Elbow pain is very common. Oftentimes, it develops gradually and can be traced to repetitive arm, wrist, or hand movements, such as those involved in swinging a golf club or tennis racquet. Over time, these movements can irritate and damage the tendons that connect the muscles to the bones in the forearm.
In addition to overuse injuries such as golfer’s elbow (medial epicondylitis) and tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis), elbow pain can result from sudden trauma, such as a fall onto an outstretched hand or a direct blow that causes a muscle strain, ligament sprain, bone fracture, or joint dislocation. Elbow pain can also be caused by osteoarthritis, although the elbows are less susceptible to wear-and-tear damage than other joints throughout the body, such as the shoulders, hips, and knees.
Whether you have a dull ache or sharp pain in your elbow, your discomfort may be interfering with your daily activities. If so, consult with Peter D. Vizzi, MD, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon and elbow, wrist, and hand specialist who practices in Lafayette, Louisiana. Dr. Vizzi will determine the cause of your elbow pain and suggest an individualized treatment plan to address it.
The Importance of an Accurate Diagnosis
The key to finding effective and lasting relief from elbow pain is an accurate diagnosis. To identify the source of your discomfort, Dr. Vizzi will discuss your medical history and symptoms, then perform a physical examination. To further evaluate the bones and soft tissues in and around your elbow, Dr. Vizzi may order an imaging test, such as an X-ray (which can be performed on-site at his office) or an MRI scan.
How Is Elbow Pain Treated?
Dr. Vizzi emphasizes conservative treatment for elbow pain whenever possible. In many cases, he suggests beginning with the PRICE protocol, which involves:
- Protecting the elbow to help prevent further damage
- Resting and avoiding activities that worsen the pain
- Icing the injury to reduce painful inflammation
- Compressing the elbow with an elastic bandage to alleviate swelling
- Elevating the affected arm above heart level to drain excess fluid away from the injury site and promote healing
Additionally, over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can be taken as needed. If appropriate, Dr. Vizzi may also discuss steroid injections or a surgical procedure to relieve pressure in the inflamed area or address a damaged tendon.
As elbow pain improves, Dr. Vizzi generally recommends a gradual return to activity. For instance, some patients find it helpful to begin by practicing the arm movements involved in their sport.
If you’d like to discuss your elbow pain with Dr. Vizzi, contact his office in Lafayette, LA, to request an appointment.