5 Conditions That Cause Chronic Elbow Pain

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5 Conditions That Cause Chronic Elbow Pain

Are you a golfer or a tennis player? You may be familiar with how repeated motion affects your elbow. Unlike other joints that often experience wear-and-tear injuries, your elbow is more vulnerable to repetitive strain.

Some joints in the body are hinged, while others are ball-and-socket. Your elbow is both. The primary motion seems to be that of a simple hinge, allowing your arm to bend in half. But the elbow also permits the rotation of your forearm and hand. 

Chronic pain in the elbow may stem from a variety of sources. The most common reason is inflammation of the tissues due to repetitive strain injuries. Sports participation and hobbies that require frequent motion of the elbow can irritate the soft tissues of the joint, resulting in pain. The elbow is less likely to experience osteoarthritis than joints like the hips and knees. 

When rest and home care aren’t enough to ease your elbow pain, contact Kansas City Orthopedic Alliance and Dr. Scott Ellsworth for diagnosis and treatment, regardless of the underlying cause. Dr. Ellsworth is one of only a few members of the American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons organization in the Kansas City, Missouri, area.

Defining chronic pain

Your elbows can experience sudden trauma from a sudden event like an accident, fall, or impact. These are acute injuries by medical definition. The pain usually resolves as the injury heals. 

Chronic pain is long-lasting. In the elbow, it’s typically due to a problem with soft tissue, the muscles, ligaments, tendons, or cartilage that support the bones of the joint. 

Repeated motions can irritate areas of soft tissue, causing persistent pain. The location and intensity of the pain depend on the irritated tissue. Here are five of the most common conditions that cause chronic elbow pain. 

1. Tennis elbow

When tendons on the outside of the elbow become irritated, you could experience a burning pain sensation, as well as problems with your grip. Medically, it’s called lateral epicondylitis, and you don’t need to play tennis to experience it. Factory workers, carpenters, and cooks are a few of the occupations that often experience tennis elbow. 

2. Golfer’s elbow

This affects the elbow’s inner tendons. Similar to tennis elbow, the condition starts with motion, like that of the downward part of a golf swing. Using a hammer can also trigger this condition. It usually responds well to rest and ice. 

3. Little League elbow

This repetitive strain injury affects the growth plate inside the elbow. It typically affects young baseball players when they overstress their arms when pitching or throwing. The growth plate is a weak spot in the elbows of growing children. 

4. Medial ulnar collateral ligament (MUCL)

Connecting the upper and lower bones of the arm, the MUCL is vulnerable to repeated overhead motions, whether from sports participation or occupational movements. 

5. Osteochondritis dissecans 

Pieces of bone and cartilage can break loose and float around inside the elbow. Typically, you’ll have tenderness or pain on the outside of the elbow. Extending your arm may be difficult, or you could feel as though your elbow locks. 

When rest doesn’t help your chronic elbow pain, book an appointment with Dr. Ellsworth online or over the phone. You’ll get the treatment you need to get your elbows back to work or into the game. Schedule your visit now.