Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Elbow Pain

Your elbow performs many jobs during your life: Every time you lift an object, hug someone, cook a meal, or throw a ball, you use your elbow. When it’s not working properly, it’s time to see the doctor.

Urgently Ortho in Scottsdale, Arizona, covers the gamut of orthopedic injuries and conditions. Leah Brown, MD, and Tammy Penhollow, DO, treat acute injuries and chronic diseases that affect your musculoskeletal system. 

Your elbow is the joint where the bone in your upper arm, the humerus, joins two bones in your forearm, the ulna and radius. Tough tissue called cartilage covers the ends of each bone to protect them from grinding against one another. Ligaments, strong cords of tissue near the bones, help the bones stay in place. Tendons attach your bones to your muscles; they help your elbow reach its full range of motion so you can move it into many different positions. 

Because you use your elbow so much and because it bends in so many directions, it’s susceptible to injury. The following are the major types of injuries and diseases that can cause elbow pain. 

Acute injuries

If you play sports or are involved in a vehicle accident, you could dislocate or fracture your elbow. If your elbow hurts and you don’t get treatment, you may make an undiagnosed fracture worse, and the bone may not heal properly, causing misalignment and limited joint movement. 

You could have a muscle strain or have a sprained ligament from a sudden injury. You may need a sling to protect your elbow while it’s healing. If the sprain is severe, you may need a splint. If you don’t protect your injured elbow, you could damage it further so that an injury that could have healed with conservative treatment now requires surgery. 

Microtrauma/Overuse injuries

Tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow are two overuse injuries of this joint. Both are caused by inflamed tendons that connect muscles to your elbow bones. 

These injuries get their name because they’re a common injury among tennis and golf players who use repetitive motions involving the elbow, arm, and wrist. But anyone with a job or sport that requires these motions, including painters, carpenters, musicians, and others, can develop one of these microtraumas, or overuse injuries. 

If you try to tough it out and don’t seek treatment, the pain you’re experiencing in your elbow moves down your arm into your wrist, weakening your grasp and causing further tissue damage. 

Furthermore, a tendon that’s stretched may eventually rupture, causing you to lose part of your elbow function. Your physician at Urgently Ortho diagnoses your injury and prescribes a course of treatment designed to get you back in the game or back to work safely. 


Elbow pain can also be caused by medical conditions. Osteoarthritis could settle in your elbow joint. Your cartilage may have thinned to the point where the bones are rubbing against one another. 

On the other hand, you may have developed rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. With these conditions, your immune system attacks your tissue, causing pain and swelling in your elbow. Your Urgently Ortho physician works with you to calm your symptoms and help you manage your condition. 

Call Urgently Ortho or request an appointment online to receive expert care of your musculoskeletal needs.

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