Most Common Elbow Injuries

Your elbow is a joint that you might not give much thought, that is until it starts hurting. You may notice pain develop gradually over time, or it may appear suddenly following trauma. At Maryland Orthopedic Specialists, we treat all types of elbow pain and injuries to help you find relief and resume normal function.

The elbow joint is where three bones (the ulna, radius, and humerus) meet. These bones are held together with substances that include cartilage, ligaments, and fluid. Any of these structures are subject to injury, inflammation, and disease. Pain, stiffness, and limited range of motion can result. Read on to learn some of the most common issues that affect this joint.


A fracture or break can occur in any of the three bones that meet at the elbow. Usually these fractures are minor and resolve successfully after being splinted, fitted with a cast, or, in rare cases, surgery.

Throwing injuries

Repetitive throwing also irritates the flexor/pronator tendons that attach to the humerus bone on the inside of the elbow. You experience symptoms of pain on the inner edge of your elbow due to this tendinitis. Pain may occur during activity, such as pitching, and progress to being present even when you’re resting.

Over time, you may develop valgus extension overload from repetitive throwing. The bones around the elbow twist and compress one another, leading to a wearing down of the cartilage and abnormal bone spurs. You may experience swelling and pain as a result.

Elbow arthritis

Arthritis is far more likely to show up in your knee or hip, but can affect your elbow joint. Often, it’s the result of an old injury or inflammatory forms of arthritis, such as rheumatoid. Pain and stiffness are signs of arthritis.

Cubital tunnel issues

A channel along the inside of the elbow, the cubital tunnel is where the ulnar nerve passes. This “funny bone” nerve can become irritated if your cubital tunnel becomes too tight due to inflammation. You experience numbness in the hand, aching on the inside of the elbow, and weakness in your hand as a result. 

Rest, stabilization, and over-the-counter medications usually resolve the pain, but in some cases, surgery is required. 

Medial and lateral epicondylitis

Golfers commonly develop medial epicondylitis, irritation of the bony prominence on the inside of the elbow. The tendons that attach to the medial epicondyle can degenerate and experience tiny tears. Golfers aren’t the only people to experience the condition; anyone who overuses the joint is at risk. With rest and awareness, golfer’s elbow often resolves on its own.

Lateral epicondylitis is commonly called tennis elbow, but it’s not exclusive to the sport. The lateral epicondyle is where the tendons that straighten the wrist and fingers attach. People often develop small tears here from overuse, such as the action of swinging a racquet, painting, or lifting heavy objects.

If you have immediate or chronic pain at your elbow joint that interferes with daily activity and sleep, it’s time for you to call us at Maryland Orthopedic Specialists. Our team of expert, board-certified physicians are ready to help diagnose and offer treatment for your pain. Call today or book an appointment through our online system

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