Causes of Elbow Pain

The human elbow is the point at which three bones meet, and the connection of every two of them forms a joint. These joints are located in a common articular bag. Around them are ligaments, muscles, tendons, nerves, blood vessels. Damage to any of the elements of the system affects the condition of the elbow, causing discomfort to its owner. If you hit with your elbow, it is very likely that discomfort is caused by injury.

Dislocations, sprains, fractures, tears – all this is an occasion for an immediate visit to the doctor. Even in the event of an injury, the cause of the pain can be complex if the complex elbow system was initially disordered due to the inflammatory process caused by an undetected disease. Pain in the elbow joint may appear “out of the blue”, without visible conditions.

Do not hope that everything goes away on your own – it’s better to take control of the situation, consult a doctor and undergo treatment. Here are a few diseases that can cause discomfort or pain in the elbow.

  • Elbow arthritis. Its danger is that, having arisen in one joint, it “spreads” to others. Infections or autoimmune diseases, gout, tuberculosis – and even such “harmless” ailments like vitamin deficiency or simple food poisoning can become the prerequisites for arthritis. Not only pain is felt, but also the stiffness of movements, which over time can turn into complete immobility.
  • Elbow bursitis. Inflammation in the triple articular bag manifests itself in the form of edema, a fever is possible, and even the usual actions respond with severe pain. If you do not feel discomfort, but see a swelling in the elbow joint, it can also be bursitis, which has not yet passed into the stage at which constant pain will still make you go to the doctor.
  • Hernias in the spine can also cause elbow pain. If the hand hurts, regardless of whether you are doing it or not, if it seems to you that it is weaker than usual, problems with the vertebrae are possible.
  • Epicondylitis The second name for epicondylitis is “tennis elbow”. If you like to play tennis, you need to choose the right racket and learn from the coach the technique of punches. Due to the wrong choice of equipment and errors in the technique, the muscles are overstrained, injuries occur that are difficult to recognize even with the help of special equipment. Inflammatory processes begin, which increase pain. This disease is diagnosed both in athletes and in patients who are not involved in sports at all, but who make repeated movements. Knit for hours? Dug up the whole garden? Do you work a lot at the computer? You are at risk.

Listen to yourself: how does the elbow hurt?

Is the pain concentrated in the elbow joint itself or spreads lower down the arm? How strong is the feeling? When you feel uncomfortable, does this happen in certain situations (put your hand on a firm; get up in the morning, slept all night with your head on your hand; train enthusiastically in the gym or on the court)? Here are examples to make it easier for you to navigate, but the same diseases sometimes manifest themselves in different ways. After studying the clinical picture, the doctor will make an accurate diagnosis.

  • Constant aching pain, mobility of the arm is limited, the skin on it turned red: arthritis.
  • Unpleasant sensations arise when you rotate your hand or load it heavily: epicondylitis.
  • Constant pain background, not concentrated in the elbow, but affecting it, including: hernias and other problems with the spine.
  • Acute, throbbing pain, a painful swelling formed below: bursitis.

The pain can be constant and severe, it can occur periodically and even almost not be felt – but you need to seek medical help regardless of what type of discomfort you feel. There are three joints in the elbow, there are many components in each joint, they are all interconnected, and in order to figure out which part of the system has failed and why, an experienced doctor is needed.

Even if the pain is mild, it can have serious causes, and treatment should not be left to chance. Specialists in oriental medicine will stop the onset of the inflammatory process with the help of acupuncture and acupressure, and along with the inflammation the discomfort will go away.

How to understand what hurts and why?

Focus on the type of pain, its localization and intensity, remember what preceded the onset of pain in the elbow joint: general malaise, trauma, slight discomfort? Depending on this, a possible diagnosis can be suggested, but it will be much more correct to seek professional help.

The doctor will examine the hand, ask questions, take tests if necessary and direct you to additional examinations, and if this is an oriental medicine doctor, he will examine the entire body, revealing the relationship between pain in the elbow joint and how you feel in general.

Eastern treatment

After the diagnosis is made, the doctor will prescribe treatment: drug therapy, aspiration (with bursitis). Most diseases also involve physiotherapy, massage or therapeutic exercises, either as the main treatment or as additional therapy to restore the functionality of the arm after removing the cause of the pain.

Oriental medicine solves all these issues. Injection of drugs into active points helps regenerate damaged tissues where it is most needed, osteopathy slows down degenerative processes and restores joints, acupuncture relaxes and anesthetizes. Result: pain in the elbow joint passes quickly and does not return.

Shishkevich Vladimir, orthopedic and traumatologistShishkevich Vladimir, orthopedic and traumatologist, project editor-in-chief ExpertNews.

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Is self-treatment effective?

At home, you can do just a little. Warming to reduce discomfort in the joint, anesthetizing ointments – that’s all. Medicinal herbs help, but it’s better not to do this on your own, and turn to a phytotherapist (there are such specialists in our clinic), who will determine which herbs will help in your case the fastest and, most importantly, will not harm. Do not rely on the treatment methods found on the World Wide Web – it will be more effective to visit a doctor.

