The elbow is an important joint of the arm and without it we would struggle to perform a lot of our day to day tasks of living.
The elbow joint consists of three bones:
- The humerus (bone of the upper arm)
- The radius (bone of the forearm)
- The ulna (bone of the forearm)
The main elbow joint is made up of the link between the humerus and the two forearm bones. Movement at this joint allows you to bend and straighten your elbow.
There is also a joint between the two forearm bones- this joint allows the forearm to turn the palm of your hand up or down.
Injury to the bones or joints can lead to stiffness in these movements which can then lead to problems carrying out everyday tasks.
Despite being problematic and impacting on our day to day life, there's no reason why elbow pain should stop you from continuing your everyday life. In most cases it can be easily managed by you at home. Use the links below to find out more about specific problems with your wrist or hand.
Common elbow problems
Lateral epicondylitis – ‘Tennis elbow’
Lateral epicondylitis is the medical name for pain that arises from the outer (‘lateral’) part of the elbow. It is often referred to as ‘Tennis elbow’. Tennis elbow is often due to inflammation of the wrist extensor tendons. These tendons are involved in bending the wrist joint up (extension) and are also active when gripping with the wrist extended (as in tennis, hence the name). Any repetitive activity that twists and extends the wrist can lead to tennis elbow.
Tennis elbow can sometimes settle on its own or with a period of rest or activity modification (taking a break from the activity that makes symptoms worse).
Pain killers like paracetamol or ibuprofen (anti-inflammatories) may offer short relief (consult your pharmacist if you are unsure)
Ice - Using an ice pack and performing ice massage with an ice cube over the affected area is recommended ( click here to find out more)
Wear a tennis elbow strap - An ‘epicondylitis clasp’ can sometimes be helpful to offload the tendon and therefore decrease the pain. This is worn just below the elbow with the aim of decreasing the stress/ tension on the tendon when the muscle contracts. You will be able to find these online or at your local pharmacy.
Medial epicondylitis – ‘Golfers elbow’
Medial epicondylitis is the medical name for pain that arises from the inner (‘medial’) part of the elbow. It is often referred to as ‘Golfers elbow’. Golfers elbow is often due to inflammation of the wrist flexor tendons. These tendons are involved in flexing the wrist joint and are also active when gripping with the wrist flexed (as in golf, hence the name). Any repetitive activity that twists and flexes the wrist can lead to golfer’s elbow.