Why Does My Elbow Hurt?

Why Does My Elbow Hurt?

Bending fingers, knees, wrists, ankles and many other parts of your body are all done with your joints. Performing all kinds of basic tasks, like walking, writing, eating, and lifting wouldn’t be possible with the different types of joints we have in our bodies. There are many kinds of joints to help us perform these functions, and they are composed of bones, tissues, and other materials.

Millions of Americans experience pain in their joints, with one in four people in some type of pain, and about 44 percent of them physically limited in normal function. Elbow pain is a common type of joint pain, which people deal with for many reasons. To better understand why your elbow hurts, let’s look at how your joints work, the common causes of elbow pain, and the options for treatment.

Residents of the Houston and Spring, Texas, area looking for help with elbow pain or other joint issues can find help with Drs. Billy CheongKesia BroomeElias Madrid, and the skilled team at Elite Spine and Health Center.

How joints work

Joints are the part of your skeleton that help you move everything from your limbs to your jaw, and come in several different types. An adult human body has 360 joints, and the range of movement each joint offers varies by type, such as hinge joints, ball and socket joints, gliding joints, pivot joints, and saddle joints. While bones are the main components of joints, they also consist of other tissue and material such as ligaments, tendons, cartilage, meniscus, bursae, and synovial membrane.

Your elbow is what is known as a synovial hinge joint, where there are two or more bones together forming a joint (the distal humerus and proximal ulna being the primary bones in the joint) that allows your arm to bend, straighten, and rotate at the forearm. It is very similar to the ankle and knee joints.

Common causes for elbow pain

The pain you experience in your elbow could come from problems in the bone, musculoskeletal tissue, or other material in the joint. Here are some common sources for elbow pain:


Repetitive motions over a long time can lead to tendonitis, which may present itself as medial epicondylitis (golfer’s elbow) or lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow). The medial type of this condition affects the inside tendons, and the lateral affects the tendons on the outside of the elbow.


Bursae are small sacs of fluids that help protect joints and olecranon bursitis affects the bursae located at the pointed end of the elbow. This leads to experiencing pain, swelling, and difficulty moving your elbow and can be caused by infection, injury, leaning on it for extended periods of time, and arthritis.


There are many different types of arthritis, but in your elbow osteoarthritis is most likely, being a condition that affects the cartilage in your joints. Injury or overall wear and tear can cause this type of arthritis, which can lead to a locking of the joint, pain, difficulty bending, swelling, and a grating noise in the joint.


Any damage done to the elbow could potentially cause a number of injuries, including sprains, strains, fractures, and dislocations. Any stretching or tearing in the elbow will lead to a sprain or strain in the joint (which can often take a while to heal), and injuries affecting the bone such as falling directly on the joint can lead to bone moving out of the joint (dislocation) or a cracking or breaking of the bone (fracture).

Treatment options

Treating problems in your elbow will depend on the cause, but frequently physical therapy, ice, elbow protection (padding), nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), steroid injections, and rest are ways to alleviate pain and help restore function. There are also many methods of preventing elbow injuries, such as correcting mistakes in exercise regimens, using the proper size and grip on equipment, warming up and stretching before working specific joints, and using elbow padding to reduce impact damage.

There are lots of reasons for elbow pain, but whatever the reason you have it, we’re here to help. Make an appointment with Drs. Cheong, Broome, Madrid, and Elite Spine and Health Center today to find relief from elbow pain and other joint problems. 

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