What to do to prevent pain

To avoid the appearance of pain in the elbow joint, do exercises more often when doing monotonous work – both at the computer and in the garden. Take breaks, stretch your arms, twist them, stretch, make several bends. Watch how you sit – incorrect posture affects the health of the back, and back pain is reflected in the elbows.

Before heavy loads, do a warm up, and after them – a hitch so that both elbows and the whole body enter the load and leave it gradually, without jerking. Monitor the general condition of the body, preventing the progression of infectious diseases. If you know that your elbows are your weak spot, wear special elbow pads before loading.

Elbow pain

The elbow joint is formed by the articulation of the humerus, radius and ulna. The articular surfaces of the bones are covered with hyaline cartilage, which contributes to soft and smooth movements in the joint. The elbow joint refers to the complex parts of the body, since in its cavity three smaller joints can be distinguished: radiolokteva, brachiochnevis and brachioradialis.

Diagnosis of various diseases of the elbow joint usually does not cause difficulties for specialists. This is due to the fact that the elbow joint is well accessible for examination and various diagnostic procedures.

Elbow pain can occur for many reasons. A thorough clinical study to confirm the diagnosis can be supplemented by a variety of functional tests. Particular attention should be paid to the position of the elbow. With exudation into the joint, thickening of the synovial membrane and degenerative diseases of the joints, the hand will be slightly bent at the elbow joint.

Diseases and causes of pain in the elbow joint:

1. Osteochondrosis, inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and gout, chondrocalcinosis, tumors, tendonitis and osteoarthritis are the most common causes of pain in the elbow joint. However, compression syndromes, such as ulnar tunnel syndrome, can also occur in the elbow joint due to osteophytes narrowing the groove of the ulnar nerve.

2. One of the most common causes of pain in the elbow joint is lateral epicondylitis or “tennis elbow”. Less commonly, medial epicondylitis develops, also called the golfer’s elbow.

In addition to local pain on palpation, typical signs include the occurrence of pain in the corresponding section of the elbow with passive movements: extension – “tennis player’s elbow”, or bending of the hand – “golfer’s elbow”, as well as pain from muscle tension.

Specific tests help distinguish the symptoms of the pathology of the epicondyle from the symptoms associated with other diseases.

3. External epicondylitis (“tennis elbow”)

The muscles involved in extension of the hand are attached to the lateral epicondyle of the humerus – the long and short radial extensors of the wrist (muscles of the clenched fist) and the shoulder-beam muscle. Inflammation of the tendons of these muscles at the point of attachment to the bone is called lateral epicondylitis. Muscles are weak flexors of the forearm, so when they are damaged, the function of the elbow joint practically does not suffer.

This pathology, as a rule, affects people over 35 years old. The appearance of pain in the elbow joint is preceded by an unusual load – working in the garden, playing sports after a long break, etc. The patient accurately indicates the site of greatest pain, corresponding to the external epicondyle of the humerus. Possible irradiation of pain down the outer surface of the forearm to the hand. The pain is easily reproduced with resistance to active extension in the wrist joint.

4. Internal epicondylitis (“golfer’s elbow”)

The tendons of the muscles attached to the medial epicondyle are affected – the round pronator, the ulnar and radial flexors of the hand, the long palmar muscle. Medial epicondylitis is less common than external. Palpation tenderness at the site of muscle attachment is determined. Possible irradiation of pain along the ulnar surface of the forearm to the hand.

5. Bursitis of the ulnar process

The surface bag of the ulnar process is located above the elevation of the ulnar process, and does not communicate with the cavity of the elbow joint. Inflammation of the bag occurs in isolation as a result of chronic injury to the posterior-lower surface of the elbow (in car drivers resting their elbow on the door), or in combination with arthritis in gout and RA. In the area of ​​the ulnar process, a slightly painful rounded formation up to the size of a chicken egg of soft consistency arises. It becomes clearly visible when the arm is extended in the elbow joint. With isolated bursitis, the function of the elbow joint does not noticeably suffer.

Other causes of elbow pain:

1. Lesions of one elbow joint are often observed with hemophilia and Charcot’s neurotrophic arthropathy. Monoarthritis of the elbow joint, as well as deforming arthrosis, are rare.

2. The cause of “articular blockade” may be dissecting osteochondritis of the epiphysis of the humerus or synovial chondromatosis. With these diseases, “articular mice” are often found in the cavity of the elbow joint.

3. Restriction of mobility of the elbow joint, in the absence of visible changes, can be caused by diffuse fasciitis. With this pathology, the skin on the inner surface of the forearms and shoulders becomes like an orange peel, it cannot be folded, and under it is felt a completely painless seal.

4. Pain in the elbow joint can be reflected. Its cause may be an infringement of the nerve roots in case of spinal osteochondrosis or intervertebral hernias located in the segment C5 – C6 and ThI – ThII. With this pathology, a violation of flexion in the elbow joint, disorders of skin sensitivity along the surface of the forearm, and the development of atrophy of the biceps muscle are noted.

5. Injuries to the elbow joint. Most often, the posterior elbow joint dislocations are observed, less often the anterior and lateral dislocations. Dislocations can be combined with fractures of the bones that make up the elbow joint, as well as with the separation of tendons. Injury mechanism: fall on the wrist, sports, industrial, automobile injuries.

