At one time or another, everyone has had an elbow problem that may
have caused pain or swelling. Most of the time our body movements do not cause
problems, but it's not surprising that symptoms develop from everyday wear and
tear or overuse.
Elbow problems can be minor or serious and may
include symptoms such as pain, swelling, numbness, tingling, weakness, or
changes in temperature or color. Home treatment often can relieve minor aches
and pains. To better understand elbow problems, you may want to review the
structure and function of the elbow. See a picture of the
Most people may not remember
having a specific injury when their symptoms get worse over time, but overuse
problems are actual injuries. They occur when too much stress is placed on a
joint or other tissue, often when you overdo an
activity or repeat an activity over and over. Overuse
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
- Soreness or pain in the inner (medial) part of the elbow
golfer's elbow. In children who participate in sports
that involve throwing, the same elbow pain may be described as
Little Leaguer's elbow.
- Ulnar nerve compression, which is the
pinching of the ulnar nerve in the elbow joint. This usually occurs with
Treatment for an elbow problem may include first aid
measures; application of a brace, splint, or cast;
physical therapy; or medicine.
Check your symptoms to decide if and when you should see a