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When should you call your doctor if you think you have elbow arthritis?

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Tell your doctor if you feel pain, stiffness, or swelling in your elbow, or if the joint feels tender or warm and the symptoms last more than 3 days. You should also call if you lose range of motion or have trouble moving the joint, can no longer do your favorite activities, or get symptoms more than once within a month.

The doctor will ask you about your medical history; do a physical exam to look for signs of swelling, redness, and tenderness around the elbow joint; and may request imaging tests such as X-rays or magnetic resonance imaging scans (MRIs). Your primary care doctor may also refer you to a specialist such as a rheumatologist.

Don’t ignore symptoms. Your doctor can diagnose the cause of the pain and, if arthritis is the cause, recommend treatment that can ease the pain, reduce stiffness and swelling, prevent further joint damage, and help you feel better.

It might not be arthritis, too. You’ll need to see your doctor to find out for sure.

SOURCES:

Cedars-Sinai: “Arthritis of the Elbow.”

American Academy of Osteopathic Surgeons: “Osteoarthritis of the Elbow.”

Arthritis Foundation.

CDC: “Arthritis-Related Statistics.”

American College of Rheumatology: “Rheumatoid Arthritis.”

UpToDate: “Evaluation of elbow pain in adults,” “Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of osteoarthritis.”

Reviewed by Gabriela Pichardo on May 04, 2020

SOURCES:

Cedars-Sinai: “Arthritis of the Elbow.”

American Academy of Osteopathic Surgeons: “Osteoarthritis of the Elbow.”

Arthritis Foundation.

CDC: “Arthritis-Related Statistics.”

American College of Rheumatology: “Rheumatoid Arthritis.”

UpToDate: “Evaluation of elbow pain in adults,” “Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of osteoarthritis.”

Reviewed by Gabriela Pichardo on May 04, 2020

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