In the posterior dislocation, the elbow joint is deformed, the forearm is shortened, and the protruding ulnar process is visible. Concerned by severe pain, movements in the joint are sharply limited. When attempting extension in the joint, springy resistance is determined.

With anterior dislocation, the forearm is elongated compared with a healthy limb; in the region of the ulnar process, retraction is determined. With lateral dislocations, the forearm is displaced inward or outward. With anterior and lateral dislocations, there is often damage to the ulnar or median nerve with loss of sensitivity on the hand.

When the tendons rupture, the biceps muscle of the shoulder most often suffers, sometimes the tendons of several muscles can come off. In this case, the function of the active movements of the upper limb is disrupted, the flexion strength in the elbow joint is reduced, asymmetry of the shape of the muscles occurs compared to the intact limb, swelling and pain are noted.

HOW TIBETAN MEDICINE Eliminates Pain in the Elbow Joint

Tibetan medicine has truly vast experience in the treatment of diseases of the musculoskeletal system, which has been measured for millennia. One of the main principles of treatment, Tibetan doctors consider the correction of lifestyle and nutrition. That is, a person should avoid hypothermia, wear clothing appropriate for the season, keep the body (arm) warm, and not conduct hardening procedures (dousing with water). Food should be warm (hot), cold food and drink should be excluded from the diet. Doctors of Tibetan medicine pay attention to the psycho-emotional state of a patient with a similar ailment. Violation of the functions of the nervous system (“wind”), affecting the entire body, “hits” the most vulnerable and weak points of a person. Therefore, such warming procedures as moxotherapy (heating with wormwood cigars), the Mongolian method of oil-herbal massage “Jorma” have a sedative effect on the nervous system, along with the doctor’s conversations and his recommendations.

What do the doctors of the Tibetan medicine clinic “Naran” do in the first place:

  1. Diagnose by polling, examination, pulsodiagnosis, palpation
  2. Based on the combined data of eastern diagnostic techniques, they establish the exact cause of the pain
  3. Relieve pain in one to two sessions using the tried and tested acupuncture method
  4. They begin treatment by combining several methods, taking into account the characteristics of the disease that caused a similar symptom.


  1. Pain relief
  2. Restoring the mobility of the elbow joint
  3. Improving blood and lymph circulation and nutrition in cartilage
  4. Improving nerve impulse conduction
  5. Elimination of general and local stagnation of energy flows
  6. Increased immunity
  7. Normalization of metabolism
  8. Muscle cramps

Clinic “Naran” in 2019 celebrates its 30th anniversary, which, of course, is modest in comparison with “eternity”, but impressive on a Russian scale. The first to open a Tibetan medicine clinic in Moscow, and then the branches in the largest cities of St. Petersburg, Kazan, Yekaterinburg, Vienna (Austria), keep the bar high for thirty years, be sought after by demanding Muscovites, cure thousands of people, earn their recognition, Of course, this speaks of high-class doctors and professionals.

Unfortunately, many patients do not pay attention to such “trifles” as unpleasant pain in the joints. Take time and contact the specialists who have been treating such diseases for a long time. Come at the first sign of ill health, thereby avoiding many suffering in the future. If you think that joint diseases are the lot of “old people” and you are far from that, do not flatter yourself greatly. If you are now 40, then at 60-70 you will want to be as mobile and active as today. Moreover, now the age framework has moved apart and people have long remained strong and attractive.

A set of procedures at a fixed cost. Ideal for the treatment of any disease.

It perfectly complements the procedures and treats you from the inside.

Any complex treatment session begins with it.

Improves blood circulation and blood circulation

It affects biologically active points activating the healing process.

Elbow pain

Summary: Pain in the elbow joint is often found in athletes after a hand injury. If there is no traumatic or sports history, then the most common cause of pain in the elbow is a hernia of the cervical spine. In this case, the examination should start with an MRI of the cervical spine.

Keywords: elbow pain, elbow pain, cervical disc herniation

Pain in the elbow joint is usually not severe, but since the elbow joint is often used by a person, pain in the elbow can clearly affect daily activities. The elbow joint is a complex joint that allows a person to make many movements with his forearm and hand, which are based on such movements as flexion, extension and rotation. Therefore, sometimes it is difficult for the patient to understand what exactly becomes a source of pain.

Causes of pain in the elbow joint:

