What is Elbow Pain?
Our elbows are one point in our arm that lets us do multiple things. We can hold, throw, lift etc. They are the joint where three bones come together. We may not realise it, but without our elbows, we can practically do nothing with our arms.
Elbow pain is one condition that is not necessarily caused by an underlying disease or major injury. In addition to obvious causes like dislocations, fractures, sprains and strains, elbow pain can be caused by trapped nerves, pressure or leaning on elbows, trying new exercises, or even mundane tasks like desk work. As people age, conditions like bursitis and osteoarthritis can certainly contribute to elbow pain.
Types of Elbow Pain
Bursitis refers to an inflammation of the fluid-filled pads (bursae) that act as cushions at the joint. Symptoms include pain on movement and joint pain. Osteoarthritis is a form of arthritis that occurs when flexible tissue at the ends of bones wears down. Symptoms are similar to bursitis, but often include stiffness.
“Golfer’s Elbow” and “Tennis Elbow” are common conditions, experienced by athletes and sportspeople. In the case of Golfer’s Elbow, one generally experiences pain or stiffness on the inner side of the elbow (and sometimes wrist pain). Tennis Elbow refers to an irritation of the tissue connecting the forearm muscle to the elbow. Symptoms include elbow pain, fatigue and muscle weakness.
If pain persists over time, pain killers are not a viable, long-term solution and you will need attention from a trained elbow pain doctor. Premier Pain Institute treatments such as targeted injections with stem cells and other minimally invasive procedures have tremendous success in treating elbow pain.
Injuries: Things like dislocated or fractured elbows can cause further injuries in the future as the elbow is already weak. Even people who have experienced strains or sprains are likely to get their muscles stretched and torn more easily. Putting too much pressure on your elbows or lifting heavy objects can always trigger such injuries
Diseases: People who suffer from certain diseases like osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and gout are more prone to joint-related pains than others. Rheumatoid arthritis is one of the most common causes of elbow pain as it attacks the body’s tissues and causes swelling in the joints. Osteoarthritis on the other hand can make the cartilage in the elbow break down over time and cause pain and stiffness. Gout is a more complex form of arthritis and happens due to the accumulation of urate crystals in the joints.
Overuse/ Wear and Tear: Disorders like Bursitis, tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow mainly happen due to overuse. Bursitis happens when you repeat the same motion again and again which causes friction in the joints and causes the sacs in them to develop a fluid. Tennis and golfer’s elbow isn’t restricted to the names and can happen in any sport that requires extensive arm movement.
The elbow pain doctor will first conduct a physical examination of the area and look at your medical history to find likely causes. In certain cases, they can ask for X-rays, CT scans and even MRI scans. If a patient is suffering from bursitis they will perform a biopsy of the bursa fluid.
Depending on how serious the injury or the pain is, the treatment will vary.
For less severe injuries, you can treat the pain at home with a few simple remedies. However, if the pain becomes unbearable, and is restricting your movement in day to day activities, it’s best to see an elbow pain doctor.
- Place an ice pack on the affected area for around 15-20 minutes at least two to three times a day.
- Try to restrict any movement of the arm with the injured elbow, and make sure you rest your elbow for a few days.
- If you’re suffering from a tennis elbow, then stopping the activity that caused the pain for a few days is the most important thing to do.
- Exercises and stretches may help you recover and strengthen the muscles around the area. Be sure to be gentle during the exercises and avoid overdoing any stretches.
- There are a few over-the-counter medicines you can take to get rid of the pain and inflammation temporarily.
When To See A Doctor?
If you’ve tried the above treatments and the pain still doesn’t go away, you will need to see an elbow pain doctor. Other symptoms that are a cause for concern are intense pain, redness, swelling and fever.
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