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Elbow Pain May Not Be What You Think

Elbow pain is a pretty common reason to see the doctor. We consult with patients of all ages who complain of pain that originates somewhere in the elbow. Sometimes, pain stems from a known injury, but there are other reasons that problems in this joint may occur. Often, it is nothing more than degeneration. The elbow is a complex structure, like the hip joint. However, this part of the body does not have a deep socket, which can make it vulnerable to a number of different injuries. Some that we commonly see at Action Sports and Pain Management include:

  • Tennis elbow. Due to commonality of this term, many people refer to any type of elbow pain as tennis elbow. Technically, the term describes any type of tendonitis in the elbow joint. The condition may have nothing to do with the sport indicated. In fact, many people who present with this concern are golfers, or have developed pain as the joint has degenerated with age. In mild cases, relief may come from wearing a compression sleeve over the joint. If the condition worsens, we may consider steroid injections, PRP therapy, or physical therapy.

  • Your funny bone isn’t happy. The funny bone isn’t actually a bone; it’s the ulnar nerve. If you have ever bumped this nerve, which sits in a small tunnel inside the elbow, you know how painful it can be. Pressure on the ulnar nerve can produce discomfort at the site of origin. It may also cause numbness in the hand. Treatment for this problem focuses on relieving pressure inside the cubital tunnel.

  • In the same vicinity as the ulnar nerve is the ulnar collateral ligament. This is often called the Tommy John ligament, after the baseball player who was the first patient to undergo corrective surgery for damage to this structure. To avoid injury to the ulnar collateral ligament, athletes are encouraged to get adequate rest, especially to a throwing arm, in between games and practices.

  • Children may also suffer from elbow pain, also often related to sporting activities. The joints that are still growing do so with the help of growth plates. The elbow is one example. Growth plates are cartilage, softer tissue that could be overworked and overstressed. If pain develops at the inside of the elbow, rest is the best remedy. If the child athlete continues to play through the pain, more significant injury could occur.

Our sports medicine practice has three New York locations to serve you. Contact us for your consultation.

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