Severe 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.

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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

  • We combine western and eastern techniques!
  • Relieve elbow pain in 1-3 sessions!
  • Effectively eliminate pain without pills

Why can my elbow hurt? Do I need to run to the doctor or will it go away on my own? How to understand that the situation is close to critical? How to get rid of pain? Where did this pain come from and how to avoid its recurrence in the future? If you came here looking for an answer to any of these questions, then you have come to the address. The pain interferes with normal work, doing household chores, and active people (who suffer from it most often) do not let them enjoy their favorite hobbies. Consider each of the items in more detail.

Possible causes of 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

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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Elbow pain

Pain in the elbow is a fairly common phenomenon, which many patients of the clinics complain about. It can bother at any age, affect the left or right joint and is capable of delivering many unpleasant moments, since it restricts movements and reduces the quality of life.

The ulnar joint itself is a movable joint of a long tubular bone, which is the skeletal base of the shoulder, as well as the ulna and radius. It has a complex structure, as it is formed by three joints enclosed in a single capsule. The innervation of the latter is carried out by the median, ulnar and radial nerves. Joint nutrition is carried out from its own network formed by the return and collateral arteries.

The variety of movements available to the elbow is ensured by four ligaments. Thanks to them, a person can perform flexion / extension, rotation, movement in and out. Any violation associated with a change in the structure or physiology of the elbow joint manifests itself in pain symptoms. Its intensity depends on the pathological process and may be accompanied by edema, redness, and a local increase in temperature.

To find out the cause of pain in the elbow joint, CELT specialists will help. Our multidisciplinary clinic has the widest opportunities for diagnostic studies, which allow you to correctly identify the source of the problem and prescribe adequate treatment. You can find out our prices by going to the tab “Services and prices” or by contacting our operators.

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Why does pain appear in the elbow joints of the hands?

Pain in the left / right elbow joint can occur due to various initiating factors, which can be found in our table below.

This can be strong blows to the joint, bruises, unsuccessful flexion, extension of the upper limb and a heavy load (for example, when carrying heavy bags). Even an insignificant blow with a bent elbow is the cause of sharp pain due to the proximity of the ulnar nerve. As for serious injuries, they require long-term treatment and, as a rule, make the upper limb incapacitated for the period of therapeutic measures.

Damage to tissues of a degenerative-inflammatory nature, developing at the points of fixation of the tendons of the forearm to the epicondyle of the tubular bone of the shoulder. The disease is manifested by pain in the right / left elbow joint, which is aggravated by extension or grasping, prolonged rotation of the same type.

It is a chronic disease characterized by progression in the form of destruction of cartilaginous tissues and an increase in pathological changes not only in the capsule, but also in neighboring bones and ligaments. It manifests itself in pain symptoms, a feeling of morning stiffness, and movement restrictions. As the pathology develops, clinical manifestations intensify, and in the later stages, severe violations of the functions of the upper limb are possible.

It is represented by a whole group of inflammatory lesions, covering cartilage, synovial membranes, capsule and joint as a whole. Clinical manifestations, in addition to pain, are represented by edema, redness, fever in the area of ​​inflammation and joint deformities.

Osteochondrosis of the cervical spine

Chronic pathological condition characterized by degenerative processes of the vertebrae and discs. It manifests itself with pain symptoms that cover the entire left or right upper limb. She grows numb and hurts even more with hypothermia.

Inflammation of the synovial joint bag in acute or chronic form due to prolonged compression or joint infection. It is characterized by the formation and accumulation of exudate, pain symptoms localized in the back of the elbow, along with edema, redness, local increase in body temperature, restriction of movements.

Inflammation of the tendon, followed by degeneration. May be acute and chronic. Painful sensations are first short-term, appearing exclusively during exertion on the affected area. They are absent at rest. As the disease develops, they appear more and more and acquire a paroxysmal character. Other clinical manifestations are edema, local temperature increase, crunching when making movements.

