The following are common symptoms (complaints) that people have with elbow problems.


Pain around the elbow is very common. The most common site of pain is on the outside, at the lateral epicondyle. This is known as lateral epicondylitis or more commonly as tennis elbow. Pain on the inside is known as medial epicondylitis or more commonly as golfer's elbow. Pain deep from the center of the joint may be arthritis. Pain at the olecranon in the back of the joint can be from triceps tendonitis or tears. Finally, pain or bruising in the front of the elbow is often related to biceps problems.


The elbow joint, for a variety of reasons, is very easily prone to stiffness. For that reason, most fractures around the elbow in adults are treated either with early mobilization (i.e., no prolonged casting) or by surgery to allow for early mobilization. Without trauma, the most common cause of elbow stiffness is arthritis.


The elbow joint is inherently quite stable. However, repeated throwing can stretch out the medial collateral ligament and cause elbow instability. In addition, some people have other instability patterns that cause their elbow to dislocate frequently. Some children have problems with "nursemaid's elbow", which is a mild type of elbow instability (of the radial head) that children will typically outgrow.


Swelling frequently occurs after injury, usually medially or laterally (inside/outside). It can be associated with tennis or golfer's elbow. Weightlifting with heavy weights can also cause swelling. Finally, swelling can be a sign of arthritis in the joint. As the elbow joint and muscles are very close to the surface, they respond very well to compression and ice to treat swelling.


These symptoms can occur because of a loose body or arthritis in the elbow joint. Occasionally, tendons can also snap as they cross the joint.

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