The elbow is one of the most-used joints in the body. It helps you swing, throw, lift and even move your hand. It is an area prone to injury, particularly in sports.
Anatomy of the elbow
The elbow is a hinge joint consisting of the humerus, ulnar and radius. The surrounding muscles, tendons and ligaments allow the joint to load.
This joint is responsible for supination and pronation of your hand, and bending and straightening your arm to around 180 degrees.
The elbow is a synovial hinge joint. This means that it has a fluid-filled capsule that prevents friction, nourishes the joint and allows for greater movement.
The muscles around the elbow joint include:
- Wrist extensors
- Wrist flexors
What causes elbow pain?
The elbow is a joint that can easily be overused at work or in our hobbies. Overuse can lead to injury. However, it isn’t only overuse that can affect the elbow joint: breaks, sprains, disease, and wear and tear can also cause pain in the elbow.
The elbow joint is complex, consisting of bones, soft tissues, cartilage, ligaments, and fluid. Any one of these can come to harm and cause pain.
To get to the source of the pain, you will need to have an assessment to examine the elbow joint.
What can help elbow pain?
The treatment of elbow pain will depend on the reason for it. Some conditions will be solved by specific exercises, whereas others may require surgery as a long-term solution.
Discuss pain medication with your GP or pharmacist. They may also suggest rest.
How to look after your elbow
You can look after your elbow by stretching before and after exercise, using proper technique in sports, and staying active to reduce stiffness.
Look after your elbow joint by training the muscles surrounding it to keep them strong and well-balanced.
Common elbow complaints:
- Golfer’s elbow
- Tennis elbow
- Flexor Tendinitis
- Ulnar Collateral Ligament (UCL) Injury
- Valgus Extension Overload (VEO)
- Olecranon Stress Fracture
- Ulnar Neuritis
Osteoarthritis, dislocation, sprains, strains and bursitis can also cause elbow pain.
Common types of elbow surgery
When pain in the elbow is severe, if hands and arms are numb, or if the range of motion is an issue, surgery could be an option.
Elbow surgery can help conditions such as tennis elbow, diseased muscle affecting the elbow, torn UCL and ulnar neuritis relief.
Common types of elbow surgery include:
- Open Elbow Surgery
- UCL Reconstruction
- Arthroscopic Elbow Surgery
- Ulnar Nerve Anterior Transposition
You can find out more about these surgeries and what’s involved by visiting our Patient Resource Centre.