Lesions of the cardiovascular or nervous system

Initiating factorHow and how is it manifested?
  • Myocardial infarction is one of the clinical forms of coronary heart disease, characterized by ischemic death of the myocardial site due to a deficiency in its blood supply, manifested by numbness and pain in the left upper limb, as well as pronounced pain symptoms radiating to the scapular region;
  • Neuropathy of the ulnar nerve, developing as a result of damage to the peripheral nervous system. It is a “companion” of traumatic injuries of the elbow joint. It manifests itself as a weakness in the hand, noticeable when trying to take something in the hand, numbness of the little finger and ring finger, palm on the elbow edge. The above appears especially bright in the morning.


Classification of pain symptoms localized in the elbow can be carried out depending on its features and area of ​​occurrence:

  • Pain in the elbow joint during flexion appears with traumatic rupture of tendons, as well as arthrosis arthritis and bursitis;
  • Pain during extension of the elbow joint may appear for the above reasons, as well as in epicondylitis, when the patient cannot hold an object on an extended upper limb or compress his hand into a fist;
  • Pain symptoms from the inside – may be a sign of epicondylitis or trauma.

Another type of classification is based on the nature of the pain. They can be:

  • reflected – with an initiating factor in the form of diseases of the internal organs;
  • projected – appear due to injuries or compression of the spinal canal;
  • acute – with serious injuries, including fractures and torn ligaments;
  • burning – caused by inflammatory processes of nerve endings, gout;
  • blunt – due to tumors of malignant etiology or destruction of cartilage.

Features of the diagnosis of diseases, the symptom of which is pain in the elbow

During the consultation, the doctor listens to the patient’s complaints and conducts an examination, during which he finds out the area of ​​pain and their nature. He palpates both elbows and often reveals changes in the anatomical structure of the joint. For an accurate diagnosis, he appoints the following diagnostic tests for the patient:

  • Radiography – makes it possible to visualize the effects of trauma or generative processes;
  • Neurological tests – identify existing problems of a neurological nature (for example, pinched nerve endings);
  • Computed or magnetic resonance imaging – prescribed for chronic degenerative-dystrophic pathologies or suspected malignancy neoplasm;
  • Electrocardiography – for pain of a burning nature;
  • Ultrasound scan of the elbow joint.

In addition, the patient will have to pass a general blood test and a rheumatic test, as well as undergo arthroscopy. Such a comprehensive approach will accurately identify the cause of the problem and take action to address it.

Elbow pain treatment

The tactics of treatment are determined individually, depending on the identified disease that provokes pain symptoms. It may include taking pharmacological preparations, physiotherapy and professional massage.

Pharmacological drugs are selected individually, based on the identified disease. They are represented by the following:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in the form of tablets or injections – minimize inflammatory processes, reduce pain, relieve swelling;
  • Muscle relaxants – relieve muscle cramps, relieve pain;
  • Chondroprotectors – for the treatment and prevention of disorders of cartilage structures;
  • Vitamins of group “B” – to eliminate pain symptoms of a neurological nature;
  • Ointments and gels with the effect of anesthesia and warming;
  • Vasodilating drugs that stimulate blood circulation in the joint;
  • Antibacterial agents – eliminating the clinical manifestations of arthritis and bursitis.

It is carried out exclusively if there is evidence. Depending on the situation, it can be aimed at replacing serious damaged bones, removing its fragments.

Prevention of elbow pain

The health of articular joints plays an important role, since it directly affects the quality of human life. Restriction in their movements and pain symptomatology does not allow to perform the usual actions and reduces it. Preventive measures are as follows:

  • A diet containing the necessary vitamins, trace elements and substances useful to the body;
  • The use of orthoses with intensive loads on the joint;
  • Performing exercises to strengthen the ligaments and muscles;
  • Exclusion of hypothermia;
  • Timely request for professional medical help with loss of sensitivity and limited movement.

CELT specialists know how to return to you the joy of life and relieve discomfort. Contact!

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.

Why elbow joints hurt and what to do about it

The elbow joint refers to complex anatomical structures. It is formed by 3 bones. More specifically, the elbow joint consists of 3 small joints, each of which is subject to pathological changes. The elbow is enclosed in the synovial membrane, and important nerves, blood vessels pass nearby, muscles and tendons are attached. Therefore, pain in the elbow joint is not always associated only with damage to the joint, but also with diseases of the surrounding structures.