  • Broken arm;
  • Fracture of the elbow;
  • Fatigue fracture – tiny cracks in the bone. The reason is an excessive load on the bone (weight lifting, sports, implying a repeated load on a certain area). Fatigue fracture can also occur if the bone is weakened, for example, with osteoporosis;
  • Bursitis – inflammation of the joint bag (bursa);
  • Tendonitis – inflammation or irritation of the tendon;
  • Elbow tunnel syndrome, which occurs with irritation or damage to the ulnar nerve;
  • Beam tunnel syndrome, which develops as a result of pinching of the radial nerve in the area directly under the elbow;
  • Displacement of the elbow joint;
  • Stretching or overstrain of muscles and ligaments;
  • A golfer’s elbow is a condition that causes pain in the place where the tendons of the forearm are attached to a small bony protrusion on the inner surface of the elbow. Pain can radiate in the forearm and wrist;
  • Tennis player’s elbow is a painful condition that occurs when too much stress is placed on the tendons of the elbow. As a rule, we are talking about repeated movements of the hand and wrist;
  • Pitcher’s elbow – a condition that mainly affects children and adolescents involved in “throwing” sports, for example, baseball;
  • Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis that affects millions of people around the world. Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage at the ends of the bones wear out and begin to perform worse their protective function. Although osteoarthritis can affect any joint, most often it affects the joints of the arms and legs, as well as the hips;
  • Dissecting osteochondritis (Koenig’s disease) is a condition in which a bone under the cartilage dies due to a lack of blood flow. As a result, the bone may exfoliate from the cartilage, which will cause pain and problems with movement in the joint. Dissecting osteochondritis most often occurs in children and adolescents. Symptoms may appear after an injury or several months of activity, implying an increased load on the joint. Dissecting osteochondritis is most often found in the knee and elbow;
  • Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease, usually affecting the small joints of the hands and feet. In contrast to osteoarthritis, which occurs as a result of joint wear, rheumatoid arthritis affects the articular membrane, causing painful swelling of the joint, which subsequently leads to bone erosion and joint deformation. This is an autoimmune disease, which means that it occurs due to the fact that the immune system mistakenly begins to attack healthy body tissues;
  • Intervertebral hernia of the cervical spine (a common cause of pain in the elbow joint) is a condition that can lead to a pinched nerve at the level of the spine and, as a consequence, to the appearance of the so-called reflected pain (i.e. pain that is felt in the wrong place where its cause is located). Intervertebral hernia is most often a consequence of the general process of degeneration of the intervertebral disc. Degeneration of the intervertebral disc is an age-related process that occurs as a result of aging. However, there are certain risk factors that can lead to the start of the degeneration process at an earlier age. Such factors include a sedentary lifestyle, smoking, overweight, pregnancy, work or hobbies, which involve lifting heavy objects or repeated stress on the spine (driving a car, working at a computer). Degeneration of the intervertebral disc leads to a weakening of the intervertebral disc: it flattenes and becomes more fragile, which can cause a crack to form in its outer shell, through which a part of the gel-like internal contents of the disc is squeezed out into the spinal canal – a hollow tube in which the spinal cord and roots departing from it spinal nerves – and can compress the nearby nerve root. An intervertebral hernia in the cervical spine can cause a variety of symptoms, including pain in the shoulder, arm, elbow, wrist, hand and fingers. In addition to pain, the patient may feel numbness and tingling in these areas, in severe cases, weakness of the muscles of the arm develops. Other symptoms of intervertebral hernia in the cervical spine:
    1) headache;
    2) dizziness;
    3) high or low blood pressure, jumps in blood pressure;
    4) pain, numbness in the neck;
    5) stiff neck muscles;
    6) pain between the shoulder blades;
    7) pain under the shoulder blade.
  • A tumor is a rare cause of elbow pain. Cancer of the bone entering the elbow joint can be painless or combined with pain in the elbow. Bone cancer can be diagnosed with scintigraphy;
  • Infection of the elbow joint (septic arthritis) is rare. People with a suppressed immune system, people with diabetes, those who take medications that include cortisone, and people who inject drugs are most at risk for septic arthritis. Most often, pathogen bacteria for infections of the elbow joint become staphylococcus or streptococcus. Septic arthritis of the elbow joint requires antibiotic treatment and (often) surgical drainage. It is characterized by inflammation, redness, pain and decreased mobility in the joint;
  • Cellulite (not a cosmetic problem, but inflammation of the subcutaneous fat) most often occurs after skin damage. If damage to the skin occurs, bacteria on the surface of the skin can penetrate to deeper levels. This leads to inflammation of the skin, accompanied by redness and inflammation of the affected area. Most often, the same staphylococcus and streptococcus are the culprits of cellulite. Patients may also experience fever. Cellulite requires treatment with antibiotics taken either orally or intravenously. In addition, the application of a heating pad can help in the treatment process. Cellulite can also spread to the joint bag, causing inflammation (bursitis).

Get medical attention immediately if:

  • you have an obvious deformation of the elbow joint.

Contact your doctor at:

  • severe pain, inflammation of the elbow joint;
  • a problem with the mobility of the elbow joint, the arm as a whole.

Plan a trip to the doctor if:

  • pain in the elbow does not subside after several days of treatment at home;
  • pain occurs even when you do not use your hand;
  • swelling, redness, or joint pain is aggravated over time.

Diagnosis of pain in the elbow joint

The methods for diagnosing the cause of pain in the elbow joint are diverse, but, as a rule, the diagnosis is made on the basis of the compiled medical history of the patient and the medical examination. Most causes of elbow pain do not require further testing. For certain diseases and conditions, radiography, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), arthrography, blood tests, and fluid sampling from the affected area may be necessary.

Treatment of pain in the elbow joint

The treatment for elbow pain depends on the cause of the pain. With simple inflammation, methods such as limiting mobility in the elbow, taking anti-inflammatory drugs, applying a heating pad or bladder with ice are used. Treatment of a fracture involves the application of a splint or plaster, in some cases, surgical intervention. Treating an infection involves draining and taking antibiotics. Treatment of intervertebral hernia may include unloading traction of the spine, a complex of therapeutic massages, therapeutic exercises, hirudotherapy.


