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Elbow pain and discomfort can be an outcome of a myriad of reasons. Thus, the symptoms of an elbow pain may differ depending on the factor or the medical condition causing the pain. In most of the cases, an elbow pain restricts the movement of the arm affecting a person's ability to lift things or to hold onto something.
- The elbow pain may also be associated with stiffness, and swelling in the elbow joints (often seen in people with Arthritis of the Elbow).
- In some, the elbow pain may be such that a person is unable to open a door, straighten the wrist. They face difficulties in even making a fist, (common in people with a Tennis Elbow).
- In the case of Cubital Tunnel Syndrome, in addition to the elbow pain, there may be weakened hand grip and muscle wastings. The weakness may also affect the ring finger as well as the little finger. In extreme cases, there may be a claw-like deformity affecting the hand.
- In people with the Ulnar Collateral Ligament (UCL) injury, the associated symptoms may include pain mainly concentrated in the inside of the elbow. Further, there may be irritation of the ulnar nerve resulting in numbness in the little as well as the ring finger. The elbow may also appear to be unstable.
- Like the UCL injury, the Little League Elbow may cause pain, swelling, and stiffness on the pinky side of the elbow (inside of the elbow).
To evaluate and determine the exact cause of the elbow pain, a doctor may carry out the following diagnostic tests.
- Blood tests: In the case of arthritis, a blood test may help in a more accurate diagnosis.
- A doctor may also perform some imaging tests such as
- An X-ray of the elbow.
- A CT Scan and an MRI to see if there are any damages or injury to the ligaments, cartilages or tendons.
- A bone scan may come in handy in the case of stress fractures.
The treatment for elbow pain primarily depends on the condition that triggers it.
- In the case of arthritis of the elbow which causes pain and inflammation, the use of Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID), analgesics and corticosteroids provide great relief from the associated symptoms.
- Many people with elbow stiffness (there is a weakness, with people unable to even bend or straighten the elbow) benefit from physiotherapy which goes a long way to relieve the pain and strengthen the elbow.
- PRP (Platelet-rich plasma) injections may be used to treat elbow pain. The blood of the affected person is collected and centrifuged to obtain the platelet-rich plasma. The platelets are then injected into the affected site to speed up the recovery process.
- The use of cold compress and painkillers can also help to reduce the pain and the swelling. For better results, follow this with a hot compress.
- In extreme cases, a person may need an elbow surgery to treat the diseased condition. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult an Orthopedist.