Elbow Doctor in Austin, TX
Your elbow is a complicated joint that is used frequently and is susceptible to different types of injuries. Acute injuries can happen if you play sports or if you trip and fall. Microtrauma or overuse injuries can occur if you use your joint the same way repeatedly, which causes inflamed tendons and irritated muscles. Some autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis, can also cause elbow pain. Regardless of the cause of the pain, you should not ignore elbow pain. The sooner it is addressed, the better your prognosis will be.
In many cases, you can treat elbow pain at home with rest and activity modification. However, if the condition becomes chronic, you may need the assistance of medical professionals who can evaluate your pain and create a treatment protocol to help you feel better.
What Causes Elbow Pain?
The causes of elbow pain are diverse, however it is usually most commonly caused by overuse. You can also experience elbow pain from an one-time injury, like a fractured elbow, strains, sprains, or a dislocated elbow. Wear and tear injuries, like bursitis, golfer's elbow, tennis elbow, trapped nerves, or stress fractures are from frequent and repeated usage of the joint. Arthritis, gout, Lyme disease, lupus, and other diseases can impact the function of your elbow, leading to pain, swelling, and redness.
Your elbow is a joint formed where three bones come together, and each bone has cartilage on the end. Then your tendons connect your bones to muscles to allow you to move your arm in different ways. If anything happens to any of these parts, not to mention the nerves and blood vessels around them, it can cause you pain.
What Causes Elbow Pain without Injury?
Elbow pain can be debilitating. If you are experiencing elbow pain without an injury, it can be the result of a chronic condition.
You can develop bursitis, a condition that develops over time by repeating the same motion or if you have an infection. The bursas are small sacs that contain fluid. These small sacks help cushion your tendons, muscles, and bones. They also make it easier for your skin to move smoothly over your bones. However, if they become irritated, they can swell, leading to pain.
Tennis elbow is another source of elbow pain. You are likely to develop this condition if you move your arm in the same repetitive way over and over again. This will affect the outside of your elbow. Conversely, golfer's elbow affects the inside of your elbow.
Something similar to carpal tunnel syndrome can happen with your elbow called cubital tunnel syndrome. You have a large nerve in your arm called the ulnar nerve that goes along the elbow, traveling through the cubital tunnel. When this nerve gets pinched, you may experience numbness in your hands and fingers much like carpal tunnel.
Another nerve that can be affected is the radial tunnel nerve. It travels along the outside of your elbow. In addition to elbow pain, you may experience numbness around your forearm and elbow. If you have radial tunnel syndrome, you have a similar issue with the radial nerve as it passes through the radial tunnel near the outside of your elbow. You may have burning or numbness on your outside forearm and elbow.
These are just a couple of conditions that could lead to elbow pain without an apparent injury.
How Can I Relieve Elbow Pain?
The first thing you can do is rest your elbow. Try to minimize overuse or modify your activities so they do not cause pain.
However, you don’t want to stop using your elbow completely. Your elbow indeed needs to rest, but it also needs to move so that it can continue to work.
Try to use your shoulder and the muscles in your upper arm to relieve some of the strain on your elbow. You don’t want to bend or straighten your elbow all the way.
Some over-the-counter pain relievers can help control the pain. Ice is also beneficial since it can reduce swelling and pain.
When Should I See a Doctor for Elbow Pain?
If the pain in your elbow does not improve using rest and ice therapy or if your elbow hurts even when not using it, we recommend scheduling an appointment for a thorough examination and x-rays.
Seek medical attention if you notice increasing pain, swelling, or redness, or if you see a reduction in your range of motion. If you cannot do everyday activities without pain, like brushing your teeth or lifting a cup, you may want to speak with an orthopedic surgeon about your condition.
Rarely do our elbow specialists recommend surgery, but patients who fail to benefit from conservative treatments may be surgical candidates. Our elbow surgeons will carefully evaluate any elbow condition and make an appropriate treatment recommendation.
Common elbow conditions and treatments:
- Bicep Tendon Tear at Elbow
- Golfer's Elbow
- Tennis Elbow
- Pitcher's Elbow
- Elbow Spurs and Bone Fragments
- Radial Tunnel Syndrome
- Elbow Instability
- Elbow Bursitis
- Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
- Elbow Arthroscopy
Visit our patient education library to learn more about elbow problems and injuries.