Your elbow joint is the connection of the upper arm bone (humerus) to the bones (radius and ulna) in the forearm. Muscles, tendons, and ligaments hold these bones together, while also letting you bend and straighten your arm.
If you have elbow pain, it may be one of three common elbow injuries:
Lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow) is outer elbow pain caused by an inflamed tendon of the muscle that extends the forearm (as in a tennis backhand). See A Guide to the Treatment and Prevention of Tennis Elbow.
Medial epicondylitis (golfer's elbow) is inner elbow pain caused by an inflamed tendon of the muscle that flexes the forearm (as in swinging a golf club). See A Guide to the Treatment and Prevention of Golfer's Elbow.
Medial collateral ligament sprain (thrower's elbow) is pain on both sides of the elbow caused by damage to one of the ligaments that holds the bones together (common in baseball pitchers and other people who throw things). See A Guide to the Treatment and Prevention of Thrower's Elbow Pain.
You don't have to be a tennis player, golfer, or thrower of things to get one of these injuries, as other activities also use these motions.
Damage to the muscles, tendons, or ligaments around the elbow joint causes pain. The most common cause of injury is overuse. Any action that is repetitive and places a prolonged strain on the forearm muscles, combined with not enough rest, can strain and overwork the muscles.
Other causes of pain include direct injury (such as a bump or fall), using poorly fitted equipment (tennis racquets, golf clubs, work tools, and so forth), poor sports or working technique (get some instruction!), and a low level of general fitness and conditioning.
Another possible cause of pain in your elbow is olecranon bursitis. A pad called a bursa is located at the tip (olecranon) of the elbow. Injury, minor trauma, local infection, or body-wide diseases (for example, rheumatoid arthritis or gout) can cause the bursa to become inflamed, painful, and sometimes swollen.
Massage therapy is a great way to help heal elbow injury (but not bursitis), if you find a massage therapist who is skilled in injury massage. The following video demonstrates massage for tennis elbow.
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