The elbow is a complex joint used to push, pull and to rotate the forearm. Elbow pain is commonly caused by injury or strain to the muscles, the bones or the tendons of the elbow. Although elbow pain normally isn’t serious, it can affect a patient’s life since the elbows are often used in normal daily activities.
Elbow pain is commonly caused by the following:
• Golfer’s Elbow or Medial Epicondylitis – elbow pain caused by this condition is due to the inflammation on the inner part of the elbow. This is the part where the tendons of the forearm muscles are attached to the bone on the side of the elbow. Pain can easily spread to the forearm and wrist.
• Tennis Elbow or Lateral Epicondylitis – elbow pain can be felt when the tendons are overworked by the repetitive movements of the wrist and arm. Although this condition is common to movements associated with poor backhand stroke in tennis, this can also be caused by motions associated with painting, excessive use of the computer mouse and driving screws.
• Olecranon Bursitis – causes elbow pain when the sac of fluid on the tip of the elbow is inflamed. This is due to overuse and repetitive movements around that particular joint. Symptoms of this condition are pain during movement or when pressure is applied, the joint region swells and stiffness and aching joint.
• Biceps Tendonitis – elbow pain associated with this condition is at the front of the elbow joint. When the biceps are overworked and stressed, the tendon connected to it gets irritated and becomes painful.
• Dislocation – this condition is caused when the elbow bones are displaced from their normal alignment. Once the elbow is dislocated, immediate loss of movement and elbow pain can be felt. To diagnose this condition accurately, an x-ray needs to be performed.
• Radial tunnel syndrome – can cause elbow pain once the radial nerve gets inflamed or irritated. This problem is caused by fractures or injury to the forearm, bone tumors and inflammation of the surrounding tissue.
Any medical conditions of the elbow can lead to elbow pain. Treatment would depend mostly on the cause and the tendons or joints affected. Physical therapy comes in when the patient needs rehabilitation to restore the full function of the elbow. Physical therapy treatment can include modalities like heat pads and ice packs, and stretching and strengthening exercises.