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Elbow Pain


The elbow is a hinge and pivot joint that allows for bending, extension, and rotation the arm. It connects the humerus to the radius and ulna with ligaments, tendons, and muscles. Surprisingly, over 12 muscles cross over the elbow beside the bicep and triceps. The two bones of the forearm create a hinge by fitting into the upper arm bone that is attached by tendons. The large bump behind the elbow joint (Olecranon or "funny bone") forms the bony point of the elbow and connects with the triceps muscle.

Most people experience some form of an elbow injury. It might have been minor, like the numbness or pain of bumping your "funny bone", or it could be a more serious injury from sustained overuse, like bursitis. Injuries from contact sports or repetitive work related tasks are usually the cause of these more serious elbow ailments.

Acute injuries can be sudden and severe.They can be caused by a direct blow, penetrating injury, fall, or by twisting, jamming, or bending a limb abnormally. Bruising and swelling usually develops from the injury, along with elbow pain. Fractures and dislocations, muscle strains, sprain, and injuries to joints and ligaments are some types of acute elbow injuries.

When too much stress is placed on the elbow joint or muscle tissues, a more serious type of elbow injury occurs. Bursitis is the inflammation of the bursa, a fluid filled sac between joints. When the bursa inflames, your elbow will swell and ache. Olecranon bursitis appears as swelling in the "funny bone". In traumatic cases you will notice redness due to the inflammation or an infection. Heat and hardness of the affected area will accompany an infection in the bursa. If an infection is suspected, consult your doctor immediately for testing and treatment. Some people who have been diagnosed with gout or rheumatoid arthritis may be afflicted with olecranon bursitis. A pinched nerve or infection will also cause severe swelling, elbow pain, or other symptoms. A more serious elbow ailment may be osteoarthritis, which is when the cartilage wears down and the bones rub directly against each other.

Epicondylitis, or tennis elbow, is the most common syndrome affecting the muscle and soft tissue of the (Lateral Epicondylitis) elbow and is caused by inflammation of the soft tissues. This is usually a result of overuse or repetitive activities. The overuse may occur while playing tennis, golfing (Medial Epicondylitis), throwing, lifting, swimming, carpentry, or even plumbing. Forearm and elbow pain are common and it is usually aggravated by extension and flexation of the wrist. This can be treated with hot and cold therapy or even an arm support will relieve the pressure.

Ulnar nerve entrapment occurs when the nerve connected to the ulna is pinched. Pain and numbness will extend from the elbow to the little finger and middle of the hand. You may also experience burning or tingling when the elbow is flexed, but nerve tests are needed to confirm the diagnosis. Limiting the mobility of the elbow will decrease the pain but in severe cases, surgery is required to alleviate the pinch.

Chiropractic Care is the most effective treatment because elbow injuries are commonly caused by overuse, displacement, muscle weakness. Limited usage will alleviate the problem. Immobilizing the elbow with a splint will help absorb shock and rest the muscles and tendons. Some doctors will recommend heat therapy to increase circulation and accelerate healing. Cold therapy usually follows as it reduces swelling and pain. Sometimes your chiropractor will use electro-stimulation to increase the healing process between hot and cold treatments. Cortisone injections will alleviate elbow pain and swelling but almost always deteriorates the ligaments after repetitive doses. Another form of treatment is similar to vaccinations where your doctor will inject an "artificial injury" to stimulate the cells to repair themselves. In any case surgery should be the last resort.

In just about every elbow injury, hot and cold therapy along with immobilization of the joint will alleviate the pain (joint pain relief). However, if not treated, the tendons can fray and will eventually detach from the elbow, requiring surgical repair. You should never continue strenuous activities if the pain persists. Instead consult your Chiropractor immediately to determine the cause and best treatment for your own joint pain relief.