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4 Common Causes of Elbow Pain

 Elbow pain can slow you down, making even the simplest movements difficult or impossible. Often the result of overuse, elbow pain can be caused by several conditions that cause damage or inflammation of the tendons, ligaments, and bones of this joint. A proper medical examination is the only way to determine what is causing your elbow pain to access effective treatments.

At Crescent City Orthopedics in Metairie Louisiana, our top-notch team of compassionate sports medicine doctors have the tools, skills, and experience to find the cause of your pain and get you the best treatments. We provide a full spectrum of services, including sports medicine, total joint surgery, and general orthopedics. If your elbow pain is acute or persistent, doesn’t improve with rest, or is getting worse, see us. 

The complex elbow joint

Your elbow joint is an intricate part of your body where three of your bones meet: your upper arm bone (humerus) connects with your two forearm bones, the radius and the ulna. A healthy elbow is very flexible, allowing you to carry objects, throw things, and twist and move your arms in many directions. 

In your elbow, you have ligaments, tough bands of tissue that connect the bones, and similar bands of connective tissue called tendons connect your muscles to your bones. A layer of cartilage and fluid-filled sacs called bursa prevent the ends of the bones from rubbing against one another. Any of these parts can be injured, causing you pain and difficulty moving.

Four common causes of elbow pain

Generally, elbow pain is caused by overusing the elbow joint, causing inflammation and pain. Here are some of the most common causes of elbow pain. 

Broken arm

Most people are familiar with broken arms. Known in medical terms as a fracture, any of the bones in the arm can suffer a break. Sometimes the break is severe, and it’s easy to tell because the arm looks crooked. Other fractures are less extreme, and only a diagnostic test such as an x-ray will reveal the exact location of the fracture.  


Your elbow contains four tendons, and tendinitis means that one of the tendons is inflamed, causing you pain. It is usually caused by overuse of the elbow typically in sports, and tendinitis is often named for the sport causing the problem, including tennis elbow, pitcher’s shoulder, and golfer’s elbow.


The bones that meet in your elbow are cushioned from rubbing against each other by a flexible material called cartilage along with small sacs filled with a fluid called bursae. When these bursae become irritated and inflamed, you have bursitis—typically caused by using your elbow too much, causing you to feel stiff, with swelling at your joints.


The layers of flexible cartilage that cushion between your bones can wear down over time, causing your bones to rub against each other, causing pain. This is a degenerative condition known as osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis. It can cause swelling, pain, difficulty moving, and joint instability. 

Treatments for elbow pain

There are many different causes for elbow pain, and the proper treatment depends on an accurate diagnosis of your condition to find the cause of pain. Your doctor examines you, learns about your symptoms, and orders diagnostic testing before arriving at a diagnosis and developing a treatment plan. 

The treatment options may include rest, ice, medication, or surgery as a last resort. Physical therapy may be needed to support you regaining your strength and help prevent possible re-injury. 

Elbow pain can be uncomfortable and debilitating, but you don’t have to suffer. A proper medical examination and diagnostic testing find the source and cause of your pain and allow you to access effective treatment options that will make you feel better.

If you are experiencing elbow pain, or have other joint pain or problems, call our office to set up an appointment.

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