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Common Causes of Elbow Pain

Common Causes of Elbow Pain

Even at its worst, countless patients attribute elbow pain to be a symptom of aging or a side effect of training. Soreness or temporary discomfort are indeed common and often benign, but chronic, sharp elbow pain should never go unevaluated. Below are a few of the most common causes of elbow pain that requires professional orthopaedic assessment. 

Overuse Injuries 

Repetitive use of the elbow joint can cause the area to become irritated over time. Such strain is also a leading cause of tendonitis, a painful condition characterized by inflammation of the elbow tendons — or just one of the elbow tendons. However, tendonitis is not only caused by the repetitive motions often preformed in sports like tennis, golf, and baseball. It’s also a result of common household tasks, such as car washing, floor scrubbing, and sweeping. 

Fractures and Sprains 

Direct elbow trauma can cause varying degrees of pain and varying degrees of injury. Accidents such as falls, for example, may cause a patient to land on their elbow and fracture one or more of the bones in the joint. Or, a patient could try to lessen the trauma of a fall by using their hands — twisting the arm and causing an elbow sprain. While a sprain is characterized by injury to the elbow ligaments and a fracture by injury to one or more bones, both of these ailments can cause pain, swelling, and limited elbow mobility. 

Improper Form 

Athletes train specific parts of the body to enhance performance and better protect themselves from injury. At the same time, improper lifting form can often be the cause of prolonged pain. As it pertains to the elbow specifically, poor lifting technique can add unnecessary stress to the elbow tendons — putting lifters at risk of injury. In most cases, athletes or active patients experience elbow pain when incorrectly performing a bench press. By placing the wrists too far in or outside of the elbow, lifters place additional pressure on the joint. 

Autoimmune Disorders 

Joint pain is a hallmark symptom of autoimmune conditions such as arthritis, lupus, and Sjögren’s syndrome. Such conditions cause inflammation, which promotes stiffness, swelling, and limited mobility. Furthermore, many immune system disorders attack the connective tissue that protects joints, tendons, and ligaments — which means patients with autoimmune ailments may suffer from pain in the elbows among other joints. 

Put Your Pain at Ease 

Even if you know the cause of your elbow pain, it’s best to report any cases of prolonged or severe pain to an orthopaedic specialist. At Orthopaedic Associates of St. Augustine, we have a team of orthopaedists and sports medicine specialists dedicated to alleviating and treating your pain. Furthermore, our Shoulder & Elbow center was designed specifically for patients with complex elbow conditions. Schedule your appointment today by filling out our online request form or calling 904-825-0540.


Dr. Volk, expert in ArthroscopyAlbert Volk, MD 
Board certifications in Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine. Dr. Volk specializes in an all-arthroscopic rotator cuff repair of the shoulder.


Alexander Lampley, MD
Board Certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery.