The elbow joint provides an essential link to the forearm, wrist, and hand, allowing the hand to be moved into position for activities of daily living. It allows us to flex, extend and rotate our forearm hundreds of times per day, but when those movements are painful, it can be particularly limiting to everyday life.
Elbow injury and pain present themselves in many ways: from burning, swelling, redness, and warmth to pain around the elbow or radiating down the forearm and wrist. You may also experience weak grip strength or weakness in your forearm, wrist, hand, or elbow.
There are multiple causes of elbow pain, including wear-and-tear or overuse, impact or trauma injuries, and disease that lead to joint damage.
Elbow pain caused by wear and tear includes bursitis, which is an inflammation of the fluid sac in the elbow, and tennis and golfer’s elbow, both of which are types of tendonitis. Despite the names, they aren’t limited to tennis players or golfers. Trapped nerves – similar to carpal tunnel syndrome and stress fractures – are other common overuse injuries.
The Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence’s doctors see many dislocated or fractured elbows, both of which can occur when someone puts their hand out to catch themselves in a fall, and various strains and sprains, caused by contact in sports or lifting heavy objects. Dislocations and fractures can be very painful, and most patients seek immediate treatment. If you’re feeling elbow pain but are unsure if it’s a sprain or a strain, know that when muscles get stretched or torn, it’s called a strain. When ligaments sustain the damage, it’s a sprain. In either case, the severity of the injury will determine your treatment plan and healing timeframe.
Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common type of arthritis in the elbow, where the immune system attacks the body’s healthy tissue and causes painful swelling in joints. Osteoarthritis is where elbow cartilage breaks down, causing bones to rub together. There are a variety of other diseases that can lead to elbow pain, including Lyme disease, gout, lupus, and others.
The first few days are critical in treating the source of elbow pain. While some elbow pain may go away naturally, self-care at home can help minimize the pain. RICE – rest, ice, compression, and bracing – are often quite effective for minor sprains, strains, and overuse injuries.
If elbow pain doesn’t disappear, it’s time to see an orthopedic specialist. The orthopedic physicians at CCOE have a wealth of experience in treating any and all issues that create elbow dysfunction or elbow pain.
Our specialists use advanced protocols and innovative techniques supported by the best research in diagnosis and treatment. They understand how pain can affect a patient’s whole life and are committed to returning them to sports, work, or activity as quickly as possible.
Physical therapy is often a vital component of any treatment plan. Doctors work closely with passionate, caring physical therapists who are experts in motion and use the latest technologies to help patients recover, protect against future injury and reach their individual health goals.
If pain persists, minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery can be highly effective. And reconstruction or other surgical solutions are recommended when an injury is severe or other treatment options have been exhausted.
No one should have to live with elbow pain. CCOE’s skilled team of highly-experienced physicians, surgeons, physical therapists, and others is dedicated to providing patients with individualized care. Our innovative treatment programs revolve around each patient’s specific needs, with the goal of delivering outcomes that improve quality of life. When it comes to elbow care, you can turn to us for personalized, compassionate care. Our offices are conveniently located across the Colorado Springs corridor, and it’s easy to make an appointment. Find the provider that fits your needs, and contact us today.
Common Arm & Elbow Injuries, Disorders, Syndromes & Treatments
Ulnar Collateral Ligament Reconstruction, more commonly known as Tommy John surgery, is the treatment for an overuse injury that strains the ligament on the inside