Elbow Pain: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

In this short video, Airrosti’s Anthony Pavlich, PT, DPT, discusses the causes, symptoms, and treatment methods for elbow pain. He also discusses Airrosti’s approach to treating elbow injuries and how we allow our patients to stay active during treatment.

The elbow is a hinge joint that allows you to extend and flex your forearm and rotate your hand and forearm. It is made up of three long bones that meet in the middle portion of the arm. The bone of the upper arm (humerus) meets the inner bone of the forearm (ulna) and the outer bone of the forearm (radius) to form a hinge joint.

Elbow Pain Causes

man holding his elbow in pain

Elbow pain is often caused by overuse injuries. Many sports, hobbies, and jobs require repetitive hand, wrist, or arm movements that cause wear and tear damage. The elbow joint is also susceptible to arthritic pains due to years of wear and tear.


A common condition that causes elbow pain in adults is tendonitis. This injury affects the tendons, which are soft tissues that attach muscle to bone. Some activities that may cause or worsen tendonitis symptoms include:

  • Using a screwdriver or other tools
  • Gardening
  • Typing on a keyboard
  • Playing competitive sports

People who play racquet sports are most likely to injure the tendons on the outside of the elbow. This condition is commonly called tennis elbow. Golfers and baseball players are more likely to injure the tendons on the inside of the elbow. This injury is known as golfer’s elbow.

Signs of an Elbow Injury

Young Woman Weightraining at the Gym

Injuries to the elbow can range from mild to severe. Depending on the cause, symptoms can appear suddenly or develop over time. Common signs of an elbow injury include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Arm or grip weakness
  • Stiffness or reduced range of motion
  • Numbness or tingling sensations that may radiate to the hands and fingers

Severe injuries such as a fracture may feature additional symptoms like severe pain, bruising, and difficulty moving your arm or bending the elbow and will need immediate medical attention.

traditional elbow pain treatment

Your doctor may diagnose your elbow injury through physical tests, x-rays, CT scans, EMGs, or MRIs. In some cases, your doctor may order a biopsy of the bursa fluid. Treatment varies depending on the elbow disorder and symptoms you experience. Most elbow disorders require conservative treatment. Surgery may be a last resort if your symptoms don’t improve. Your traditional treatment options will typically include ice, rest, NSAIDs (over-the-counter painkillers), bracing or immobilization, steroid injections, elbow padding, and/or several weeks of physical therapy.

Airrosti Elbow Pain Diagnosis, Treatment, and Pain Relief

Physical therapist examining a patient's arm during a physio session

Airrosti helps patients relieve elbow pain at the source, without the use of pain medication, injections, or surgery. Our effective treatment for elbow pain can help resolve your injury in as few as three visits, based on patient-reported outcomes. You’ll also receive individualized at-home exercises you can use to further speed your recovery and help prevent injury recurrence.

Elbow pain can restrict your mobility and keep you away from the activities you love most. Schedule an appointment with your Airrosti provider today to jumpstart your recovery.

Reviewed by Casey Crisp, Doctor of Chiropractic

Disclaimer: Always consult with your doctor before starting any exercise program. If you experience any numbness, tingling or reproduction of your symptoms, please contact your doctor.

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