Why Does My Elbow Hurt? Common Causes of Elbow Pain

Elbow pain is a common complaint that brings patients to medical professionals, and often, there’s confusion around the cause. Two frequent culprits of elbow pain are conditions colloquially known as tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow. Let’s dive deeper into these conditions and understand what they truly entail.

1. What’s in a Name?

  • Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis): Despite its name, this condition doesn’t solely afflict tennis players. In fact, the majority of those diagnosed with tennis elbow have never played the sport in a significant capacity. It pertains to pain on the outer part of the elbow.
  • Golfer’s Elbow (Medial Epicondylitis): Similarly, while this condition derives its name from the sport of golf, many patients diagnosed with golfer’s elbow aren’t avid golfers. It involves pain on the inner side of the elbow.

2. The Root Cause

Ironically, most patients with either of these conditions haven’t engaged in tennis or golf when the pain emerges. These aren’t injuries that happen suddenly due to an isolated event. Instead, they are often the result of repetitive use – activities done over and over again that place consistent strain on the elbow joint. Over time, these repetitive motions can lead to inflammation, pain, and dysfunction.

3. Recognizing the Symptoms

By the time a patient arrives at a doctor’s office, they’ve usually experienced a gradual increase in both the severity of their pain and the associated dysfunction. It’s crucial to understand that, while sports might not always be the direct cause, the consistent overuse and repetition in many daily activities can still lead to these conditions.

4. Treating Elbow Pain

Patients, understandably, desire a quick fix. They want to return to their regular activities without pain or limitation. While medical professionals aim to rehab patients and restore their normal function as quickly as possible, it’s essential to realize that these injuries can be stubborn. Recovery can sometimes be a longer process than hoped for, with the condition being persistent and lingering.

In Conclusion

If you or someone you know is experiencing elbow pain, understanding the potential causes and acknowledging the importance of proper treatment is crucial. While the names ‘tennis elbow’ and ‘golfer’s elbow’ might hint at sports-related injuries, in reality, they often arise from the repetitive tasks of daily life.

With patience, proper medical advice, and consistent care, recovery and relief from pain are achievable.

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Dr. Kyle McClintock

Dr. Kyle McClintock, an Orthopedic Surgeon with practices in Roseville and Folsom, specializes in the shoulder and elbow, aiding patients in resuming their daily activities.

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