Fundamentally a hinge joint, your elbows are part of a complex joint system capable of remarkable rotation and precision movement. Any complex system comes with vulnerabilities, and elbow overuse is one of the most common sources of injury. When these stem from daily activities like job duties or sports participation, pain from these injuries can become chronic.
The surgeons at Bahri Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Clinic specialize in diagnosing and treating elbow pain, offering you the finest orthopedic care in the Jacksonville area. We’re your first call when you’re suffering from elbow joint problems. Let’s look at some of the common causes of chronic elbow pain.
Treating elbow pain
When you first notice discomfort or pain in your elbow, it often responds well to home care, provided you can rest from the activities that cause repetitive strain. The RICE protocol is a simple and easy treatment plan that’s the first line of defense for joint pain.
- Rest: stop regular tasks and isolate your elbow in a comfortable position
- Ice: use cold packs in 15-minute sessions several times a day to reduce pain and swelling
- Compress: elastic compression bandages, moderately tight, control swelling
- Elevate: raise your elbow above the height of your heart to encourage drainage
Over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) can also help reduce inflammation while moderating pain. When these conservative treatments produce no results, or your pain lasts three months or longer, you may be diagnosed with a chronic elbow condition.
Common causes of chronic elbow pain
Because of the complexity of the elbow joint system, the pain you feel may depend on the type of motion that causes joint irritation. Different activities stress different tissues.
The common name for medial epicondylitis, golfer’s elbow, is a specific form of tendonitis. Symptoms usually start with discomfort or pain at the inner elbow, radiating up and down your arm and forearm as the condition worsens.
This chronic pain problem starts outside the elbow, another issue tracing back to tendonitis but involving different tendons. The medical name for it is lateral epicondylitis. While golfer’s and tennis elbow take their names from the sport, you don’t need to be a participant to suffer from these tendon inflammations.
The elbow features a fluid-filled sac called a bursa. It acts as a shock absorber and cushion for the joint. Repetitive motion or infection can cause inflammation of the bursa, causing pain as it swells. Bursitis can be challenging to clear up, as it sometimes requires long periods of rest and immobilization before showing improvement.
Repetitive motions can sometimes introduce tiny cracks in bones, called stress fractures. These can be painful and slow to heal too.
Though it’s more common in other joints, your elbows aren’t immune to the effects of arthritis. Osteoarthritis is a wear-and-tear condition, while rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. While osteoarthritis is the most common form of the disease, rheumatoid arthritis occurs more often in the elbow.
When home care fails to clear your elbow pain, visit Bahri Orthopedics & Sports Medicine. You can book an appointment online or by calling our nearest office directly. No matter the cause, we have a solution for your symptoms, so set up your consultation today.