Overview

Helping you return to active living

Your elbow is a joint that consists of bone, cartilage, ligaments and fluid surrounded by muscles and tendons. Problems or trauma to  any of these can cause elbow pain.

In many cases, elbow pain improves with simple self-care. But if your pain is severe, doesn’t get better or is making it hard to do daily activities, you should seek help.

Our team is here for you. They can determine the cause of your pain and help you find relief.

Symptoms and diagnosis

If pain is getting the best of you, turn to us

Elbow pain can have many causes, from overuse and injuries to chronic conditions like arthritis. This means you can have many different symptoms.

Symptoms 

Common symptoms associated with elbow pain include: 

  • Bruising 

  • Burning in the outer part of your elbow

  • Discomfort when moving your arm 

  • Loss of range of motion

  • Numbness, tingling or pain in your hand 

  • Redness and/or warmth

  • Stiffness 

  • Swelling 

  • Weakened grip strength 

  • Weakness when bending your elbow or twisting your forearm 

Testing and diagnosis

To find the sources of your pain, doctors may do one or more tests. These include:

  • A physical exam 

  • Fluid testing, which involves examining fluid from the bursa, the sac that surrounds the bony point of your elbow

  • Imaging tests, such as X-ray, CT, MRI or ultrasound

  • Electromyography, a test that evaluates muscle and nerve health

Common diagnoses

Based on your symptoms and test results, doctors will make a diagnosis. Common diagnoses include:

The bursa becomes inflamed due to infection, trauma, pressure or a medical condition.

Entrapment of your ulnar nerve near your elbow.

The bones of your elbow joint are out of alignment.

A break of one of the bones that make up your elbow.

Cartilage that cushions the bones of your elbow joint wear away.

A condition in which your immune system attacks your own body, damaging your joints.

A ligament that’s torn or stretched.

A muscle that is torn or stretched

A type of tendinitis, or swelling of the tendons of your elbow.

Treatments and research

Relieving your pain, helping you get back to everyday life

Treatment will depend on the cause of your pain. It can include:

  • Home treatments, including rest, ice and heat

  • Immobilization of your elbow with braces, splints or slings

  • Medication, such as anti-inflammatories, antibiotics or corticosteroids

  • Physical or occupational therapy to improve flexibility, strength and range of motion

  • Surgery to repair ligaments or tendons, restore bone alignment, release an entrapped nerve or replace your elbow joint

Our team works with you to find the therapies that will be of most help.

Meet our team

The help you need from specialists who care

A team of experts may be involved in your care if you have elbow pain.

It includes radiologists, physical therapists, sports medicine doctors and orthopedic hand and upper extremity surgeons. Athletic trainers, health psychologists, occupational therapists and others may have roles as well. They work together to lessen your discomfort and help you return to the activities that are important to you.

Getting you back to the activities you enjoy

Joint pain, a broken bone or other conditions that affect how your body moves can sideline you from the activities you enjoy. Our orthopedic specialists can treat your orthopedic needs.

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Locations

Find care near by

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  • UW Health at The American Center - Sports Medicine
    • 4602 Eastpark Blvd. / Madison, WI
    • (608) 263-8850
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  • UW Health at The American Center - Sports Rehabilitation
    • 4602 Eastpark Blvd. / Madison, WI
    • (608) 440-6444
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  • Research Park Clinic - Sports Medicine
    • 621 Science Dr. / Madison, WI
    • (608) 263-8850
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  • Research Park Clinic - Sports Rehabilitation
    • 621 Science Dr. / Madison, WI
    • (608) 263-4765
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Patient and support services

Timely services, helpful information

We offer several services and resources for people with orthopedic conditions, including elbow pain.

OrthoCare Now
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If you have a new elbow injury that needs evaluation, OrthoCare Now can direct you to the provider best suited to meet your needs. This service is offered Monday–Friday, 8 a.m.–5 p.m.

OrthoCare Now

We offer a comprehensive joint replacement program, should you need joint replacement surgery. It includes expert surgical care and pre-surgery education and support.

In many cases, our physical and occupational therapists can relieve your pain, reduce your need for medication and help you possibly avoid surgery.

Contact us

If your elbow pain is related to a sports injury, our physical therapists and athletic trainers can help you get back in the game.

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