The prognosis depends on the specific cause of the pain in the elbow joint.


Avoidance of injuries and excessive stress on the spine, arm and joint. Exclusion of traumatic sports and long sitting at the computer.

The article was added to Yandex Webmaster 2016-01-12, 17:21

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Why the elbow hurts

The elbow joint refers to complex joints, it consists of the following parts: radius, humerus and ulna. Essentially, these are three joints enclosed in a single joint bag. The ulnar nerve passes through the joint and is located close enough to the skin, passing between the tendons of the muscles of the forearm. Therefore, the elbow is easily “knocked out” by accidentally hitting the radial nerve. The sensations of a person with an elbow bruise are similar to an electric shock, after which the arm remains immobilized for a short time. This is the simplest reason why there are pains in the elbow against the background of absolute health. Pain sensations in the joint have many causes leading to inflammatory processes in various tissues that make up the anatomical formation – the shoulder-elbow joint.

Why elbows hurt

The concept of “elbow” has two meanings. Both are applied to the upper limb. Firstly, it is the length of the arm from the wrist to the elbow. Secondly, the elbow joint itself. Since the ancient measure of length is now out of date, these parts of the hands are called the forearms. And pain in the elbow in medicine is determined by the localization of sensations in the elbow joint. The following reasons lead to a similar condition:

  • Traumatic lesions;
  • Артроз;
  • Arthritis;
  • Gout;
  • Lesions of bones and articular surfaces (osteophytes, chondrocalcinosis);
  • Tumor processes.

In addition to damage to the articular surfaces, pain in the elbow causes inflammation of the muscles and ligaments:

  • Bursitis;
  • Fasciitis;
  • Epiconylitis;
  • Tendonitis;
  • Cubital Channel Syndrome.

Diseases of the cardiovascular and nervous systems lead to pain in the elbow:

  • Coronary heart disease;
  • Hemophilia;
  • Osteochondrosis and intervertebral hernia;
  • Neuritis of the ulnar nerve.

The relationship between the vascular, neuromuscular and skeletal system is so tight that it becomes clear why the elbows hurt in the absence of joint tissue damage.

Pain in the elbow joint

Undoubtedly, dislocations, subluxations and fractures are accompanied by pain. Diagnosis of traumatic injuries is simple and confirmed by x-ray examination.

It is much more difficult to determine arthrosis, which is a lesion of the cartilaginous plates of the articular surfaces. As a rule, pain in the joint of the elbow during the degenerative processes of the cartilage tissue occurs only with movements that are accompanied by an unpleasant crunch. The articular surface becomes swollen, but no vivid signs of inflammation are detected. In patients with arthrosis, the elbow hurts with flexion and maximum extension of the upper limb.

Arthritis is translated into Russian as “joint inflammation.” Accordingly, it is accompanied by all the signs of an acute process. These are pain in the elbow, impaired joint function, redness, swelling and fever in the joint bag.

Gout and chondrocalcinosis, in fact, are one phenomenon: deformation of cartilage surfaces. Roughness on the smooth parts of touching joints increases friction and irritates the receptor apparatus. That is why the elbows hurt in diseases associated with metabolic disorders.

The resulting tumors of muscle, nerve or bone tissue also compress the receptor field and blood vessels that feed the elbow joint.

Inflammatory processes of the connective and muscle tissues are manifested in the same way as lesions of the articular surfaces. Acute pathological changes, one way or another, are manifested by intense pain. However, the elbow does not hurt at all when flexing the ligamentous apparatus from microtrauma. The disease is allocated in a separate form – epicondylitis. This is the so-called “tennis player’s elbow.” It occurs in people who are not related to this sport.

With bursitis, a protrusion filled with inflammatory exudate appears in the area of ​​the elbow joint. Outwardly resembles a hernia, it is characterized by a sharp soreness and a red-purple color.

Cubital canal syndrome, or tunnel syndrome, appears when the ulnar nerve is compressed in the region of the ulnar canal. When a nerve is damaged, pain in the elbow joint occurs regardless of physical activity. The main manifestation of the pathology is a feeling of numbness that extends to the shoulder and little finger.

With coronary heart disease, pain in the elbow extends to the region of the forearm of the left hand. They have an irradiation character.

With hemophilia, due to bleeding disorders, hemorrhages occur in the joint bag. Blood elements irritate the articular surfaces and provoke the growth of granulations, which exacerbate the pressure on the joint. Hemarthrosis develops, prone to suppuration and the formation of a scar-adhesive process. With hemophilia, pain in the joint of the elbow is acute and difficult to treat with non-narcotic pain medications.

An intervertebral hernia, as a result of osteochondrosis, compresses the nerve bundles coming from the trunk of the spinal cord. When a disc herniation appears in the thoracic region, pain is felt in the elbow on the affected side of the spine. A distinctive feature in lesions of the nerve bundle is the prevalence of pain: from the shoulder girdle to the elbow joint. A patient suffering from a hernia of the intervertebral disc can wake up at night from pain in the elbow, and this happens without any movement of the hand. Pain begins in the neck and instantly passes to the elbow joint.

