Elbow and upper arm pain is caused by injury or stress on the elbow joint, ligaments (connect the bones together), tendons (connect the muscle to the bones), muscles, and bones in the upper arms.
Most elbow and upper arm pain comes from joint wear from aging or due to repetitive motions or overextension during sports, physical activity, or physical tasks at work. Elbow injury symptoms depend on the cause, but they can include pain and tenderness on the inner elbow, stiffness, numbness, tingling, and weakness. Common elbow problems include:
- Cartilage injuries: damage to the tissue that covers the surface of the bone
- Elbow bursitis: painful inflammation
- Elbow fractures or elbow dislocation: bones are broken or moved out of place
- Golfer’s elbow: pain from the elbow to the wrist on the inside of the elbow
- Little Leaguer’s elbow: pain on the inner side of the elbow caused by excessive throwing
- Nerve compression, damage, or impingement: compression of the bony or soft tissue structures during certain activities, such as stretching out the arm and hand
- Osteoarthritis: degenerative wear and tear on the joint
- Rheumatoid arthritis: a chronic (ongoing) inflammatory joint disorder
- Tendonitis or inflammation: occurs due to strained or ruptured tendons, such as a bicep (muscle on the top of the upper arm) tendon injury, or a distal bicep tendon rupture
- Tennis elbow: pain from the outside of the elbow into the forearm and wrist
- Ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) sprain: tear of one of the ligaments on the inner side of the elbow
If your pain lasts longer than a few days or if it hurts while at rest, call an orthopaedic specialist at University of Miami Health System. We offer appointments as soon as possible — often the same day or within 24 hours.
Often, elbow and upper arm pain and injuries improve with home treatments, such as rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE method).
Your doctor may prescribe an anti-inflammatory medication or recommend an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory, such as ibuprofen, to help reduce swelling and pain.
Your doctor may recommend you undergo electrical stimulation therapy to help get relief from your injury.
You may need to work with a physical therapist to regain strength and use following an injury.
Elbow Replacement Surgery
If other treatments have been unsuccessful for your elbow injury, you may need elbow replacement surgery.
Your doctor will conduct a thorough exam and ask for your health history to diagnose this condition.
Your doctor may order an imaging test such as an X-ray, a computerized tomography (CT) scan, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to confirm a more serious injury like a fracture.
Why Choose UHealth?
Orthopaedic trauma care you can count on. The trauma team manages orthopaedic trauma services at the University of Miami Hospital, Jackson Memorial Hospital, and Jackson South Community Hospital. Our team is made up of six surgeons who each have a subspecialty focus in orthopaedic trauma. We treat everything from simple fractures that need a brace or cast to complex injuries that are best handled at a Level 1 or Level 2 trauma center.
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