Elbow pain usually isn't serious, but because you use your elbow in so many ways, elbow pain can definitely affect your life. Your elbow is a complex joint that allows you to extend and flex your forearm and rotate your hand and forearm. Most movements are a combination of these actions, and you may sometimes find it difficult to describe what exactly brings on the pain.
Seek emergency care if you have:
- An obvious deformity in your elbow
- A protruding bone
Call your doctor right away if you have:
- Severe pain, swelling and bruising around the joint
- Trouble moving your elbow normally, using your arm or turning your arm from palm up to palm down and vice versa
Schedule an office visit if you have:
- Elbow pain that doesn't improve after several days of home care
- Pain that occurs even when you're not using your arm
- Increasing redness, swelling or pain in the injured area
Most elbow pain improves with simple home treatments, such as:
- Rest. Avoid the activity that caused your injury.
- Ice. Place an ice pack on the sore area for 15 to 20 minutes three times a day.
- Compression. Use a compression bandage to reduce swelling.
- Elevation. Keep your arm elevated to help reduce swelling.
Apr. 09, 2013
- Anderson BC, et al. Evaluation of elbow pain in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Feb. 1, 2013.
- DeLee JC, et al. DeLee & Drez's Orthopaedic Sports Medicine: Principles and Practice. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-1-4160-3143-7..X0001-2--TOP&isbn=978-1-4160-3143-7&uniqId=230100505-57. Accessed Feb. 1, 2013.
- Ferri FF. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2013:5 Books in 1. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2012. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-08373-7..00002-9&isbn=978-0-323-08373-7&about=true&uniqId=343863096-23. Accessed Feb. 1, 2013.
- Seller RH. Differential Diagnosis of Common Complaints. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:309.
- Bursitis and tendinitis. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. http://www.niams.nih.gov/health_info/bursitis/. Accessed Feb. 1, 2013.
- Wilkinson JM (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Feb. 3, 2013.