Elbow Injuries & Conditions

man with elbow injuryThe elbow is one of the most complex joints in the human body. Made up of three bones, including the humerus, ulna, and radius; three ligaments; and seven major muscles, the elbow allows you to bend and extend your arm, as well as rotate your palm up and down.

Because of the complexity of this joint, elbow injuries are extremely common. These injuries can be brought on by a variety of causes but are commonly due to either blunt force, such as accidental falls, or overuse from repetitive movements, such as in sports or the workplace. Elbow injuries can be sorted into three categories, including soft tissue injuries, bone injuries, or nerve injuries.

The following are the most common elbow injuries and conditions we see in our practice. Follow the links below to learn more details and information on each condition, including causes, symptoms, and surgical and non-surgical treatments.

If you need assistance determining your potential condition, our free Where Does it Hurt?® interactive tool can help; however, it is not intended to be used as a diagnostic measure. To get an official diagnosis and a treatment plan, please make an appointment with Dr. Knight at The Hand and Wrist Institute‘s Dallas or Southlake office. Appointments can be scheduled online or over the phone.


Elbow injuries and conditions include a range of issues that affect the elbow joint and its surrounding structures. This includes the muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, and the arm. We explore the common causes and symptoms below.


Here are some common causes and risk factors for elbow injuries:


Here are some common signs and symptoms to watch out for:

Common Elbow Injuries and Conditions

Below are some common elbow injuries and conditions, including causes, symptoms, and treatments.

Elbow Arthritis

Elbow arthritis can occur with wear and tear on the joint cartilage over time. Symptoms include pain, stiffness, and reduced range of motion. To treat elbow arthritis, we recommend pain medication, physical therapy, and, in severe cases, joint replacement surgery.

Elbow Bursitis

Elbow bursitis happens when the membrane at the tip of the elbow becomes inflamed. Repetitive pressure or trauma usually causes this condition. Symptoms include swelling, warmth, redness, and pain at the back of the elbow. To treat it, we recommend rest, anti-inflammatory medications, draining any excess fluid, and padding to relieve pressure.

Elbow Fractures

Elbow fractures are usually a result of trauma or injury that fractures certain bones. For example, radial head fractures affect the head of the radius bone near the elbow. Olecranon fractures affect the tip of the elbow. Symptoms include severe pain, swelling, and deformity of the elbow. To treat fractures, we immobilize the joint with a cast or splint. For complex cases, we may recommend surgery to repair the joint.

Elbow Strains and Sprains

Strain and sprains happen when you overstretch or tear your ligaments. Strains often occur during activities that involve throwing, lifting, or gripping. Sprains can result from a fall or impact that forces the joint out of its normal range. Both conditions cause pain, swelling, and difficulty moving the elbow. You may hear or feel a popping or tearing sensation when you sprain your elbow. Mild injuries may improve with rest and using a brace or splint. We may recommend surgery for severe sprains to repair the damaged ligaments.

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

Cubital tunnel syndrome occurs when an injury compresses or irritates the ulnar nerve, which runs from the hand to the shoulder. Symptoms include numbness, tingling, and weakness in your pinky and ring fingers. To treat this condition, we recommend splinting and physical therapy. In severe cases, we may recommend surgery to release the compressed nerve.

How To Prevent Elbow Injuries

Here are some tips to prevent elbow injuries:

Importance of Early Diagnosis

If left untreated, your injury could get worse and cause permanent damage. This could mean reduced joint stability or long-term issues with elbow function. Therefore, early diagnosis is very important.

Treatment Methods

Here are some common treatment methods:

When To Seek Medical Attention

If you experience persistent elbow pain, reduced mobility, or other concerning symptoms, we recommend scheduling an appointment with our orthopedic surgeons at the Hand and Wrist Institute in Dallas. We can provide an accurate diagnosis and a personalized treatment plan to get you on the road to recovery. Remember, preventing elbow injuries through proper care, early diagnosis, and prompt treatment is essential to maintain the health and function of your elbow.