When you smack your elbow just right and feel an explosion of painful sensations, you may say you just hit your funny bone, or in some areas, it is called the crazy bone. Actually, when that happens, it signals that the ulna nerve has been compressed right in the area where it has the least protection. This is only one type of pain that you may experience in your elbow. Generally, it is very temporary. What about other elbow pain that comes and goes, or perhaps lingers and intensifies?
Common Causes of Elbow Pain
There are several reasons why you may experience elbow pain. Identifying the cause of the pain will be obvious in some situations; however, in others it can be elusive. It is important to seek medical attention when you experience pain in your elbow, especially if the cause is not readily apparent. Elbow pain can be caused by:
- A broken arm
- Arthritis (there are many types of arthritis that could cause pain)
- Dislocated elbow
- Golfers elbow
- Osteochondritis dissecans
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Stress fracture
- Tennis elbow
- Throwing injuries
- Trapped nerves
Seeking medical attention should not be relegated to only situations such as a broken arm. Early diagnosis of elbow pain when the source is not clear can prevent further injury or complications. For example, early diagnosis of an arthritic condition can lead to better treatment outcomes. Neglecting to get care can lead to irreparable destruction of the cartilage and trauma to the joint.
Diagnosing Elbow Pain
Finding the cause for your elbow pain could be simple or complex, depending on the circumstances. If you fell and landed on your arm or elbow, you may have a break, but you could have a sprain. A physical examination is the first step in discovering what is happening. Diagnostic radiographs or X-rays may be taken to identify damage to bone structure. A CT scan or MRI may be used if the X-rays are inconclusive. Electromyography (EMG) may also be used to check the muscles and nerves in the area. Sometimes a biopsy of the bursa fluid is necessary.
Treatment for elbow pain is determined by the cause. If you have elbow pain, contact Caliber Pain™ and schedule an appointment with one of our pain management doctors. We can get you back on track doing the things you love to do.