Everyone has had a minor elbow
injury. You may have bumped your "funny bone" at
the back of your elbow, causing shooting numbness and pain. The funny-bone
sensation can be intense, but it is not serious and will go away on its own.
Maybe your elbow has become sore after activity. Elbow injuries can be minor or
serious and may include symptoms such as pain, swelling, numbness, tingling,
weakness, or decreased range of motion. Home treatment often can help relieve
minor aches and pains.
Injuries are the most common cause of elbow
pain. Some people may not recall having had a specific injury, especially if
symptoms began gradually or during everyday activities.To better understand elbow injuries, you may want to review the structure and function of the elbow. See a picture of the elbow .
Elbow injuries occur most commonly
- Sports or recreational
- Work-related tasks.
- Work or projects around
Most elbow injuries in children occur during activities, such
as sports or play, or are the result of accidental falls. The risk for injury
is higher in contact sports such as wrestling, football, or soccer, or
high-speed sports such as biking, in-line skating, skiing, hockey, snowboarding, or
skateboarding. Elbows, forearms, wrists, hands, and fingers are the most
affected body areas. Any injury in a child or teen that occurs near a
joint may injure the growing end (growth plate) of long bones and needs to be
Older adults have a higher risk for injuries and
fractures because they lose muscle mass and bone strength (osteoporosis) as they age. They also have more
problems with vision and balance, which increase their risk for accidental
An acute injury may be caused
by a direct blow, penetrating injury, or fall or by twisting, jerking,
jamming, or bending an elbow abnormally. Pain may be sudden and severe.
Bruising and swelling may develop soon after the injury. Acute injuries
- Bruises from a tear or rupture of small
blood vessels under the skin.
- Injuries to
ligaments, the ropy fibers that connect bones to
bones around joints.
- Injuries to
tendons that connect muscles to
- Injuries to joints (sprains) that
stretch or tear the ligaments.
- Pulled muscles (strains) caused by overstretching
- Muscle tears or ruptures, such as your biceps or triceps
in your upper arm.
- Broken bones (fractures) of the
upper arm bone (humerus) or the forearm bones (ulna or radius) at the elbow
- Dislocations of the elbow joint (out of its normal
position). See a picture of a
dislocated elbow .