Contrary to popular and erroneous opinion, the elbow joints hurt not only in athletes, but also in ordinary people, especially those who, on duty, overload this area of ​​the hand. The causes of pain in the elbow joints can be very diverse, but most of them can be attributed to inflammatory, degenerative-dystrophic or traumatic. Consider the main diseases that occur with pain in the elbow joint.

Inflammatory causes of elbow pain

Perhaps this is the most common group of causes of pain in the elbows. Several factors can cause inflammation of the articulation structures: infections, allergic or autoimmune lesions. Depending on which part of the elbow joint has become inflamed, several nosological forms are distinguished.


Arthritis is inflammation of the entire elbow joint, and there may be several reasons. Most often these are pathogenic microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, fungi) or autoimmune systemic diseases (rheumatoid arthritis). Inflammation can also be caused by other factors, for example, allergic reactions of the body, deposition of uric acid with gout (microcrystalline arthritis). As a rule, the disease is acute, but there are also chronic forms.

Regardless of the cause of arthritis, the symptoms of the pathology are very similar. Patients concerned:

  • severe pain in the elbow both during exercise and at rest;
  • a change in the contours of the elbow, which is associated with swelling of the periarticular tissues or the accumulation of fluid inside the joint;
  • impaired function of the hand, which is caused by pain, swelling, or secondary changes in chronic inflammation;
  • redness of the skin of the elbow, a local increase in temperature in this area.

In addition to local signs (joint syndrome), arthritis can occur with a violation of the general well-being of a person. As a rule, this applies to the acute process, chronic diseases proceed more imperceptibly. The patient may complain of fever, pain in the muscles and head, general weakness, lack of appetite, sleep disturbance.

Chronic arthritis is characterized by scant clinical symptoms. Aching pain, appears after provocation. The main danger of chronic inflammation is that over time, pathological changes in the elbow lead to its pronounced deformations and a permanent loss of the function of the hand.

Among systemic diseases of connective tissue, pain in the elbow joint most often causes rheumatoid arthritis. This is a severe chronic autoimmune pathology, which not only leads to severe deformations of the affected joints, but also to a violation of the functions of internal organs.

Important! If you have an elbow joint sore for a long time, there are signs of inflammation, but there are no objective reasons for which such symptoms can be attributed, then seek medical help to exclude rheumatoid arthritis.

To find out why the elbows hurt, it is important in each case, since the treatment depends on it. For example, if antibiotic therapy occupies the main place in the treatment of purulent arthritis, then in case of rheumatoid arthritis – immunosuppressants.


The shell of the elbow joint has several folds and bursa (articular bags). An inflammation that affects only the bursa is called bursitis. This lesion is caused mainly by a microbial infection, and a traumatic injury to the back of the elbow joint is also a common cause.

The main signs of bursitis:

  • acute pain in the elbow, which is pulsating or twitching, disturbs the person both at rest and with movements of the hand;
  • the back surface of the elbow swells, turns red, tumor formation can be observed with a significant accumulation of inflammatory fluid in the bursa;
  • elbow movements are limited due to pain and swelling;
  • at the same time, general signs of the disease may appear (fever, pain in the muscles, in the head, poor health).

If nothing is done with bursitis, then pus from the joint bag can spread to surrounding tissues, which threatens the development of septic shock and death. Therefore, bursitis must be urgently treated, and very often with the help of surgical procedures (opening and draining the abscess).

Degenerative degenerative lesions of the joints of the elbows


This is the second group of causes of pain in the elbows. Most often you have to deal with arthrosis (osteoarthrosis) of the elbow joints. Degenerative-dystrophic process in this joint is not uncommon, it just does not have such serious clinical significance as arthrosis of the knee or hip joints.

Depending on the causes of development, elbow arthrosis can be primary (when the cause of development remains unknown, but the patient has risk factors for this pathology) and secondary, which develops as a result of injuries or arthritis of the elbow.

Symptoms of arthrosis of the elbow joint:

  • aching, not very severe pain that occurs during physical exertion (extension or bending of the arms at the elbow), as well as at the end of the working day;
  • specific clicks or crunching with movements of the upper limb;
  • slowly progressive limitation of the amplitude of motion in the elbow.

