Elbow Pain - Causes

Not ready to share? Read other Patient Comments

What caused your elbow pain?

Share your story with others:

MedicineNet appreciates your comment. Your comment may be displayed on the site and will always be published anonymously.Patient Comments FAQs

Enter your Comment

Tell us a bit about your background to make your comments more useful to other MedicineNet users. (Optional)

Screen Name: *

Gender of Patient: Male Female

Age Range of Patient:

I am a: Patient Caregiver

* Screen Name will appear next to the published comment. Please do not include your full name or email address.

By submitting your comment, and other materials (collectively referred to as a "Submission") to MedicineNet, you grant MedicineNet permission to use, copy, transmit, publish, display, edit and modify your Submission in connection with its Web site. MedicineNet will not pay you for your Submission. You represent that you have all rights necessary for MedicineNet to use your Submission as set forth above.

Please keep these guidelines in mind when writing your comment:

  • Please make sure you address the question asked.
  • Due to the overwhelming number of comments received, not all comments will be published.
  • When selecting comments to publish, our staff will choose those that are educational and complement the topic. Please try to stay on topic.
  • Your comment may be edited. We would typically edit comments to make them clearer and more readable. We will remove personal information such as last names, email and web addresses, and other potentially harmful information.
  • We will not notify you if your comment has been published. We suggest that you check back on the topic article regularly.
  • We do not provide medical or healthcare advice, treatment, or diagnosis.

Thank you for participating!

I have read and agree to abide by the MedicineNet Terms and Conditions and the MedicineNet Privacy Policy (required).

To prevent our systems from spam, please complete the following prior to submitting your comment.

Please select the black triangle:

What injuries can cause elbow pain, and what are symptoms and signs of the causes of elbow pain?

Tendinitis (or tendonitis)

  • Lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow): The lateral epicondyle is the outside bony portion of the elbow where large tendons attach to the elbow from the muscles of the forearm. These tendons can be injured, especially with repetitive motions of the forearm, such as using a manual screwdriver, washing windows, or hitting a backhand in tennis play. Tennis elbow then leads to inflammation of the tendons, causing pain over the outside of the elbow, occasionally with warmth and swelling but always with local tenderness. The elbow maintains its full range of motion, as the inner joint is not affected, and the pain can be particularly noticed toward the end of the day. Repeated twisting motions or activities that strain the tendon typically elicit increased pain. These include lifting and throwing. X-rays are usually normal, but if chronic tendinitis has occurred, X-rays can reveal calcium deposits in the tendon or reveal other unforeseen abnormalities of the elbow joint.

    The treatment of lateral epicondylitis may include ice packs, resting the involved elbow, and anti-inflammatory medications. Anti-inflammatory medications typically used include aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as naproxen (Naprosyn), diclofenac (Voltaren), and ibuprofen (Motrin). Bracing the elbow can help. Simple braces for tennis elbow can be found in community pharmacies and athletic goods stores. Local cortisone injections are given for persistent pain. Activity involving the elbow is resumed gradually. Ice application after activity can reduce or prevent recurrent inflammation. Occasionally, supportive straps can prevent reinjury. In severe cases, an orthopedic surgical repair is performed.
  • Medial epicondylitis (golfer's elbow): Medial epicondylitis is inflammation at the point where the tendons of the forearm attach to the bony prominence of the inner elbow. As an example, this tendon can become strained in a golf swing, but many other repetitive motions can injure the tendon. Golfer's elbow is characterized by local pain and tenderness over the inner elbow. The range of motion of the elbow is preserved because the inner joint of the elbow is not affected. Those activities which require twisting or straining the forearm tendon can elicit pain and worsen the condition. X-rays for epicondylitis are usually normal but can indicate calcifications of the tendons if the tendinitis has persisted for extended periods of time.

    The usual treatment involves combinations of ice packs, resting the elbow, and medications including aspirin and other NSAIDs. With severe inflammation, local corticosteroid (cortisone) injections are sometimes given. Using a strap can prevent reinjury. After a gradual rehabilitation exercise program, return to usual activity is best accompanied by ice applications after use. This helps to avoid recurrent inflammation.

Olecranon bursitis

Olecranon bursitis (inflammation of the bursa at the tip of the elbow) can occur from injury or minor trauma as a result of systemic diseases such as gout or rheumatoid arthritis, or it can be due to a local infection. Olecranon bursitis is typically associated with swelling over the tip of the elbow, while range of motion of the inner elbow joint is maintained.


The bones of the elbow can break (fracture) into the elbow joint or adjacent to the elbow joint. Typically, elbow fracture causes sharp pain in the elbow, and X-ray imaging is used to make a diagnosis. Fractures generally require immobilization and casts and can require orthopedic surgery, involving pinning or open joint procedures.


A sprain is a stretch or tear injury to a ligament. One or more ligaments can be injured during a sprain. This might occur when the elbow is hyperextended or simply jammed, such as in a "stiffarm" collision. The severity of the injury will depend on the extent of injury to a single ligament (whether the tear is partial or complete) and the number of ligaments involved. Treatment involves rest, ice, immobilization, compression, and anti-inflammation medications.

Return to Elbow Pain

See what others are saying

Comment from: justpeggy, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: December 23

I fell on a hard surface and broke all three bones in my right arm at the elbow joint. After 3 months, they have determined that I suffer from nonunion. Besides Ibuprofen, I wonder what I could do for the chronic pain. It keeps me from falling asleep, and I wake and have to move my arm about every 30 minutes. The pain is always present, from my fingers up to my shoulder. Even pressing buttons on my TV remote hurts! I still have limited mobility. I am tired of hurting all the time!

Was this comment helpful?Yes
Comment from: Marleyfu, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: April 10

My elbow pain began after performing dumbbell exercises several months ago. The pain occurs whenever I lift something as light as a full drinking glass. It begins above the elbow in the back and extends to below the elbow ion my forearm. Rest hasn't helped nor has light exercise.

Was this comment helpful?Yes


Get the latest health and medical information delivered direct to your inbox!