The elbow is a joint made up of three bones held together by muscles, ligaments and tendons. The three bones in the elbow are the upper arm bone (humerus) and the two bones which make up the forearm (radius and ulna). Each of these bones has cartilage on the end that helps cushion the ends of the bones as they slide against each other and act as shock absorbers. At the bottom of the humerus are two bony bumps. The one on the outside (lateral side) is called the lateral epicondyle, and the one on the inside (medial side) is called the medial epicondyle.
Injuries, overuse and wear and tear on any of these or nerves and tissue will cause elbow pain.
Two of the most common causes of elbow pain are:
- Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis): inflammation of the tendons that join the forearm muscles on the outside of the elbow due to overuse
- Golfer's Elbow (Medial Epicondylitis): damage to the muscles and tendons that control the wrist and fingers, typically in the medial epicondyle, a bony bump on the inside of the elbow where these muscles attach
Other causes of elbow pain include arthritis, dislocations, fractures, sprains (stretching or tearing of ligaments) and strains (stretching or tearing of muscles).
Treatments for Elbow Pain