3 Types of Elbow Pain and How to Treat Them

tennis player wraps injured elbow

There are many different types of elbow pain, and some of these elbow pains are more common than others.

This blog focuses on the 3 most common types of elbow pain and how to treat them.

1. Arthritis of the Elbow

What is It?

Arthritis is the swelling and inflammation of one or more of your joints. It can affect many different joints, from your fingers to your toes.

There are several different types of arthritis, but there are three main types that affect the elbows:

  1. Osteoarthritis: Osteoarthritis causes cartilage, the tissues found at the ends of bones where joints are formed, to break down. It’s the most common type of arthritis because cartilage wears down over time.
  2. Rheumatoid arthritis: Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic autoimmune disorder that happens when your immune system attacks the body’s tissue. It does not affect cartilage, but instead the lining of your joints. It can cause swelling there that often results in joint deformity and bone erosion.
  3. Juvenile idiopathic arthritis: Juvenile idiopathic arthritis affects children younger than 16 and can be present in one joint of many. Symptoms may be experienced for a few months while others suffer from it for many years or for the rest of their lives.

What Causes It?

Arthritis may be caused by:

  • Aging
  • Genetics
  • Bone deformities or defective cartilage
  • Obesity
  • Joint injuries
  • Putting repeated stress on the joint

How to Treat It

Regardless of the type of elbow arthritis you have, the treatment plan is typically the same: it’s about pain management. There are no cures for arthritis, but there are ways to ease the pain.

We recommend treating elbow arthritis with platelet-rich plasma therapy, or PRP therapy, in which we draw the patient’s blood and use it to create a special concentration filled with more platelets than a blood sample would usually contain. Platelets are a component of blood that play a very important role in the healing process of the body. 

When more platelets are injected into the elbow (or the afflicted area), your body will respond by healing faster. This can help ease pain and strengthen tissue, all using your body’s very own natural healing capabilities. 


2. Golfer’s Elbow

What is It?

Golfer’s elbow occurs when you experience pain on the inside of the elbow, where the tendons of your forearm muscles attach to the bony elbow joint. It can also affect your forearm and wrist.

What Causes It?

Despite its name, golfer’s elbow isn’t just caused by playing golf too often. It can just as easily (and is more likely to be) caused by doing repeated movements that require a great deal of force, like lifting weight with improper technique. Your job can also play a role in the development of golfer’s elbow, particularly in construction-related fields. Plumbing and carpentry work can also wreak havoc on your elbow, too. Other causes include playing racket sports like tennis or sports that involve throwing, such as baseball, softball, football, and even archery.  (And yes, golfing can be a cause, too — just not the most likely one.)

How to Treat It

PRP therapy is a popular treatment option for golfer’s elbow, and it’s one that many famous athletes utilize to keep themselves in the field, especially after experiencing a sports injury. Tiger Woods used PRP therapy to improve recovery after tearing his ACL and undergoing ACL surgery. 

3. Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)

What is It?

Tennis elbow is very similar to golfer’s elbow, except it affects the forearm muscles connecting to the outside of the elbow. It’s essentially the inverse of golfer’s elbow and can also spread pain into your forearm and wrist.

What Causes It?

Like golfer’s elbow, tennis elbow is most commonly caused by overuse, particularly when doing a repeated motion done with a good amount of force. The name implies that tennis elbow is caused by playing tennis — which is only one cause. (If it is a tennis injury, it’s likely due to poor technique and form when doing a backhand stroke).

But more basic household activities are likely to be the reason behind tennis elbow, including:

  • Cutting up ingredients for cooking, especially meat
  • Using plumbing tools
  • Painting
  • Using screwdrivers
  • Using a computer mouse repetitively

People in occupations involving the above motions, such as butchers and cooks, plumbers, painters, and carpenters, are at greater risk of developing tennis elbow than the average population.

How to Treat It

PRP therapy is the preferred treatment for golfer’s elbow, so it should not be a surprise that it’s also recommended for tennis elbow as well.

Contact Memphis Regenerative Healthcare for more information

Memphis Regenerative Healthcare utilizes PRP therapy to treat elbow pain, whether it’s for managing chronic pain or treating sports injuries. Contact us today to schedule a consultation or to request more information.

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