composed of the distal part of the humerus and the proximal ends of the ulna and the radius. The elbow joint allows the forearm to bend and stretch(hinged joint, allows flexion and extension movements). Apart from the named bones, the elbow is also constituted by cartilage, synovial fluid, ligaments, tendons and other joint structures.

The pains in the elbow appear mainly to realize a load of high or inadequate weight by injuries or by  tear of the joint. The pains in elbow appear suddenly (acute) and be transient or permanent (chronic). Pains in elbow can manifest depending on their cause as oppressive, straining or sharp pains. Pains in elbow are added very often a decrease in mobility or an inflammatory swelling that causes the elbow to be warm.


Elbow Pain Causes

Pains in elbow may be due to various causes. It is a part of the body that is subject to a high level of exigency as daily activities (to carry the weight of the purchases) and as in the sport activities (to practice tennis or golf).

If pressure is subjected very greatly, pains in elbow appear immediately. Pains in elbow can also be sustained after a long time of immobilization or because of a broken bone or a plaster.

There are some elbow pain causes at the following:

  • Joint inflammation (arthritis) of the elbow
  • Elbow joint (arthrosis) wear
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Tennis elbow (epicondylitis)
  • Golfer’s elbow (epitrocleitis)
  • Inflammation of the synovial pouch in the elbow joint (oleocranial bursitis)
  • Inflammation of the tendon sheath (tendosynovitis)
  • Inflammation of the nerve of the elbow (ulnar nerve)
  • Dislocations
  • Injuries to the tendons or ligaments of the elbow, for example sprains (strains or ligament tears)
  • Muscle tensions and injuries in the elbow area
  • Repeat strain injury after performing the same activity for years; For example, one of them is known today like “mouse elbow” by the continuous use of the computer and the Mouse
  • Ganglion
  • Bone fracture
  • Osteoporosis
  • Cartilage fragments or loose intra-articular bones (“joint mice”)
  • Volkmann contracture (muscle stiffness due to lack of blood supply)
  • Neurological diseases with nerve damage and blood-borne disorders
  • Diseases of the skin in the elbow with involvement of the joint (such as psoriasis)

Elbow Pain Diagnosis

It is very important to make a correct diagnosis of elbow pain. The most common is hat the pain in elbow disappears by itself soon after. If  pains in elbow persist or  if there is an inflammatory swelling with heat in the joint, it should be consulted to doctor.

The first step is to perform a complete anamnesis. The doctor will first ask you some questions to determine the disease and preexisting diseases. You will also show to doctor where it hurts exactly. If you have made efforts with your elbow like playing tennis or work a lot with the computer mouse, these activities can be the source of your pain in elbow. If you have osteoarthritis or have had an accident before, your doctor will recommend some deep tests.

Your doctor will check for joint inflammation, loss of synovial fluid, limitation of mobility and will perform various tests of movement your elbow.

In addition, you can ask for more tests on suspicion of certain causes of pains in your elbow. In the case of a rupture of the bone, an x-ray will be necessary. Other tests that could be performed in the case of elbow pain would be:

  • Blood tests (looking for possible inflammatory or autoimmune causes)
  • Ultrasound
  • Arthroscopy (endoscopy of the joint)
  • Joint puncture in case of joint effusion
  • Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR)

Elbow Pain Treatment

The treatment of elbow pain will address the causes that have caused the pain in elbow. Acute elbow pain is caused shortly after picking up a heavy or inadequate load. This kind of pain in elbow disappears by itself. In certain circumstances, pains in elbow can be due to ‘’tennis elbow’’. In tennis elbow condition, it is necessary to apply an immobilizer bandage or plaster cast and keep the arm and elbow joint immobilized.

Elbow pain is treated symptomatically with anti-inflammatories (such as ibuprofen or diclofenac), available mainly in the form of pills or ointments. Joint injections and washes may also be given with medications that contain corticosteroids or local anesthetics to relieve pain in elbow.

In the case of chronic elbow pain, it is required hospitalization and may become necessary to perform a blockage of the gill plexus with a catheter. To do this, a thin plastic sleeve (catheter) will be inserted into the tissue near the armpit that reaches the nerves of the arm.

If conservative (non-surgical) treatment is not effective, surgical intervention may be necessary as a solution to elbow pain. Many causes of elbow pain can now be eliminated with endoscopy of the joint (arthroscopy). In addition, in the case of osteoarthritis, an osteotomy (separation of bones or bone fragment) may be performed. If the lesions were very serious or the joint was severely damaged and could not be cured in any other way, then doctor will implant an artificial joint.

The right remedy whether it is temporary rest, gymnastics, application of heat or cold depends on the cause of the pain in elbow and should be consulted prior to the doctor.

Among the therapies that can be applied in case of elbow pain are:

  • Physiotherapy
  • Cold or heat treatments
  • Muscle training (strengthening and stretching)
  • Sports that favor movement of joints, such as swimming
  • Acuatherapy and balneotherapy
  • Electrotherapy and ultrasound treatment
  • Shockwave therapy
  • Orthopedic remedies (such as the epicondylleus)

You can also try injections with botulinum toxin, a neurotoxin that is also used in cosmetic medicine to temporarily eliminate wrinkles. In front of a pain of the elbow it is important to relax the tensed and contracted muscles.

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