How Elbow Pain is Diagnosed and Treated

Many disorders can potentially affect the elbow. In fact, a good number of them are due to sports injuries and overuse. Tennis players, boxers, baseball pitchers, and golfers often complain of elbow pain.


tennis elbow golf elbow


Elbow conditions may include problems with elbow tendons and ligaments as well as the bones and muscles in the arm. Elbow pain treatment often depends on the specific symptoms and affected structures overall.


How to Diagnose Elbow Disorders

elbow xrayThere are several ways doctors can effectively diagnose disorders of the elbow, some of which may include the following:

  • X-rays
  • Physical exam
  • EMG (electromyography)
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
  • CT (computerized tomography)
  • Bursa fluid biopsy


Elbow Pain Treatment

Treating elbow pain primarily depends on the type of disorder as well as the specific symptoms that you’re experiencing. Most disorders do well with conservative treatment and only surgery is done as a last resort.

elbow bracing

Some common treatment options include the following:

  • Ice packs
  • Adequate rest
  • Elbow padding
  • Physical therapy
  • Immobilisation or bracing
  • Steroid injections
  • NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)
  • Surgical treatments


Treating Elbow Disorders with Medication

For many elbow disorders, medications are often used to alleviate pain and inflammation, prevent joint damage, slow down bone loss, and change the path of a particular disease. The medications that doctors prescribe to treat  many elbow problems and arthritis will largely depend on the kind of condition or arthritis occurring in the elbow. Here are some of the most common types used:


• NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)  

NSAIDS are widely used to treat elbow pain and arthritis in general. They can greatly help both inflammation and pain and are available without a prescription.


How do pain relievers work?

analgesics• Analgesics  

Analgesics rank high when it comes to prescribing medication for many kinds of arthritis, including arthritis in the elbow. Also, they’re used to alleviate pain due to elbow injuries and fractures. Different from NSAIDs that target both inflammation and pain, analgesics are specifically designed to relieve pain only. Therefore, they’re often safe for individuals who can’t take NSAIDs on account of stomach issues or allergies. When taken as prescribed by a doctor, they’re a good choice for individuals whose arthritis often causes pain minus the inflammation.


cortisone injection• Corticosteroids  

Corticosteroids generally respond very quickly in order to counteract inflammation, similar to the way cortisone works in your own body. Sometimes oral corticosteroids are prescribed if the inflammation is caused by a systemic inflammatory disease. If the inflammation only occurs in one or two joints, it’s likely your doctor will choose to inject a corticosteroid treatment into the joint directly.


Preventing Elbow Problems

Because most elbow problems are the direct result of an injury or overuse, most can be prevented by doing the following:

  • Taking breaks as needed from repetitive tasks
  • Use proper elbow padding
  • Correct inappropriate sports techniques
  • Practise key exercises that will strengthen elbow joints
  • Properly stretch and warm up
  • Use the correct tension on sports racquets


Other Elbow Pain Treatment

Other treatments include limitation of activity, engaging in physical therapy, and bracing the elbow. After suffering six months or longer with movement limitations and serious pain, it’s likely your doctor will refer you to an orthopedic surgeon for extensive evaluation concerning your elbow disorder. See also reputable elbow pain treatment by Dr Siow Hua Ming.