In addition to fractures and muscle sprains, elbow pain can be caused by:
Sometimes, elbow pain can be caused by nerve impingement in the shoulder or even the neck.
Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) is caused by inflammation of the large tendons on the outer portion of the elbow. Golfer's elbow (medial epicondylitis) involves inflammation of the tendons on the inner portion of the elbow. Both conditions can be caused by overuse, repetitive use and overextension of the joint. Swelling and warmth may also be present. Tennis elbow and golfer's elbow can be treated with corticosteroid injections to help relieve inflammation and promote optimal healing.
The ulnar nerve is a major nerve that passes through the elbow. When the elbow is struck, it's the ulnar nerve that causes the odd sensation known as the “funny bone." As the nerve travels through the elbow joint, it can become compressed or entrapped, causing local tenderness and radiating pain and numbness in the lower arm and hand. Ulnar nerve entrapment can be caused by traumatic injury, repetitive use injuries or changes in the joint structure due to arthritis or other causes.
Some types of elbow pain can be managed with rest and ice, sometimes accompanied by physical therapy to restore range of motion and reduce stiffness in the joint. In many cases, these approaches are ineffective in achieving rapid and long-term relief of symptoms, especially when a tendon injury or nerve impingement is involved. In those cases, injections of pain relievers and corticosteroids into the joint can be very effective in relieving both pain and inflammation to support long-term healing.
Other treatments include:
Sometimes, wrist pain can be caused by a traumatic injury like a slip-and-fall accident or a car accident that causes a fracture, strain or sprain. But often, wrist pain is caused by repetitive use and overuse, nerve compression and irritation, or inflammatory diseases like arthritis or gout that cause damage to the joint.
Some types of wrist pain can be diagnosed with a review of symptoms and a physical examination to determine which movements and motions are associated with pain and other symptoms. Diagnostic imaging can provide more detailed information about the health and structure of the joint. When more detailed information is needed to determine the cause of pain, a minimally-invasive diagnostic procedure called arthroscopy can be performed. In arthroscopy, a tiny camera is inserted into the joint via a small incision. The camera sends images of the joint to a video screen where they can be viewed by the doctor. Sometimes, nerve conduction studies can be helpful in determining which nerve is responsible for pain signals so treatment can be targeted at that specific nerve pathway.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a chronic condition that causes painful cramping, aching, numbness and burning sensations in the hands and fingers, sometimes accompanied by muscle weakness and a loss of grip strength and finger coordination. The condition occurs when a major nerve becomes compressed as it passes through a narrow channel (called the carpal tunnel) in the wrist. Compression usually develops as a result of repetitive motions of the fingers and hand or from persistent pressure on the wrist. Arthritis and traumatic injury can also cause carpal tunnel syndrome.
Arm pain can be caused by traumatic injuries, overuse injuries, repetitive use injuries or diseases. Some of the more common causes of arm pain include:
The nerves that transmit sensation to the arms travel from the brain to the arm through the cervical spine (the neck portion of the spine). Sometimes, these nerves can become compressed where they exit the spine, resulting in radiating pain that can extend down the entire length of the arm. Pain may be accompanied by numbness, tingling or loss of muscle coordination.
Thoracic outlet syndrome is a very painful, chronic condition caused when the nerves and blood vessels located between the collarbone and the first upper rib become compressed, usually as a result of trauma, repetitive use or overuse. In addition to causing pain in the shoulders and arms, thoracic outlet syndrome can also cause numbness and tingling in the fingers.
Tendons are surrounded by a protective sheath. During movement, the tendons slip back and forth within the sheath, aided by the slick lining called the synovium. Sometimes, this sheath becomes irritated and inflamed, preventing normal motion of the tendon and causing pain.
Most types of wrist pain, including carpal tunnel syndrome and pain from arthritis and gout, can be treated with injections of pain medications and corticosteroids to reduce inflammation and promote healing. Injections may be combined with physical therapy to help restore flexibility, strength and function in the wrist and hand. Nerve block injections may also help by blocking pain signals between the wrist and the brain. Arm pain associated with nerve, tendon or disc problems can usually be resolved with injections in the area surrounding the joint using medications to relieve inflammation as well as pain.
Other treatments include: