Elbows, like knees, are joints made to rotate and flex, and support our weight when needed. However, repetitive action, too much pressure, and aging can hurt our knees and elbows. They will hurt when we lean into them or when we engage in activities that put too much strain on them. The most common cases of elbow pain are caused by tennis elbow, golfer elbow, and bursitis.

Tennis Elbow

If you feel pain that starts from the outside of the upper forearm just below the bend of the elbow and radiates down the arms toward the wrist, then you are suffering from tennis elbow. This elbow pain is often felt when lifting or bending the arm when grasping even light objects such as a coffee cup.

Tennis elbow is not limited to tennis players only. It is called that because playing tennis often results to this kind of elbow pain. The sport requires repeated flexing and rotation of the arm from shoulder to wrist. These movements can cause tiny tears in parts of the tendon and muscle. After the first tear has healed, it often tears again, and this repeated tearing leads to bleeding in the muscle. Rough tissue and calcium deposits form, and collagen, a protein, leaks out from around the injured areas, which causes inflammation. The pressure from swelling cuts off the blood flow and pinches the radial nerve, one of the major nerves controlling muscles in the arm and hand.

Elbow Pain Why Does My Elbow Hurt?

Because of the inflamed muscles, tendons and ligaments, there is difficulty extending the forearm fully. This inflammation can typically last for 6 to 12 weeks. However, because tendons do not receive the same amount of oxygen and blood that muscles do, they heal more slowly. Because of this slow healing process, the elbow pain can last forĀ  as little as 3 weeks or as long as several years

Tennis elbow may be a form of tendonitis, which is often the case, but if the muscles and bones of the elbow joint are also involved, then it is epicondylitis. If you see swelling, which is almost never a symptom of tennis elbow, you may want to check other possible conditions, such as arthritis, infection, gout or a tumor.

Golfer’s Elbow

Golfer’s elbow is a bit similar to tennis elbow, but the pain radiates from a different area of the elbow. The pain and tenderness are felt on or around the bony prominence, and the pain extends through the flexor muscle under the forearm.

Force placed on the flexor muscles during a golf swing pulls on the tendons. As the wrist is flexed or the hand made to grip, the muscles tense and pull against the tendons. Overuse of those muscles from repetitive golf or tennis swings leads to inflammation and pain around the elbow joint.

Bursitis

If you feel pain directly on the back of your elbow joint, rather than down the outside of your arm, you may have bursitis, which is caused when lubricating sacs in the joint become inflamed. This is caused by constant rubbing of the tendon over the bone with high amounts of repetitive arm, shoulder, hip, knee and ankle motion.

Treatments for Elbow Pain

For immediate relief, you can do the following: Rest the arm until the pain disappears, then massage the area to relieve stress and tension in the muscles. Exercise to strengthen the area and prevent further injury. If you must go back to doing whatever caused the problem in the first place, you must remember to warm up your arm for at least 5 to 10 minutes with gentle stretching and movement before starting any activity. And don’t forget to take frequent breaks.

Conventional medicine offers an assortment of treatments for elbow pain, from drug injections to surgery, but the pain will never go away completely unless you stop stressing the joint. Without adequate rest, you’ll damage your tendons and muscles further and worsen the elbow pain.

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