Can Elbow Pain Be Caused
Without Injury?


Many people will experience elbow pain at one time or another without having any obvious injury. It is possible to develop these conditions from overuse, for example if you work in a manual labor profession like construction. However, there are other reasons why someone might develop this type of complaint and they may be more serious than many realize.

For instance, osteoarthritis can cause joint inflammation which is the main culprit behind elbow pain as well as stiffness that makes it difficult to move your arm around with ease. Rheumatoid Arthritis also affects joints throughout the body including elbows so those who have received an RA diagnosis should not wait before seeking treatment. However, if elbow pain persists for more than a few weeks and does not get better with general treatment measures then it’s advised that you go see your doctor in order to find out what might be causing this problem.

Some of the other causes for elbow pain that you might want to consider include nerve damage, cervical spine issues or a torn ligament. If your doctor can’t identify what’s causing this type of problem then it may be worth taking additional steps like getting an MRI scan in order to find out if there are any specific reasons why you’re experiencing these symptoms and whether they will require surgery.

The good news is that most cases of elbow pain won’t turn into something more serious but just because someone doesn’t have an obvious injury does not mean he or she should ignore warning signs like persistent discomfort while using their arm. Everyone deserves medical treatment when necessary so don’t hesitate to get help as soon as possible if you think your condition warrants it.



There are numerous pain relievers available. Mild pain is usually treated with oral medications.


    • For moderate to severe pain, injections into a muscle or into a vein (via IV) are used. To relieve pain, medication can be injected directly into the elbow joint or given via IV.
    • If your elbow is dislocated or broken and needs to be reset, medications can help with that as well. These medications are extremely effective at relieving pain, and while they may cause sedation (drowsiness), they allow muscles to relax, which helps a lot while the doctor works on the elbow. Many people awaken to find their elbow has been reset after receiving these medications and having their elbow reset.



An operation to repair a broken elbow is sometimes the best option. This is especially true if you have an open or compound (multiple-piece fracture) elbow injury.


    • One or more of the bones in the elbow have broken through the skin, resulting in an open elbow injury.
    • The bone must not only be placed in place, but it must also be thoroughly cleaned to prevent infection. It’s best to do this in a hospital operating room.
    • Nerve and blood vessel injuries to the elbow are frequently treated in the operating room. Certain types of broken elbows heal better if they are repaired in the operating room, according to medical research. Your doctor will go over the treatment options with you.


Elbow pain can be caused by a number of different factors, so it’s important to check with your doctor before self-diagnosing and treating symptoms. However, overuse is often the cause for this type of complaint which means you might want to see if changing up your routine or being more careful when lifting heavy objects will help reduce these issues. If not then talk to your doctor about what other treatments are available for this problem.


Are You Looking for Non-Surgical
Relief from an Elbow Injury?


Dr. Chen sees patients at Saint Francis Memorial Hospital Center for Sports Medicine in Walnut Creek, California. He is a board certified Pediatrician and Sports Medicine Doctor that specializes in the non-operative medical treatment of a wide variety of various musculoskeletal conditions.  Dr. Chen graduated from St. George’s University School of Medicine and went on to complete Pediatric residency training at the University of Medicine and Dentistry in New Jersey (Rutgers), then went on to fellowship training in Sports Medicine at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, one of the perennially top ranked children’s hospitals in the nation. There he provided sideline coverage for NCAA Division I athletics at the University of Cincinnati and Miami University (OH). Since graduating, Dr. Chen has continued his love of sports coverage by volunteering for the San Francisco Marathon, the San Francisco Giant Race, and as the team physician for Northgate High School in Walnut Creek. Being a part of The Center for Sports Medicine allows Dr. Chen quick access to a multidisciplinary team of orthopedic surgeons, podiatrists, physiatrists, and physical therapists to return you to your highest functional level quickly and safely. Click here to contact us for your next appointment!


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