Three Reasons Your Elbow Might Hurt
Three Reasons Your Elbow Might Hurt
Your elbow is a complex joint where three bones come together – your upper arm bone (called the humerus), the ulna, and the radius, the two bones that make up your forearm.
At the joint where these bones come together, cartilage helps them slide against each other and absorb shocks. Ligaments hold the bones in place, and tendons connect your bones to muscles to allow you to move your arm in different ways.
As you might imagine, If anything happens to any of these parts – or the nerves and blood vessels around them – you may experience pain, discomfort, lack of mobility or all three.
Problems impacting the elbow typically stem from one of three key reasons: injury, disease or ordinary wear and tear. We’ll start with the most common:
Wear and Tear
Any repetitive motion can cause wear and tear injuries. They can range from hours of batting practice to raking the yard. Anything that requires you to repeat the same motion over a period of hours, days or weeks can cause one of these possible wear-and-tear injuries:
● Bursitis – Swelling of the bursa, small sacs of fluid in your joints that help cushion your bones, tendons, and muscles.
● Tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow – Types of tendinopathy or tendinosis, which is damage in the tendons around your elbow from overuse.
● Trapped nerves – Similar to carpal tunnel syndrome, trapped nerves in your elbow can cause burning or numbness in your hand, arm, and fingers.
● Stress fractures – A small crack or cracks in your arm bones caused by overuse.
Because we have a natural tendency to use our arms to brace ourselves, elbow injuries often result from falls or stumbles. For example:
● Dislocated elbow – Knocking one of the bones out of place within the elbow joint is one of the more common injuries when you put your hand out to catch yourself during a fall.
● Fractured elbow – An arm bone break at the elbow, often caused by a sudden blow you might get in a contact sport or a car accident.
● Strains and sprains: Most frequently caused by overexertion.
There are several diseases that impact bones and joints that can take a toll on the elbow.
● Arthritis – The most common type of arthritis in the elbow is rheumatoid arthritis, which causes swelling in your joints. Osteoarthritis occurs when elbow cartilage breaks down over time, allowing bones to rub together and cause pain and stiffness.
● Gout – Actually a type of arthritis, gout allows uric acid to build up as crystals in your tissues, causing extreme pain.
● Lupus – This illness allows your immune system to attack healthy parts of your body, including your joints and organs.
● Lyme disease – Carried by ticks, Lyme disease can cause issues with your nervous system and pain in your joints, including your elbow.
See a Joint Specialist
If you’re experiencing joint pain in your elbow – whether new or ongoing – be sure to see a specialist as soon as possible. Early treatment can minimize possible damage and simplify your treatment.
Dr. Justin Hallock, MD, FAAOS, part of the team at DOC Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, is board certified in orthopaedic surgery and fellowship trained in orthopaedic surgery specializing in sports medicine, including open and arthroscopic treatment of the elbow, along with shoulder, hip, and knee. He also has expertise in total joint replacement, complex fracture management, and hand surgery. He provides both non-surgical and surgical care of all orthopaedic ailments. His extensive training and personalized approach to patient care results in thorough treatment and quick recovery to restore your quality of life.
Since 1972, the specialists at DOC Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine have been committed to providing exceptional orthopaedic care through innovative techniques, quality services, patient communication, and education. With specialties ranging from general orthopaedics and physical therapy to sports medicine, joint replacement and more, the doctors at DOC Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine can provide local expert guidance to avoid injury, as well as any necessary care for any orthopaedic disorder or injury to help put your life back in motion.