Elbow pain can be caused by a variety of problems. A common cause in adults is tendinitis, an inflammation and injury to the tendons -- soft tissues that attach muscle to bone.
People who play racquet sports are most likely to injure the tendons on the outside of the elbow. This condition is commonly called tennis elbow. Golfers are more likely to injure the tendons on the inside of the elbow.
Other common causes of elbow tendinitis are gardening, playing baseball, using a screwdriver, or overusing your wrist and arm.
Young children commonly develop "nursemaid's elbow," usually when someone is pulling on their straightened arm. The bones are stretched apart momentarily and a ligament slips in between, where it becomes trapped when the bones try to snap back into place. Children will usually quietly refuse to use the arm, but often cry out with any attempt to bend or straighten the elbow. This condition is also called an elbow subluxation (a partial dislocation).
Other common causes of elbow pain are:
- Bursitis -- inflammation of a fluid-filled cushion beneath the skin
- Arthritis -- narrowing of the joint space and loss of cartilage in the elbow
- Elbow strains
- Infection of the elbow