Neuritis of the ulnar nerve often accompanies tunnel syndrome, but can develop independently. Symptoms of inflammation of the nervous tissue are not limited to pain, but lead to a loss of sensitivity and atrophy of muscle tissue. With a prolonged course of the disease, the muscles weaken so much that between the ulnar and radius the cavity forms in the form of a groove on the forearm.

Elbow pain, treatment

For pain in the elbow joint, consult a doctor. A joint pathologist is involved in a traumatologist, and a neuropathologist is involved in problems with motor activity.

In cases of injury, you need to know about the first aid that you need to provide to the victim. For pain in the elbows, treatment in terms of first aid is limited to applying cold to the bruised area. To do this, a hot water bottle or ice from the refrigerator will do. If there is no first-aid kit at hand, an impromptu bandage in the form of a scarf should be applied to ensure peace for the injured hand. Even a specialist cannot repair a dislocation of a complex joint without X-ray examination, since there is the possibility of rupture of the ligaments.

When the cause of elbow pain is known, treatment is prescribed by a doctor of the appropriate profile. If suppuration or hemorrhage in the joint occurs, a puncture is performed followed by pumping out the contents of the joint bag.

Therapeutic treatment is to prescribe painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs. With acute pain in the elbow, all sorts of physical exercises are contraindicated, but physiotherapy is effective.

Aching pain in the elbow

Aching pain in the elbow occurs both due to trauma and as a result of any disease. It is worth noting that, in itself, aching pain in the elbow rarely appears. Usually soreness in the elbow has a combined character – the pain at the initial stage of development of the pathology can be aching, with exacerbation it becomes more severe, and already in remission, the patients again experience aching pain. Because of this, patients do not always consult a doctor, believing that the problem resolved by itself. However, if the elbow aches, this cannot be ignored.

Elbow bruise is one of the most common household injuries. It can be obtained quite easily – it is rather careless to put the right or left elbows, as acute pain arises in its very depths. And this is not surprising, because in the elbow joint there are three large nerves that respond very quickly to any injury. Usually, a person does not attach great importance to injury if there is no dissection of soft tissues, but the elbow joint does not allow itself to be forgotten, since people after a bruise have a long lasting pulling unpleasant pain after an impact.

A bruise of the elbow joint is primarily a mechanical injury that occurs during compression, pushing, or direct damage to soft tissues. With a strong blow in the elbow joint, the most fragile elements – the capsule, nerves, tendon, can suffer. Cartilage and bone are much more resistant.

Usually aching pain in the elbow after the blow is accompanied by other signs of damage:

  • hemarthrosis;
  • soft tissue hematoma;
  • cartilage damage;
  • nerve compression;
  • rupture of articular connective elements or tearing of ligaments, tendons;
  • subsequently, an elbow bruise threatens the development of bursitis, tendonitis or synovitis.

Usually, it is possible to damage the elbows as a result of household injury, but it can be injured in the workplace, as a result of an accident, etc. Symptoms of bruised elbow are mixed. At the first moment, sharp pain does occur in the elbow joint. It appears for a few seconds, after which the joint releases and the elbow no longer hurts, but the sharp pain is replaced by aching. There is pain so easily because the individual nerves are located quite close to the skin, so when the nerves are compressed, the pain response comes instantly.

Usually, a slight degree of elbow bruise is not accompanied by additional signs, while a strong bruise can be supplemented by edema, hematoma, a decrease in range of motion, and reddening of soft tissues. If you do an MRI, the doctor will see the internal signs of bruising of the elbow joint – an increase in the joint capsule, movement of the fat pad, damage to the cartilage.

Dimexide is diluted in half with water and in the gauze, folded in several layers, soak the resulting liquid. If at home there is any non-steroidal anti-inflammatory gel or cream, for example, Diclofenac, it is best to lubricate the elbow first with NSAIDs, and then apply a compress. Usually, the nagging at the elbow will last a few more days, but after 2-3 days of applying compresses, the soreness will disappear.

If bruising complications occur, consult a doctor. Complications include suppuration of the joint, increased bruising, redness of the soft tissues. Most likely, the joint is infected and inflammation begins. The nature of the pain will tell you about this: aching pain will be replaced by sharp, jerking sensations, and in this case we can’t do without a doctor’s consultation – he will tell you why the elbow pain appears and how to eliminate it.


Aching pain in a person’s elbow can be triggered by epicondylitis. This is an inflammatory pathology affecting the tendon, which is attached to the lateral epicondyle. Soreness in this disease is felt from the side and from the outside, and unpleasant sensations are also given to the forearm.

Usually, epicondylitis is the result of excessive stress on the arm or appears as a result of performing monotonous, often repeated movements. In most cases, epicondylitis of the right hand is detected. Therefore, mild aching pains usually occur in patients with the usual rhythm of life, are not associated with sharp injuries, so patients often cannot remember exactly when the problem appeared. Such a picture can last several weeks or even months.

