In general, your Elbow joint is much less prone to wear-and-tear damage than are many other joints. Elbow lets you throw, lift, swing, and hug, for starters. You can do all this because it’s not a simple joint. And that means there are a lot of ways things can go wrong. Elbow pain is often caused by overuse. Many sports, hobbies and jobs require repetitive hand, wrist or arm movements. Let’s understand the working and causes of the elbow:
If you bend your arm, you can feel three bumps at your elbow joint. Injury to the tendons that anchor muscles to the two bumps on either side of the elbow are a common cause of elbow pain. These bumps are:
- The olecranon, the elbow pit, the lateral epicondyles, – the bump on the outer side of the elbow. The muscles on the back of your forearm, responsible for curling your wrist backwards, are anchored to this bony point. Pain in this bump is called lateral epicondylitis (also known as ‘tennis elbow’). This area is particularly susceptible to tennis elbow because it has a poor blood supply.
- medial epicondyles – medial epicondyle– the bump on the inner side of the elbow. The muscles on the front of your forearm, responsible for curling your wrist up, are anchored to this bony point. Pain in this bump is called medial epicondylitis (also known as ‘golfer’s elbow’).
Joint : The elbow joint has three different portions surrounded by a common joint capsule. These are joints between the three bones of the elbow, the humerus of the upper arm, and the radius and the ulna of the forearm.
Muscles: There are three main flexor muscles at the elbow:
- Brachialis – acts exclusively as an elbow flexor and is one of the few muscles in the human body with a single function.
- Brachioradialis acts essentially as an elbow flexor but also supinates during extreme pronation and pronates during extreme supination.
- Biceps brachii is the main elbow flexor but, as a biarticular muscle, also plays important secondary roles as a stabiliser at the shoulder and as a supinator.
We state here the symptoms which can vary from – mild, sharp, severe, dull. Know the different types of pain symptoms so you can describe well to your doctor:
- Difficulty in shake hands or grip an object
- Feeling heavy to turn a doorknob
- Unable or difficult to hold a coffee cup
- Dull ache when at rest
- Pain when making a fist (golfer’s elbow)
- Pain when opening the fingers (tennis elbow)
- Soreness around the affected elbow bump
- Weak grip
- Difficulties and pain when trying to grasp objects, especially with the arm stretched out.
When to see a doctor
If your elbow pain is severe or persistent, it’s important to see your primary care doctor or a specialist nearby for a proper diagnosis. Signs that warrant medical attention include:
- Elbow pain that doesn’t improve after home care
- An inability to carry objects or use your arm
- An injury that causes deformity of the elbow joint
- Elbow pain that occurs at night or while resting
- An inability to straighten or bend the arm
- Severe swelling or significant bruising around the elbow
Signs of an infection, including fever, redness, and warmth
You may have joint inflammation for a variety of reasons, including:
- An autoimmune disease (the body attacks itself because the immune system believes a body part is foreign)
- Broken bone
- General “wear and tear” on joints
- Infection (usually caused by bacteria)
The types of disease most commonly seen at the elbow. It can be chronic and severe if not diagnosed in time.
Elbow arthritis is usually seen in individuals with rheumatoid arthritis or after fractures that involve the joint itself. When the damage to the joint is severe, fascial arthroplasty or elbow joint replacement may be considered.
Olecranon bursitis, pain in posterior part of elbow, tenderness, warmth, swelling, pain in both flexion and extension, in chronic case extreme flexion is painful
Cubital tunnel syndrome, more commonly known as ulnar neuropathy, occurs when the ulnar nerve is irritated and becomes inflamed. This can often happen where the ulnar nerve is most superficial, at the elbow.
Many activities like sports and jobs have heavy usage of elbow. Hence the elbow injuries are common for repetitive wear and tear of elbow tissues.
Tennis elbow is a very common type of overuse injury. It can occur both from chronic repetitive motions of the hand and forearm, and from trauma to the same areas.
Golfer’s elbow is very similar to tennis elbow, but less common. It is caused by overuse and repetitive motions like a golf swing. It can also be caused by trauma. Wrist flexion and pronation (rotating of the forearm) causes irritation to the tendons near the medial epicondyle of the elbow.
There are three bones at the elbow joint, and any combination of these bones may be involved in a fracture of the elbow.
Elbow dislocations constitute 10% to 25% of all injuries to the elbow. The elbow is one of the most commonly dislocated joints in the body. Among injuries to the upper extremity, dislocation of the elbow is second only to a dislocated shoulder. A full dislocation of the elbow will require expert medical attention to re-align, and recovery can take approximately 8–14 weeks.
Infection of the elbow joint (septic arthritis) is uncommon. It may occur spontaneously, but may also occur in relation to surgery or infection elsewhere in the body.
Remember, if you’re ever struggling with a pain for a long, don’t suffer in silence, find the best doctor to your nearest location. And talk to a healthcare professional today!