9 Possible Dull Elbow Pain Causes
The list below shows results from the use of our quiz by Buoy users who experienced dull elbow pain. This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.
An elbow sprain is an injury of the tendons or muscles of the elbow.
Top Symptoms: elbow pain, elbow pain from an injury
Symptoms that always occur with elbow sprain: elbow pain from an injury
Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis)
Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, is an inflammation of the tendons that connect the muscles of the forearm to the side of the elbow.
It is caused by using the arm in repetitive motion, such as swinging a tennis racquet. The forearm muscles become weakened and damaged from overuse, putting strain on the tendons.
Most susceptible are people over 30 who work using overhead motion of the arm. Auto mechanics, painters, carpenters, and butchers are often affected, as well as anyone playing racquet sports,.
Symptoms begin gradually and consist of burning pain on the outside of the elbow, with loss of grip strength.
Diagnosis is made through physical examination with simple neurological tests that use the forearm muscles, such as shaking hands. X-rays or MRI may also be ordered.
Treatment involves rest; nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory pain relievers; physical therapy; an arm brace just below the elbow; and sometimes steroid injections. Surgery is rarely needed.
Using the right equipment, as well as proper technique for overhead motions of the arm, can help prevent the condition.
Top Symptoms: elbow pain, pain in one elbow, hand weakness, pain in the thumb side of the elbow, elbow pain from overuse
Symptoms that always occur with tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis): elbow pain
Golfer's elbow (medial epicondylitis)
Medial epicondylitis (Golfer's Elbow) is similar to it's opposite cousin (Lateral Epicondylitis- Tennis Elbow). Both are caused by the overuse of the elbow, but this one is more frequent in golfers, bowlers, archers, and weight lifters.
Top Symptoms: elbow pain, pain in one elbow, elbow pain from overuse, pain in the pinky side of the elbow
Symptoms that always occur with golfer's elbow (medial epicondylitis): elbow pain
Elbow (olecranon) bursitis
Bursae are small fluid-filled sacks located around the body in strategic locations to provide a cushion and help reduce friction. Olecranon bursitis, or elbow bursitis, is an inflammation of the bursa right on the angle of the elbow, causing pain.
Top Symptoms: pain in one elbow, swollen elbow, warm and red elbow swelling, elbow pain from an injury, elbow bump
Symptoms that always occur with elbow (olecranon) bursitis: swollen elbow
Overuse elbow injury related to throwing motion
Overhand throwing places extremely high stresses on the elbow. In baseball pitchers and other throwing athletes, these high stresses are repeated many times and can lead to serious overuse injury.
Top Symptoms: pain in one shoulder, shoulder pain from overuse, pain in one elbow, elbow pain from overuse, pain in the pinky side of the elbow
Symptoms that always occur with overuse elbow injury related to throwing motion: pain in one elbow, elbow pain from overuse
Elbow dislocation (radial head subluxation)
Radial head subluxation is a partial dislocation of a bone in the elbow called the radius. Dislocation means the bone slips out of its normal position.
Top Symptoms: pain in one elbow, swollen elbow, difficulty moving the elbow, holding arm close to body because of pain, elbow pain from an injury
Symptoms that always occur with elbow dislocation (radial head subluxation): pain in one elbow
Symptoms that never occur with elbow dislocation (radial head subluxation): elbow locking
Urgency: In-person visit
Ulnar nerve entrapment of elbow
Ulnar nerve entrapment of elbow is also called cubital tunnel syndrome. The ulnar nerve begins at the spinal cord in the neck and runs down the arm into the hand. This very long nerve can become compressed, or entrapped, by other structures at certain points along the way. Entrapment often happens in the cubital tunnel, which is the narrow passage at the inside of the elbow.
The exact cause for entrapment may not be known. Fluid buildup and swelling inside the elbow; previous elbow fracture or dislocation; or leaning on the elbow for long periods of time can put pressure on the ulnar nerve inside the cubital tunnel.
Symptoms include numbness and tingling of the hand and fingers, sometimes leading to weakness and even muscle wasting in the hand.
Diagnosis is made through physical examination, x-ray, and nerve conduction studies.
Treatment begins with wearing a supportive brace and adjusting activities to avoid further irritating the nerve. Surgery is usually not needed unless the nerve compression is causing weakness and loss of use in the hand.
Top Symptoms: hand weakness, weakness in one hand, numbness in one hand, pain in one elbow, pain in one forearm
Urgency: Primary care doctor
Fibromyalgia is a set of chronic symptoms that include ongoing fatigue, diffuse tenderness to touch, musculoskeletal pain, and usually some degree of depression.
The cause is not known. When fibromyalgia appears, it is usually after a stressful physical or emotional event such as an automobile accident or a divorce. It may include a genetic component where the person experiences normal sensation as pain.
Almost 90% of fibromyalgia sufferers are women. Anyone with rheumatic disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, may be more prone to fibromyalgia.
Poor sleep is often a symptom, along with foggy thinking, headaches, painful menstrual periods, and increased sensitivity to heat, cold, bright lights, and loud noises.
There is no standard test for fibromyalgia. The diagnosis is usually made when the above symptoms go on for three months or more with no apparent cause.
Fibromyalgia does not go away on its own but does not get worse, either.
Top Symptoms: fatigue, arthralgias or myalgias, anxiety, depressed mood, headache
Symptoms that always occur with fibromyalgia: arthralgias or myalgias
Urgency: Primary care doctor
Arthritis is a general term for multiple conditions that cause painful inflammation and stiffness throughout the body. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic condition that is autoimmune in nature, meaning that the body's immune system which normally protects the body by attacking foreign pathogens mistakenly begins attacking the own body's tissues. In adults, RA is the most common form of inflammatory arthritis caused by autoimmunity.
RA is caused by the immune system attacking the lining of the joints (synovium). This immune activity results in inflammation in the synovium that causes it to thicken and expand. The thickening destroys the cartilage and bone of the joint and causes the tendons and ligaments of the joint to weaken and stretch.
Over time, the cartilage loss continues, the space between bones becomes smaller, and eventually the joint becomes loose, painful and unstable. As the condition becomes more advanced, RA can also affect multiple organ systems, including the eyes, skin, lungs and the cardiovascular system.
Diagnosis is through physical examination, blood tests, and X-rays.
Treatments include lifestyle modifications, several classes of medications, and sometimes surgery.
Top Symptoms: fatigue, depressed mood, joint pain, muscle aches, daytime sleepiness
Urgency: Primary care doctor
Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Dull Elbow Pain
To diagnose this condition, your doctor would likely ask the following questions:
- How would you explain the cause of your elbow pain?
- Do you currently smoke?
- Where does your elbow hurt most?
- Have someone feel for your pulse (at the wrist) on the side of your body that hurts. Now, turn your head to that side. Does the pulse go away? (This is known as the Adson's test.)
The above questions are also covered by our A.I. Health Assistant.
If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions
Take a quiz to find out why you're having dull elbow pain
Dull Elbow Pain Symptom Checker Statistics
People who have experienced dull elbow pain have also experienced:
- 11% Pain In One Shoulder
- 4% Hand Tingling
- 3% Elbow Pain
People who have experienced dull elbow pain were most often matched with:
- 33% Elbow Sprain
- 33% Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)
- 33% Golfer'S Elbow (Medial Epicondylitis)
People who have experienced dull elbow pain had symptoms persist for:
- 39% Over a month
- 20% Less than a week
- 18% Less than a day
Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).