Pain in or around the elbow can have many different causes and can cause different types of pain, from reduced grip strength to a stabbing sensation. In this article we look at symptoms, causes and treatment options.
Common conditions and causes of elbow pain
Elbow pain is a problem that affects individuals of all ages and occupations. It can significantly impact and hinder daily activities at home and at work. Understanding some of the common causes of elbow pain is crucial for accurate diagnosis and effective treatment. At Skelian in Cheltenham, we can help diagnose the cause of your elbow pain, to then work out an effective treatment or management plan for the condition. We do this by assessing your elbow with orthopaedic tests or referral for diagnostic imaging.
Lateral epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow)
Lateral epicondylitis or “Tennis elbow”, commonly known as tennis elbow, is a common cause of elbow pain. It involves inflammation of the tendons that attach to the lateral epicondyle, the bony prominence on the outer side of the elbow. Repetitive activities involving the wrist extensor muscles, such as gripping or twisting motions, can lead to microtears and degenerative changes in the tendons, resulting in pain and tenderness. Symptoms include pain during activities involving the affected arm and weakness in grip strength. Treatment options include rest, manual therapy, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and in severe cases, corticosteroid injections (provided by our specialist physiotherapist) or surgery.
Medial epicondylitis (Golfer’s Elbow)
Medial epicondylitis, also known as golfer’s elbow, is another common cause of elbow pain. It involves inflammation of the tendons that attach to the medial epicondyle, the bony prominence on the inner side of the elbow. Overuse or repetitive activities that stress the wrist flexor muscles, such as swinging a golf club or throwing a ball, can lead to microtears and subsequent inflammation. Symptoms include pain and tenderness on the inner side of the elbow, which may radiate down the forearm. Treatment options for golfer’s elbow include rest, physical therapy, NSAIDs, and, in some cases, corticosteroid injections (provided by our specialist physiotherapist) or surgery.
Olecranon bursitis is caused by inflammation of the bursa, which is a small sac of fluid that cushions and reduces friction between the olecranon (the bony tip of the elbow) and the skin. Trauma, repetitive pressure, or infection can cause the bursa to become inflamed, leading to pain, swelling, and tenderness at the back of the elbow. Conservative treatment includes rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE therapy), along with the use of NSAIDs. If an infection is present, you will be referred back to your GP for possible antibiotics, and in chronic or severe cases, bursa aspiration (drawing the fluid out of the elbow, which can be done by our specialist physiotherapist at Skelian) or surgery may be considered.
Ulnar Nerve Compression (Cubital tunnel syndrome)
Ulnar nerve compression, also known as cubital tunnel syndrome, occurs when the ulnar nerve, which runs along the inner side of the elbow, becomes compressed or irritated. Prolonged pressure on the ulnar nerve, as may occur during activities involving repeated bending of the elbow or leaning on the elbow for extended periods, can cause pain, numbness, and tingling sensations in the forearm and hand. Management of this condition includes rest, ice, stretching and/or nerve gliding (flossing) exercises, NSAIDs and possibly protective padding around the area.
Elbow fractures are a significant cause of elbow pain, particularly among children and individuals involved in high-impact activities. Fractures can occur in various parts of the elbow, including the distal humerus (lower end of the upper arm bone), the olecranon, or the radial head. Common symptoms include severe pain, swelling, bruising, and limited range of motion. If you present yourself to Skelian with a fracture we will refer you to seek medical attention. Treatment options depend on the type and severity of the fracture, ranging from immobilisation with a cast or splint to surgical intervention.
Treatment and diagnostic options
At Skelian, we see a variety of different conditions, elbow pain is another common complaint that we see. There are a lot of different causes of elbow pain and at Skelian we believe that it is important to get an accurate diagnosis first so that a treatment or management plan can be made. In some cases we may need to refer you for further diagnostic investigation such a MRI or ultrasound, to make sure you receive the care you need for your condition.
Some of our treatment options are
Frequently Asked Questions
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Chiropractic Follow up treatment – £44
Physiotherapy consultation – £65
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Follow up Sports therapy appointment – £35
Massage (1 hour) – £54