Overuse injuries occur when too much stress is placed on a joint or other tissue, often by overdoing an activity or through repetition of an activity. Overuse injuries include:
- Bursitis. Swelling behind the elbow may be olecranon bursitis (Popeye elbow).
- Tendinosis, which is a series of microtears in the connective tissue in or around the tendon.
- Soreness or pain felt on the outside (lateral) part of the elbow may be tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis). This is the most common type of tendinopathy that affects the elbow and most often is caused by overuse of the forearm muscles. This overuse may occur during sports, such as tennis, swimming, golf, and sports involving throwing; jobs, such as carpentry or plumbing; or daily activities, such as lifting objects or gardening.
- Soreness or pain in the inner (medial) part of the elbow may be golfer's elbow. In children who participate in sports that involve throwing, the same elbow pain may be described as Little Leaguer's elbow.
- Pinched nerves, such as ulnar nerve compression, which is the pinching of the ulnar nerve near the elbow joint. This usually occurs with repeated motions.
An infection of the elbow may cause pain, redness, swelling, warmth, fever, chills, pus, or swollen lymph nodes in the armpit on that side of your body. "Shooter's abscess" is an infection commonly seen in people who inject illegal drugs into the veins of their arms.
Elbow injuries such as bruises, burns, fractures, cuts, or punctures may be caused by abuse. Suspect possible abuse when an injury cannot be explained or does not match the explanation, repeated injuries occur, or the explanations for the cause of the injury change.
Treatment for an elbow injury may include first aid measures; application of a brace, splint, or cast; physical therapy; medicines; and in some cases, surgery. Treatment depends on:
- The location, type, and severity of the injury.
- How long ago the injury occurred.
- Your age, health condition, and activities, such as work, sports, or hobbies.
Check your symptoms to decide if and when you should see a doctor.