Leading Causes of Elbow Pain

Our elbows take a lot of abuse, so it’s not surprising that elbow disorders are pretty common. However, because they can involve numerous parts of your elbow joint, there could be numerous things to blame. That’s where we come in.

After spending more than two decades practicing orthopedic medicine, Thomas F. Saylor, MD, can diagnose and treat whatever elbow pain is slowing you down. Here are a few common elbow problems Dr. Saylor sees regularly at Orthopaedic Care Specialists in North Palm Beach, Florida.

Strains and sprains

These injuries can impact any ligament in your elbow joint, and they can range from stretched ligaments to partial and complete tears. You can experience a ligament strain or sprain because of trauma or repeated stress. When you have this sort of elbow injury, you may notice pain and swelling along with joint instability and reduced range of motion.

Dislocations and fractures

Whether you fall or sustain elbow trauma during a car accident, injuries to the elbow can lead to dislocations or fractures. If you have a dislocated bone, it moves out of its proper position. A fracture describes a crack or break in the bone itself.

These injuries usually cause pain, loss of movement, and visual changes to the elbow, such as discoloration and swelling.  

Golfer’s elbow

Technically, this condition that affects the inner ligaments of your elbow is known as medial epicondylitis. You experience this type of elbow pain along the inside of your elbow, and moving your wrist often triggers pain.

Contrary to popular belief, however, you don’t have to play golf to experience this condition. Instead, it develops because of repetitive hand motions, such as swinging a hammer, throwing a baseball, or swinging a golf club.

Tennis elbow

What sets this elbow pain apart from golfer’s elbow is its location. Medically known as lateral epicondylitis and lateral elbow tendinopathy, this elbow condition affects the tendons on the outside of your elbow. Additional symptoms seen with tennis elbow include pain or burning on the outer elbow and sometimes problems with your grip.

Like golfer’s elbow, you don’t have to play tennis to develop this condition. Any actions involving similar movements can lead to lateral epicondylitis, including cooking, painting, and plumbing.

Olecranon bursitis

This elbow condition goes by several names, such as draftsman’s elbow, miner’s elbow, and student’s elbow. When you have olecranon bursitis, the small sack of fluid protecting your elbow joint fills with fluid and becomes swollen, irritated, or inflamed.

Causes of olecranon bursitis tend to include elbow trauma, leaning on your elbow for extended periods, infection, or medical conditions, such as arthritis.


This common form of arthritis develops when the cartilage protecting your elbow joint breaks down and becomes damaged. Without this cushioning tissue, you can experience pain, swelling, and grating sensations when bending your elbow. It can also make movement difficult and feel as though your elbow could lock when you bend your arm.

You can develop osteoarthritis because of normal wear and tear on your joints or because of an elbow injury.

Finding relief for elbow pain

If you have elbow pain, Dr. Saylor can diagnose your condition by performing a physical exam, reviewing your medical history, and using imaging tests, such as X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs. In some cases, he could also take a sample of bursa fluid for screening.

After reaching a diagnosis, Dr. Saylor can put together a personalized treatment strategy. Depending on the cause of your pain, therapies could include rest, immobilization, physical therapy, or surgery. Regarding surgery, he often performs it using minimally invasive arthroscopic techniques. 

If you have elbow pain, Dr. Saylor can help get you well. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with Orthopaedic Care Specialists today.

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