The Elbow Joint Explained
Like the joints in your fingers the elbow is considered a hinge joint, which means that it allows for motion forward and back (flexion and extension) with very minimal twisting. The elbow joins together three bones, the humerus in the upper arm and the radius and ulna in the lower arm. The funny bone in your elbow is a large bony projection from the ulna called the olecranon. A membrane surrounds the entire joint with ligaments joining the three bones together. Two tendons, which attach the bones in your elbow to your muscle, are the primary facilitators or joint movement.
Potential Causes of Elbow Pain
There are quite a few reasons for pain to be occurring in your elbow. Sudden injury, repetitive motion, infections, inflammation, and diseases are all common causes of pain to the elbow.
Injuries can include fractures to the joint, sprains, strains, dislocation, and torn ligaments. Another potential injury related condition, called osteochondritis dissecans, occurs when a small piece of cartilage and bone is separated causing the potential for the elbow to lock in place. Elbow injuries usually occur following a sudden trauma, like hyperextension or impacts, as opposed to repetitive motion injuries and syndromes.
Infections In The Elbow
An infection can occur spontaneously but also may be seen after a surgery or infection elsewhere in the body. Of course an untreated cut or break in the skin near the elbow can also lead to an infection. An infection can cause other issues, namely inflammation, to manifest
Golfers elbow and tennis elbow are two common repetitive motion syndromes that occur in the elbows of adults. Pitchers elbow is another repetitive motion injury that usually only affects growing kids that take part in sports that require throwing, like baseball.
Usually an inflammation in the elbow is secondary to another issue. Disease, injury or infection can all cause inflammation in the elbow. The most common inflammations are bursitis, an inflammation in a small sac of fluid near the olecranon, and tendinitis, irritation of one of the tendons.
Rheumatic diseases are usually the culprits when a disease is causing elbow pain. Arthritis is commonly seen in the elbows of individuals who already are dealing with rheumatoid arthritis. Wear and tear on the joint can cause osteoarthritis. Both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis can cause mild to sever pain in the elbow.
When To Visit A Physician
If you have any of the below symptoms, or have any other concerns about your elbow, please make an appointment with an IBJI orthopedic physician today.
The specific symptoms that signal the need to immediately schedule a visit with one of our doctors are:
- The pain is ongoing without relief
- A direct injury to the elbow preceded the pain
- You suspect tendinitis or infection
- The elbow is unusable
- There is redness and swelling in the elbow
- You experience a fever
- Your elbow is deformed
- The pain is sudden and unbearable
- Anytime your child has elbow pain
The Illinois Bone and Joint Institutes doctors are the right choice for help with any kind of chronic or orthopedic pain relief. Call and make an appointment today
This information is not intended to provide advise or treatment for a specific situation. Consult your physician and medical team for information and treatment plans on your specific condition(s).