Radiography, ultrasound of the joint will help to make an accurate diagnosis. In extreme and incomprehensible cases, you can resort to MRI, CT and arthroscopy.


If your elbows hurt, then you definitely need to remember about a disease such as epicondylitis. This pathology can affect a person of any age and profession if he has risk factors for permanent damage to the ligaments of the elbow joint. Moreover, in the place where they are attached to the bones (in the elbow), chronic inflammation occurs with subsequent degeneration of the ligaments and with their possible rupture.

Depending on which bone in the elbow joint is affected, medial or lateral, lateral or medial epicondylitis is distinguished.

Lateral epicondylitis is also called the “elbow of a tennis player”, since it is in this group of athletes that the disease is occupational. In this case, pain develops or intensifies only during exercise. At rest, they do not bother the patient. As it progresses, the pain becomes so pronounced that a person cannot even raise a cup of coffee or a spoon.

Pain sensations are localized in the outer bone (epicondyle) of the elbow and extend to the muscles of the back surface of the forearm. Deformations, restrictions of movements and signs of edema with epicondylitis do not happen.

Medial epicondylitis is the second name – “golfer’s elbow”, as it is often found in people with this hobby. Also affected are people who daily perform numerous and monotonous flexion movements at the elbows.

Pain in this variant of epicondylitis is localized in the region of the internal epicondyle and spreads to the muscles of the anterior surface of the forearm. The pain intensifies when the arm is bent at the elbow.


Elbow injuries are quite common, as the joint is located superficially. You can get traumatic damage by falling on the elbows, hitting the joint, a sharp and awkward movement, when stretching the elbow. The latter mechanism is often observed in young children, which, when falling, adults hold the hand. There is a dislocation, which is called “nanny’s elbow.”

Frequent injuries of the elbow joint:

  • dislocation of the forearm in the elbow;
  • fracture of the intraarticular parts of the bones;
  • sprain or rupture of ligaments, muscles;
  • traumatic hemarthrosis (intraarticular hemorrhage);
  • bruise of the elbow.

All injuries are accompanied by pain, but the exact type of damage can only be determined by X-ray examination and some other additional diagnostic methods.

Neurological problems

Pain in the elbow may be due to damage to the nerve fibers that pass there. As a rule, these are ulnar and radial nerves.

Ulnar tunnel syndrome

It develops when the ulnar nerve is pinched between the bone structures, muscles and ligaments along the inner surface of the elbow. It can also occur when injuring the area of ​​the elbow joint.

  • pain begins in the elbow from the inside and radiates along the forearm along the inside;
  • there is numbness of the skin or a tingling sensation in the area of ​​nerve innervation (the ulnar side of the arm and 2 fingers – the little finger, the ring finger);
  • as progression decreases muscle strength in this area, a person can not bend the affected fingers.

Beam Tunnel Syndrome

This is a relatively rare disease that occurs when squeezing or injuring the radial nerve on the outside of the elbow. Symptoms of this syndrome are very similar to lateral epicondylitis.

  • pain that occurs in the lateral epicondyle and extends to the forearm along the back surface;
  • weakness of the extensor muscles of the forearm;
  • in severe cases, a person’s brush hangs, he cannot straighten it;
  • skin sensitivity does not suffer.

There are many more causes of elbow pain that are less common. Many people underestimate such signs, trying to get rid of painful sensations on their own, using a variety of folk remedies. But elbow pain can be a sign of a very serious disease that can cost you not only health but also life. Therefore, any pain in the elbow should not remain without medical attention.

Shishkevich Vladimir

Shishkevich Vladimir, orthopedic and traumatologist, project editor-in-chief ExpertNews. It specializes in the treatment of diseases in orthopedic, traumatological, vertebrological profiles

Types of treatmentDetails and Features
  • Immobilization of the affected upper limb using special bandages;
  • Physiotherapy – the impact on the affected area with a high-frequency electromagnetic field or a laser light flux, applications with therapeutic mud or paraffin;
  • Removal of articular fluid by aspiration;
  • Professional massage using special therapeutic ointments;
  • Exercise exercises.