In acute lateral epicondylitis, the pain appears suddenly and proceeds sharply, but a chronic disease provokes aching pain all over the arm. In this case, the muscles of the elbow tighten and the tendons degenerate slowly, as a result of which they are replaced by inelastic connective tissue. The disease is dangerous because the place of attachment of the tendon to the bone is thinned and a separation can occur. At rest, usually pain is absent.

Glucocorticoid injections directly to the joint give a good result.

The diagnosis of epicondylitis is made on the basis of an external examination of the joint, usually the pathology is indicated by a clear localization of pain in the epicondyle or in the adjacent tendon area. Attempts to move the arm cause pain, the joint aches and twitches. Differential diagnosis of pathology is not difficult: usually doctors easily distinguish epicondylitis from cubital canal syndrome or arthrosis.

The treatment of the disease is based on the immobilization of the limb. With a mild degree of development of pathology, you can impose a thin longuette with bandaging the hand with a scarf. If the joint is pulled and aching, it is advised to apply ice for a while to relieve soreness, but, basically, the symptoms are relieved by the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Nurofen in the form of a gel gives the best effect, but other drugs from the NSAID group can also be used. If the effectiveness of Nurofen is weak, then glucocorticoids are used, betamethasone is considered the most suitable drug. It is mixed with an anesthetic and injected directly into the affected joint. If the amount of destructive damage is large and conservative therapy does not help, then surgery is possible.

Elbow hurts: causes and nature of pain in the joint

Causes and nature of pain

The main causes of elbow pain are:

Pain in the elbow due to epicondylitis occurs in 60-80% of cases, in 20% of the cause of pain is damage to the cervicothoracic spine.

It is dangerous when the elbow joint of the left hand begins to hurt. This may indicate myocardial infarction. In diagnosis, the overall clinical picture is important.

Pain on the inside of the arm

If the arm hurts from the elbow to the forearm, then the cause may be epicondylitis. This disease is associated with an inflammatory process that occurs as a result of damage to the tendons of the elbow joint or excessive physical exertion.

It is internal and external. It is the first form that leads to the appearance of pain from the inside. Pain in the elbow is caused by light but monotonous physical labor. This is an occupational disease of seamstresses, painters, computer typing operators.

Flexion and extension pain

If the elbow hurts with flexion and extension, then this is a sure sign of arthrosis. This disease occurs in 10% of cases, but is accompanied by severe consequences.

The pain in this case is tolerable, but unpleasant symptoms appear. The movement is accompanied by a crunch, mobility is limited, so there is a need to keep the hand in a bent position. If arthrosis is not treated in the early stages, the process of articular joint deformation starts.

Other reasons that the right or left elbow hurts when bending:

Pain during physical exertion and weight lifting

The appearance of pain in the elbow joint during weight lifting may be associated with epicondylitis, which is partly an occupational disease. For right-handed people, the elbow of the right hand often hurts when loading, and left-handed people feel pain in the left elbow joint.

Soreness can result from excessive overload of hands, for example, among tennis players or weightlifters.

Pain in clenching a fist and shaking hands

Osteochondrosis is the most dangerous cause of pain. If the disease does not begin to be treated at the initial stage, the elbow is deformed, which leads to loss of arm mobility.

Elbow pain with a clenched fist can be traumatic. More often, the cause is a rupture or damage to the tendons, dislocation, contusion, and the formation of an extensive hematoma. Also, pain in the palm of the hand may indicate tendonitis.

Problems with clenching a fist may occur due to ulnar tunnel syndrome. The disease is accompanied by weakness of the hand and a decrease in the working capacity of the fingers. It is caused by trauma, a prolonged inflammatory process, or tumors.

It’s a dull pain

Overuse or muscle damage can cause aching pain in the elbow. In this case, pulling pain occurs, which intensifies when moving.

With bursitis, the bone on the elbow joint hurts slightly, external manifestations come to the fore, namely:

  • swelling;
  • swelling;
  • the formation of education, filled with fluid, at the bend of the elbow;
  • fever.

Inflammation of the periarticular sac occurs as a result of arthritis or trauma. Without treatment, mobility in the joint is limited, there is pain in the elbow during flexion and extension.

If the arm begins to hurt from the elbow to the forearm along the back surface, then the cause may be external subacute epicondylitis. The nature of the pain is aching dull. Pain in the elbow appears during exertion and pressure, accompanied by stiffness.

Sharp pain

Severe elbow pain occurs with arthritis. In addition to pain, there is a concomitant inflammatory symptomatology – swelling, swelling and fever in the joint area. A sharp pain appears when trying to move, at rest, the elbow hurts slightly.

Severe pain can be associated with gout. During the attack there is a sharp pain in the elbow, the skin swells and turns red. Acute pain can be triggered by chondrocalcinosis. If the ulnar bone hurts due to this disease, do not hesitate, other joint joints may be damaged.

The cause of acute pain in the elbow may be an acute form of epicondylitis. In this case, the pain spreads to the forearm, it is painful to bend the arm, but to keep it in the unbent position is also problematic.

Acute pain in the elbow appears with a purulent form of bursitis, as well as with a herniated disc. Soreness occurs due to infringement of the nerve roots, but at the same time mobility remains within normal limits.

