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Elbow Pain


Elbow pain is a common occurrence when tendons in the region around the elbow joint are exposed to severe or repeated strain. These tissues may become overloaded, particularly where the tendon attaches to the elbow bone. While there is an overload, it is possible to have pain in the area of the elbow, which is most apparent when the wrist and hand are used.

The elbow is composed of 3 bones including the humerus (upper arm bone), the ulna (forearm bone), and the radius (wrist bone).

Each bone ends with cartilage, which enables it to move more freely and absorb shocks more efficiently. A network of strong connective tissues known as ligaments connects them. Ligaments hold them in place. Additionally, tendons serve as a connection between bones and muscles, enabling you to move your arm in a number of ways.

If any of these components, as well as the nerves and blood vessels that surround them, are damaged in any way, you may feel elbow joint pain.

Elbow discomfort may show itself in a number of ways. Some typical symptoms include fist discomfort (the condition known as golfer’s elbow) and pain when you open/close your fingers (i.e. tennis elbow). The discomfort of the afflicted elbow leads to a weak grip and anguish when attempting to hold anything, particularly if the arm is extended in front of the body.


Elbow pain is a common musculoskeletal complaint that can affect people of all ages. It often arises from overuse, trauma, sports injuries, or underlying medical conditions. The prevalence of elbow pain varies based on factors such as age, occupation, and activities.


Sharp elbow pain caused by elbow joint inflammation caused by overuse, acute injury or elbow or neck nerve compression. Elbow tennis or golf, elbow dislocation and elbow sprain can often lead to the feeling of burning in the elbow.

  • Epicondylitis: Epicondylitis, often known as golfer’s elbow, is a common cause of inner elbow pain among athletes. When acute tendonitis or tendinopathy affects the tendons in the inner elbow, the tendons become inflamed and uncomfortable because of the inflammation and discomfort leading to the inside elbow pain. In some individuals, pain in the wrists and forearm weakness are also potential signs and symptoms.


  • Tennis elbow: It refers to inflammation on the outside of the elbow. Tennis elbow pain is also known as lateral epicondylitis. Overuse or repetitive movement of the forearm muscles, which are located around the elbow joint, often causes forearm discomfort and pain in the upper right arm between elbow and shoulder. The outside elbow pain may also radiate down the back of your forearm in certain instances; thus, you may suffer elbow and forearm pain. If you fully extend your arm, you will feel outer elbow pain.Pain in elbow when straightening arm may also occur in this case.


  • Repeated movements: Repeated movements may lead to elbow pain when lifting. Elbow discomfort associated with lifting may be caused by a variety of factors, including accidents, illness, and injuries.Elbow pain when bending may also occur in some individuals. The most frequent cause of right elbow pain (ICD 10M25. 521) is inflammation of one or both of the two tendons that run down the inside of the elbow. Tendinitis is a condition that occurs when a joint is used repeatedly. Tenderness in the muscles above and below the elbow may occur because of repeated motions associated with daily labor, domestic activities, or injury.


  • Cell Phone Elbow (Cubital Tunnel Syndrome): Cell Phone Elbow, which is medically termed as Cubital Tunnel Syndrome, is a condition caused by prolonged or repetitive bending of the elbow, that is mostly associated with using a cell phone for extended periods. This compresses the ulnar nerve, leading to symptoms such as tingling, numbness, and pain in the inner elbow or forearm. Overuse of smartphones or improper arm positioning can contribute to this condition, making it one of the leading causes of elbow pain.


  • Medical conditions: Elbow pain may also occur as a sign of different medical conditions. Pinch-point neuropathy in the elbow may cause arm and hand discomfort, numbness, and tingling. Left elbow pain may be triggered by heart attack.


Elbow pain symptoms can vary in severity and presentation. Common symptoms include:

  1. Pain: Elbow pain can range from a mild, dull ache to a sharp, stabbing sensation.
  2. Tenderness: The affected area may be sensitive to touch or pressure.
  3. Reduced Range of Motion: Elbow pain can limit the ability to fully extend or flex the arm.
  4. Stiffness: Stiffness in the elbow joint, making it difficult to move the arm comfortably.
  5. Weakness: Weakness in the arm or grip strength may be experienced.
  6. Swelling: Swelling and inflammation around the elbow joint can be present in certain conditions.


Elbow pain diagnosis involves a systematic approach and may include the following steps:

  1. Medical History: The healthcare provider will inquire about the onset, duration, and characteristics of the pain, any recent injuries, activities, or medical conditions related to the elbow.
  2. Physical Examination: A physical examination may include assessing the range of motion, strength, and signs of swelling or tenderness in the elbow and surrounding areas. 
  3. Imaging: X-rays, MRI, or CT scans may be ordered to visualize the elbow joint and surrounding structures for any abnormalities or injuries.
  4. Electromyography (EMG): This test may be conducted to evaluate nerve function and identify any nerve-related issues causing the pain.
  5. Diagnostic Injections: In some cases, a local anesthetic or anti-inflammatory medication may be injected into the elbow joint to identify the source of pain and provide temporary relief.


The treatment of elbow pain is tailored to its underlying cause. Common approaches to alleviate elbow pain include rest and ice to reduce inflammation, particularly after activities exacerbating the pain. A structured physical therapy program is beneficial, aimed at enhancing elbow strength, flexibility, and mobility.

Over-the-counter NSAIDs can help manage pain and inflammation. Using a brace or splint can provide elbow support, restricting movements that exacerbate discomfort. In certain conditions, corticosteroid injections may be administered to reduce inflammation and pain. Surgical intervention may be necessary for severe cases like fractures, ligament tears, or chronic conditions unresponsive to conservative treatments.

Additionally, activity modification and lifestyle changes, including ergonomic improvements and avoiding repetitive or forceful movements, are essential in both treatment and prevention. Consulting a healthcare professional is crucial for an accurate diagnosis and a personalized treatment plan tailored to the specific cause and severity of elbow pain.

When To See A Doctor

Immediately see your doctor if you are experiencing elbow discomfort that does not go away with rest, or if the pain continues even when your arm is not being used to lift anything. Pain, swelling, or redness that worsens over time need to be addressed on an immediate basis. Elbow pain in certain cases may indicate the existence of a serious disease that requires urgent medical care and treatment.


This information is intended for educational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for professional medical advice. If you have concerns about elbow pain or any other medical condition, please see a doctor for an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment suggestions.