There are many different types of injuries that can cause elbow pain in adults. Symptoms of these injuries include swelling, inflammation, and of course, pain. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, read on to find the possible cause.
The elbow joint is composed of bone, fluid, ligaments, and cartilage. Tendons and muscles aid in the movement of the joint. If the structures of the elbow become hurt or are impacted by disease, issues with the elbow will develop.
In this guide, you will be introduced to the 10 most common elbow issues among adults. While often considered troublesome, the good news is, there are many treatments and therapies that may help. The most productive treatment for all elbow issues is physical therapy.
1. Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
The first elbow issue that may impact adults is identified as “cubital tunnel syndrome.” This is a form of neuropathy that impacts the ulnar nerve. It occurs when the ulnar nerve is compressed near the elbow.
Symptoms include shooting pain, tingling, and numbness in the medial region of the forearm. It typically involves symptoms that impact the fourth and fifth fingers of the hand.
2. Elbow Bursitis (Olecranon)
The olecranon bursa is a part of the tip of the elbow, which is identified as the “olecranon”. This is a small, thin sac that is filled with fluid. The fluid aids in allowing the soft tissues of the area to move in an unobstructed manner over the underlying bone that is present. This particular bursa is flat. If it becomes irritated and/or inflamed, larger amounts of fluid become present. This results in the development of bursitis. The most common causes of this elbow issue include trauma, pressure, infection, and certain medical conditions, such as gout.
The most common symptoms associated with elbow bursitis are swelling, pain, redness, and warmth to the touch.
If the bursa becomes infected and that infection is not treated immediately, it could spread. In most instances, it will spread to other areas of the arm. In the worst case, it will spread to the bloodstream. This could result in a serious illness. If redness and warmth are experienced, immediate medical care should be sought.
3. Elbow Dislocation
A dislocation of the elbow occurs when the surfaces of the joint become separated. A partial or a complete dislocation may occur. A dislocation stems from trauma. In most cases, a fall is to blame.
If a person lands on a hand that is outstretched, the force is sent up to the elbow and a turning motion occurs. This pushes the elbow directly from the socket. This is extremely painful and medical intervention is necessary.
4. Elbow Fracture
An elbow fracture occurs when the bony tip area of the elbow experiences a break. This tip is called the “ulna”. It is one of the three bones that are part of the joint of the elbow.
If a direct blow occurs or a fall is experienced that puts pressure on the elbow tip, a fracture may occur. It is a very painful experience that requires immediate medical attention.
5. Golfer’s Elbow
Golfer’s elbow is a type of condition that results in pain where the tendons of the muscles of the forearm attach to the bony-based bump that is located on the inside area of the elbow. This is similar to tennis elbow, which happens on the outside region of the elbow. While common among those that golf, it is not limited to those that play golf.
Pain experienced from this issue may impact both the forearm and the wrist.
6. Osteochondritis Dissecans
Osteochondritis dissecans is a type of joint condition where the cartilage associated with a joint experiences death because there is a lack of blood flow to that cartilage. Once the die-out occurs, the cartilage and even the bone may actually break loose.
This results in limited or hindered mobility of the joint and typically results in severe pain.
Symptoms include decreased range of motion, swelling, popping and/or locking joints, weakness of the joint, pain, tenderness, and the inability to straighten the limb.
7. Repetitive Motion Disorder
A repetitive motion disorder is a type of muscular condition that develops due to repeated motions that are engaged in at work, in daily activities, or in pursuing hobbies. They may occur in many areas of the body, including the elbow.
When experienced, the symptoms include tingling, numbness, pain, loss of flexibility, decreased strength, swelling, tenderness, and redness.
8. Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic and progressive disease that stems from an immune system that is overactive. When the small joints of the body are affected, the condition typically impacts the elbow. An immune malfunction occurs that stimulates antibody production that – in turn – attacks the lining of the joints in the elbow. When the elbow is impacted, it is typically symmetrical and impacts both the left arm and the right arm.
9. Tennis Elbow
Tennis elbow is a painful condition that is caused by overuse of the elbow. It involves micro-based tears that occur in the tendons that connect the muscles located on the outside of the elbow to the muscles of the forearm. This mostly occurs among individuals that engage in activities that involve repetitive motions.
The symptoms include pain and extreme tenderness in the outer region of the elbow. While common among tennis players, it is not isolated to those that engage in the sport.
10. Ulnar Nerve Entrapment at Elbow
Ulnar nerve entrapment at the elbow area is common among adults. This typically stems from repetitive levels of compression or pressure. Many may develop the condition while leaning on the elbows or when engaging in a prolonged level of elbow flexion. It may also develop as a result of swelling, trauma, fractures, vascular problems, and bone issues.
If you suffer from any of the above elbow issues, one of the best treatments is physical therapy. Now, there are certain issues that must be dealt with by a doctor, initially. These include the development of an infection, a dislocation, a fracture, breakage, and similar issues. Once you receive medical attention, you may inquire as to whether or not you are a good candidate for physical therapy treatment. Once approved, you may initiate physical therapy in order to experience relief from the symptoms you are experiencing.
We here at Back to Motion Physical Therapy have a team that specializes in the treatment of various elbow issues. We treat individuals of all ages, and backgrounds, and with various problems. If you are suffering from the symptoms associated with an elbow issue, we encourage you to contact us today. In addition to standard therapy services, we offer dry needling, vestibular therapy, balance training, custom orthotics, and more!
If you want to set up an appointment, you may contact us directly. On our website, we have a new client packet, information on insurance and payments, our HIPPA notice, and even a store where you may obtain various types of items, such as BioFreeze, cold packs, and splints. If you are ready to transition from where you are to where you want to be – in terms of comfort – we here at Back to Motion Physical Therapy are standing by to assist you. Call us now at: 303-832-5577