Common Reasons For Pain In The Elbow

Common Reasons For Pain In The Elbow

Pain in the elbow can be felt for any number of reasons, and ranges wildly in severity. This portion of your body is essential to the movement of your arm. If the elbow becomes injured or painful, completing everyday tasks become much more difficult to do. Understanding the many reasons for pain in the elbow may help you with preventing the development of this issue in the future.

Where Does Elbow Pain Come From

When asking yourself the question “Where does elbow pain come from?”, the answer is that it comes from a great many sources. This type of pain is exceedingly common among all age groups, though the reasons as to why it occurs differs with each age group. For instance, younger people can suffer from a condition known as Osteochondritis Dessicans. Older people can just as easily suffer from elbow pain for any number of reasons. Because of this, identifying the cause of your elbow pain can be essential in getting the treatment you need.

In order for the elbow to work correctly, the ligaments, cartilages, bones and tendons in the surrounding area must be working in tandem to properly move the arm. If any of these portions of the elbow are damaged or injured, you will experience pain in this area. Due to the strange shape of the bones within the elbow, it doesn’t have the same type of stability that something like the hip joint does. Because of this, pain can develop quickly and without much forewarning. Since the elbow is comprised of so many components, an issue in any of these components can cause undue amounts of pain. When large amounts of the stress of any kind are placed on the elbow, injuries can and will occur.

What is Elbow Pain a Symptom Of

While elbow pain is typically caused by a standard injury or overuse during sports or exercise, elbow pain can oftentimes be a symptom of a larger issue. Identifying the answer to the question of “What is elbow pain a symptom of?” could assist you in getting the treatment you need before the condition worsens. One of the most common diseases associated with elbow pain is arthritis. Elbow pain can be a symptom of both Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis. The first of these develops as a result of the wearing down of cartilage around the edges of your bones. Not everyone that suffers from arthritis will go through elbow pain, but it is a possibility.

Rheumatoid arthritis primarily involves inflammation. It’s a chronic disorder that can occur around a large portion of the body. This disorder results from an attack made by your immune system on the tissue in the elbow. This condition can become very severe, which is why treatment should be sought immediately. Another condition that elbow pain can be a symptom of is referred to as Bursitis. The bursa in your elbow is a sac filled with fluid that allows for heightened motion in your arms and other areas of the body. When these small sacs become inflamed, you will experience a lot of pain. This condition typically occurs due to an overuse of the elbow.

What Causes Elbow Pain

There are a lot of causes for elbow pain that you need to be aware of if you’re wondering what causes elbow pain. These causes can be further divided into how they affect each portion of the elbow. When it comes to the bones in the elbow, they can become painful due to too much stress. Pitchers in baseball will typically feel pain due to stress fractures. As for the tendons of the elbow, they degrade with age and overuse. Because of this, your tendons can cause pain in the elbow as you get older. Tennis elbow is also a common condition that affects the tendons of an elbow. Injury can be caused to the cartilage of the elbow due to a large amount of stress. If the sport you play involves overhead movements, there’s a good chance that the cartilage in your elbow could eventually degrade and create pain in the elbow.

A variety of nerves stretch from the elbow to the hand. There are times when these nerves can become compressed or injured due to stress or other issues, which creates pain in this area. Lastly, the ligaments in your elbow can also be the cause of the pain you suffer from. Any traumatic injury such as a car crash can lead to tears in the ligaments of your elbow. Playing sports like volleyball and javelin throwing may also lead to pain. These injuries can thankfully be treated.

Why Do I Have Elbow Pain

If you’re asking yourself “Why do I have elbow pain?”, there are many answers to this question. There are numerous conditions that lead to the development of this pain. Ulnar collateral ligament injuries are exceedingly common injuries that occur within what is commonly referred to as the Tommy John ligament. These injuries show up all the time with pitchers in baseball and softball, due to the amount of stress placed on this specific ligament when rotating the arm. With baseball practice occurring in the off-season, pitchers aren’t given the chance to rest their arms for a significant period of time, which simply means that the stress caused by pitching accumulates until this injury occurs. Children that want to consider playing baseball when they get older should focus on protecting the UCL and providing the arm with resting periods to ensure that the stress on the elbow lessens before the next big practice.

While the injury known as tennis elbow leads most people to believe that tennis players are most at risk for this injury, that’s actually not the case. This is a condition that causes a lot of pain just outside the elbow. This pain will make lifting even small objects difficult to do. It’s typically caused by a degeneration of tendons in the elbow. Over time, this injury will heal with proper use of treatment options available to you. These treatment options primarily include using a flex bar and wearing elbow compression sleeves.

Osteochondritis Dessicans, also referred to as OCD, is a type of injury that occurs in younger people, generally due to continued repetitive stress. When stress is placed on the outer bones of the elbow, the capitellum will suffer from a reduction in the supply of blood to the area. When this happens, the pain will develop. Swelling is one of the primary symptoms of Osteochondritis Dessicans. If the injury is not treated in a timely manner, a bone in the elbow can become loose. If caught relatively early, the condition can be treated by resting.

Two large muscles in the elbow are the biceps and triceps. These muscles oftentimes become inflamed when working out too much. The more common injury occurs in the biceps, though the triceps can also become torn. The tearing of the biceps will typically be preceded by a notable pop in the elbow. The ulnar nerve is that portion of the elbow commonly known as the funny bone. This nerve can be found on the inner portion of the elbow. Unfortunately, the nerve can become stuck in the cubital tunnel where it’s housed. When a lot of pressure is placed on the ulnar nerve, the pain will oftentimes follow. The aforementioned are just a few of the many causes of elbow pain.


In this instance, an athlete was originally diagnosed with minor quadriceps muscle strain and was treated for four weeks, with unsatisfactory results. When he came to our clinic, the muscle was not healing, and the patients’ muscle tissue had already begun to atrophy.

Upon examination using MSUS, we discovered that he had a full muscle thickness tear that had been overlooked by his previous provider. To mitigate damage and promote healing, surgery should have been performed immediately after the injury occurred. Because of misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment, the patient now has permanent damage that cannot be corrected.

The most important advantage of Ultrasound over MRI imaging is its ability to zero in on the symptomatic region and obtain imaging, with active participation and feedback from the patient. Using dynamic MSUS, we can see what happens when patients contract their muscles, something that cannot be done with MRI. From a diagnostic perspective, this interaction is invaluable.

Dynamic ultrasonography examination demonstrating
the full thickness tear and already occurring muscle atrophy
due to misdiagnosis and not referring the patient
to proper diagnostic workup

Demonstration of how very small muscle defect is made and revealed
to be a complete tear with muscle contraction
under diagnostic sonography (not possible with MRI)


Complete tear of rectus femoris
with large hematoma (blood)


Separation of muscle ends due to tear elicited
on dynamic sonography examination

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