The elbow is a complicated hinged joint consisting of three bones: the humerus, ulna, and radius. At the ends of these bones is a bit of cartilage, which helps the bones to slide easily against each other.
We use our arms and elbows hundreds of times during the day, so it’s no surprise there are 14 likely sources for your recurring elbow pain.
Diseases That Can Cause Recurring Elbow Pain
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory joint disorder. The immune system attacks healthy parts of our body like the lining of the elbow joint causing painful swelling, bone damage, and sometimes bone deformity.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. This causes the cartilage to break down and become brittle. As the bones rub together, it cause painful inflammation and stiffness.
Osteochondritis Dissecans is a unique condition that occurs mostly in children and adolescents. Part of a bone dies without proper blood flow, leading pieces of the bone and cartilage to potentially break apart and cause significant pain and loss of motion. This disease is more common in the knee, but has been known to attack the elbow many instances. If it occurs while a child is young, it may heal on its own. Surgery may be required if there is recurring pain.
Gout occurs when uric acid builds up, turns to crystals, and settles in the elbow causing severe pain.
Lupus is an auto-immune disease wherein the individual’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy parts of the body. This often includes both organs and joints.
Lyme disease is carried by ticks and if bitten, humans will become infected. This condition often causes dysfunctions of the nervous system and joints. It is vital to be diagnosed early so treatment can commence before too much damage is done.
Recurring Elbow Pain from Overuse
Overuse is also known as microtrauma.
Bursitis is an inflammation of the fluid-filled bursa sac that exists between the collarbone and head of the humerus. This sac helps to cushion the bones, muscles, and tendons near a joint. This type of inflammation is usually due to overuse and repetitive motions, which result in swelling and pain.
Tennis elbow is named after the numerous tennis players who develop recurring pain from performing the same motions over and over with their arm and wrist. Plumbers, butchers, painters, and carpenters can also suffer from this elbow pain located on the outside of the joint.
Golfer’s elbow is similar to tennis elbow, but the pain is located on the inside of the elbow, and can spread to the forearm or to the wrist. Anyone who clenches their fingers or overuses their wrist can develop golfer’s elbow. Both tennis and golfer elbows are a form of tendonitis.
Trapped nerves are similar to carpal tunnel syndrome where certain nerves become squeezed causing burning and numbness in the joint.
Stress fractures occur mostly during contact sports. It is a crack in one of the bones of the elbow caused by overuse. This condition is especially common in baseball pitchers.
Recurring Elbow Pain Caused by Injuries
Dislocations occur when bones become knocked out of place, which can happen after a fall or other injury. The elbow is the second most common dislocated joint after the shoulder in adults. It also happens to be the most common dislocation in children. A toddler’s dislocation is known as “nursemaid’s elbow” and can happen when an adult swings a child by the forearm.
Strains occur when muscles get stretched or torn from too much pressure on the muscles. Lifting heavy objects or overuse in sports can cause strains.
Sprains occur when ligaments are torn or stretched. Athletes may get sprains from throwing balls and using racquets
Although elbow pain is a common condition, don’t wait to seek care. Contact Carrollton Orthopaedics at (770) 834-0873 to see what treatment options may work best for you, and do so immediately if you experience a fever along with your elbow pain.