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Why does my elbow hurt?

Male tennis player serving When it comes to elbow injuries, most injuries are due to overuse and not an accident or trauma to the arm. Over time, the repetitive nature of certain sports and activities such as golf and tennis can cause inflammation and breakdown of the elbow joint. In other cases, constant pressure on the elbows can lead to conditions known as bursitis. Read on for the most common causes of elbow injuries and treatment options


If you suffer an elbow injury, you will have pain or swelling in your elbow joint. This pain can radiate down the forearm, and you may experience weakness in the arm or hand. Patients often report feeling instability in the elbow joint and stiffness and discomfort when moving the elbow or forearm.

Causes and Treatments

Tennis elbow is a common cause of elbow injury. When you overuse the forearm muscles during tennis, swimming and certain lines of work, you will experience pain on the outer part of the elbow. Compression armbands can help, but physical therapy and other exercises can help reduce the inflammation. 

With golfer’s elbow, sufferers experience pain on the inner side of the elbow. The tendon is inflamed from repetitive motions such as when golfing. Usually stretching exercises, rest and anti-inflammatory medication is all that’s needed. 

Cubital tunnel syndrome occurs when stretching or pressure on the ulnar nerve that runs through the elbow down the arm creates pain when you perform grasping motions such as shaking hands. A brace while sleeping can help. Anti-inflammatory medication and physical therapy are often indicated. In severe cases, you may need corticosteroid injections. 

Bursitis happens when the fluid-filled olecranon bursa becomes so inflamed that more fluid accumulated in the sac and causes pain. Wearing elbow pads and taking anti-inflammatory medications can help reduce the accumulation of fluids. The sac of fluid may need to be drained and a corticosteroid injected to reduce the pain. 

If you are dealing with elbow pain and are in need of diagnosis and treatment options, call (219) 795-3360 and schedule an appointment. 

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