What Are The Most Common
Elbow Injuries?


Soft tissue injuries (tendons, muscles, ligaments), bone injuries (fractures or osteoarthritis), and nerve injuries are the three types of elbow injuries that commonly affect either the inner or outer elbow.


The following are the most common elbow injuries seen by orthopedists and surgeons:

  • Tennis elbow is a condition that occurs when a (medical term: lateral epicondylitis). This injury is a type of tendinitis (sometimes spelled “tendonitis”) that affects the muscles and tendons that control the use of the forearm — specifically, the extension of the wrist and fingers. It affects the tendons on the outside of the elbow tennis elbow joint.

Tennis elbow is characterized by a loss of grip strength and a painful soreness or burning sensation on the outside of the elbow.

Tennis elbow can develop even if you don’t play tennis. Many people are surprised to learn that they can get the same injury from a variety of activities that strain the tendons in the same way  (for example, doing yard work, swimming, or even typing).

  • Flexor Tendinitis. You may have inflamed flexor/pronator tendons if you experience pain on the inside of your elbow when throwing. On the inner side of the elbow, these tendons connect to the upper arm bone.
  • Ulnar Collateral Ligament (UCL) Injury.This is another common inner elbow injury among throwers. Damage to the UCL can range from a minor tear to a complete ligament rupture. You may notice a decrease in throwing speed in addition to inner elbow pain.
  • Valgus Extension Overload(VEO). This injury occurs when the bony prominence on the elbow is forced against the humerus, which is common in throwers (the upper arm bone). When the arm twists, this happens (for example, when overhand pitching a baseball). Rubbing the point of the elbow can wear away the cartilage and encourage the bone to grow spurs. Swelling, pain, and a reduced range of motion are all symptoms of bone spurs in the elbow.
  • Olecranon Stress Fracture. Weak or fatigued muscles transfer stress to the bone, resulting in small cracks. Most people think of stress fractures in their legs when they think of stress fractures (for example, in jumpers or runners). These painful fractures on the underside of the elbow are more common in athletes who throw with a lot of force, such as baseball pitchers.
  • Ulnar Neuritis.Ulnar Neuritis is a condition in which the nerves in the ulna The ulnar nerve wraps around the upper arm bone’s end. It may snap or become irritated if it is overstretched or slides out of place. Ulnar neuritis, which causes an electric shock sensation in the elbow and forearm as well as numbness, tingling, and pain in the fingers, is common in throwers. Non-throwers may also sustain this injury if they remain in a single body position for an extended period of time.


Is it necessary to have surgery for tennis elbow?

Only 10-20% of tennis elbow cases necessitate medical attention. Surgery is rarely considered in the treatment of this condition, except in the following cases:

Patients who have not responded well to non-surgical treatments, patients who take longer than 6 months to recover without surgery, or patients who are experiencing a serious barrier to their way of life may require surgery.

People who have a chronic tennis elbow disorder are more likely to have other issues, such as impinge lateral plica and residual cartilage damage. Inappropriate treatments, such as the overuse of steroid injections, which has resulted in structural issues within the tendons, can also play a role in determining whether surgery is necessary.

Modern minimally invasive surgery techniques minimize the disruption to surrounding muscle tissue, allowing patients undergoing the procedure to quickly recover. We can clearly and fully explore associated lesions that are the possible cause of lateral pain in the elbow joint, and these lesions can be removed in the same procedure. Because of these benefits, I often recommend arthroscopic surgery to my patients for the treatment of chronic lateral elbow pain.

The elbow has a lot of moving parts, and if any one of these is injured it can lead to some serious issues. We’ve put together this blog post with the most common elbow injuries you should be aware of. If you want more information on how to prevent or treat an injury, contact us!

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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