Elbow Pain
Stiff Elbow
Stiff Elbow
Olecranon Bursa
Olecranon Bursa

Pain in elbow region can arise from elbow joint or adjoining structures or can radiate from neck or shoulder.

Common soft tissue conditions around elbow are:

  1. Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis): Lateral epicondyle is the outer part of arm bone (humerus) to which extensor muscles of forearm are attached. Swelling of these attachments (usually due to overuse) causes localized pain and tenderness. Pain is aggravated by lifting or bending the arm or grasping even light objects such as a cup of tea. Grip can be impaired (e.g. shaking hands) because of pain. Pain is generally more after exerting the hand. Movements such as gripping, lifting and carrying heavy objects tend to be troublesome. Tennis elbow is generally self limiting as the pain settles down over a period of One year in about 80% patients. Avoidance of overwork and ensuring adequate rest are essential. Use of an elbow strap or brace during work can serve this purpose. Painkillers and local icepacks and ointments can give some relief. Local injection of corticosteroids, though initially painful, can provide longer pain relief. Early pain relief is desirable as this allows commencement of stretching and other exercises followed by strength and endurance program. Treatment failure is usually due to failure to remove the cause of tennis elbow. Nonresponsive disabling symptoms can be treated with surgical measures.
  2. Golfer's Elbow Golfer's Elbow is a similar condition on the inner (medial) side of elbow. Flexor muscles of forearm are attached to medial epicondyle of humerus. Pain, therefore, is on the inner side of elbow and may radiate downwards along forearm and may be associated with some numbness and tingling in this area. Making a fist (e.g. squeezing a ball) or resisted flexion (e.g. pressing fingers against table top) is painful. Treatment is similar to that of tennis elbow.
  3. Olecranon Bursitis Swelling of bursa overlying tip behind elbow (‘student’s elbow’) may cause pain aggravated by pressure. There may be a history of injury to the elbow from behind or repetitive occupational use. Tender swelling is usually clearly demarcated and range of elbow movements is not affected. Needle aspiration of bursa fluid followed by local glucocorticoid injection usually resolves the problem within a week.
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