Constant pain

The cause of constant elbow pain is spinal damage. Pain sensations arise not only during movement, but also at rest, sometimes even at night.

It’s not the bone on the elbow that hurts, but the pain gives off from the side of the neck and shoulder, it seems to extend to the whole arm, but focuses on the elbow joint.

The appearance of pain in such cases is not associated with increased physical activity.

Pain at night

If the elbow hurts at night, then the cause may be injuries, inflammation and diseases of the spinal column. Severe pain in the elbow may indicate a hernia of the intervertebral disc.

If the spine is damaged, the whole arm hurts from the elbow to the neck, pain can come from the shoulder blades.

An attack of acute elbow pain at night can also be caused by gout. If at first the elbow hurts slightly, but over time the pain intensifies at night, then this indicates a tumor.

First aid

If the arm from the elbow starts to hurt, then you should go to the hospital. In the absence of the ability to immediately consult a doctor, you can reduce pain at home.

Such techniques can help:

  • eliminate any load on the elbow joint, immobilize it with a scarf;
  • with severe pain, apply cold for 15 minutes;
  • Take advantage of local NSAIDs (Voltaren Emulsifier).

If the joint in the elbow began to hurt after an injury, as a result of which a crunch or crack was heard, it is necessary to go to the emergency room. Necessarily damaged limb is immobilized. Plaster is applied to the area from the wrist to the shoulder.

Which doctor treats pain in the elbow?

If your elbows hurt, then the first thing you should visit a therapist. After the doctor determines the probable reason why the left or right elbow hurts, he can give direction to such specialists:

  • traumatologist;
  • orthopedist;
  • rheumatologist;
  • vertebrologist;
  • endocrinologist;
  • the neuropathologist;
  • osteopath.

Consultation with a cardiologist is sometimes required (if you suspect a heart condition).


To establish the reason why the elbow hurts, laboratory and instrumental examination techniques may be required. To begin with, to compile the initial clinical picture, the doctor examines the patient’s complaints and conducts an examination. At this stage, it is possible to identify concomitant symptoms in the form of redness, swelling or swelling.

Next, a laboratory examination is prescribed – biochemistry and a general analysis of blood and urine. According to the results, you can determine the presence of an inflammatory process, gout, chondrocalcinosis.

Instrumental examination looks like this:

If there is a suspicion of heart disease, an ECG is prescribed.


More often with pain in the elbow joint conservative treatment is indicated. Surgical intervention is performed only in severe cases.

The tactics of treatment depend on the cause of the pain. If the pain is caused by an inflammatory process, then medications are used in the form of tablets, injections, creams, gels and ointments.

Drug therapy may include such means:

  • NSAIDs – Nise, Ibuprofen, Voltaren, Diklak, Indomethacin;
  • analgesics – Baralgin, Analgin;
  • chondroprotectors – Structum;
  • steroid preparations – Diprospan, Hydrocortisone;
  • hyaluronic acid injections – Fermatron, Sinokrom.

The treatment lasts 2-3 weeks, after which it is possible to get rid of the pain.

In chronic diseases, corticosteroids improve the condition for 2-3 months.

Physiotherapeutic procedures — phonophoresis, electrophoresis, magnetotherapy, electroacupuncture, ultrasound and laser therapy — enhance the effectiveness of medicines. They improve blood circulation, restore damaged tissue and mobility of the elbow. The doctor can prescribe a course of 6-11 sessions.

With injuries, therapy is long. Fixation of a limb with gypsum or a splint comes to the main plan. After the restoration of damaged tissues, the patient expects a long period of rehabilitation in order to restore motor activity. An important role is played by massage, gymnastics and acupuncture. They contribute to the development of the joint.

With osteochondrosis, mild physical activity is indicated. Useful hiking, jogging, swimming, skiing.

In acute pain, exercise and massage are contraindicated.

With gout and chondrocalcinosis, therapy is reduced to diet and medications (anti-inflammatory drugs and corticosteroids). With the accumulation of fluid or purulent contents in the joint cavity, puncture is indispensable. Medications are administered intraarticularly. After the puncture, physiotherapeutic procedures are indicated.

If all the methods are ineffective, they resort to surgery, which may involve excision of the tendon tissue, prosthetics of the damaged joint and other manipulations.


Pain in the elbow joint can be prevented if you adhere to these recommendations:

  • Do not perform heavy physical labor, do not lift weights;
  • do warm-up before doing sports;
  • avoid injuries of the elbow joint;
  • timely treatment of infectious diseases;
  • when muscle strain, massage;
  • while working at the computer to keep your back straight;
  • take vitamin complexes to strengthen the musculoskeletal system.

If the work is associated with regular loads on the elbow, it is worth taking breaks, it is necessary to use clamps or elastic bandages.

With pain in the elbow, do not hesitate to delay therapy. It is important to find out the reason in order to adjust the lifestyle.

Posted by Oksana Belokur, Doctor,
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Useful video about pain in the elbow

List of sources:

  • Evdokimenko P. Pain and numbness in the hands. What you need to know about your disease. 2015.
Anatoly Kudravets

Anatoly Kudravets, Orthopedic Traumatologist. He works with severe cases, practices operative methods of treating connective tissues