Elbow Pain

The annual incidence of tennis elbow in general practice is 4-7 cases per 1,000 patients, with a peak in patients 35-54 years of age. The peak incidence is between 40 and 50 years of age.

Elbow pain is an extremely common complaint, and there are many common causes of this problem. It is important to make an accurate diagnosis of the cause of your symptoms so that appropriate treatment can be directed at the cause. If you have elbow pain, some common causes include:

Lateral Epicondylitis

The most common cause of elbow pain is lateral epicondylitis, also called tennis elbow. Patients with lateral epicondylitis have pain over the outside of the joint and difficulty gripping objects. Interestingly, most patients with lateral epicondylitis are not tennis players.

Medial Epicondylitis

Similar to lateral epicondylitis, medial epicondylitis, or golfer’s elbow, causes discomfort around the joint. However, the symptoms of medial epicondylitis are on the inner side of the joint. Again, most patients with this condition are not golfers.

Olecranon Bursitis

Bursitis is most common behind the elbow joint. When a patient has olecranon bursitis, they usually have swelling and tenderness behind the joint over the bony prominence called the olecranon. Infections of the bursa can complicate the treatment of olecranon bursitis.


Tendonitis can occur in any of the tendons that surround the joint. The most common types of tendonitis that cause elbow pain are biceps tendonitis (in front of the joint) and triceps tendonitis (in the back of the joint).

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

Cubital tunnel syndrome occurs when there is compression of the ulnar nerve as is wraps around the inside of the joint causing elbow pain. Cubital tunnel syndrome can also cause shooting pains along the forearm and numbness and tingling of the fingers.

Radial Tunnel Syndrome

Radial tunnel syndrome is an uncommon condition that causes nerve compression of the radial nerve. Most often, this diagnosis is considered in patients who are thought to have lateral epicondylitis, but do not improve.

Elbow Fractures

Broken bones can occur abound the elbow after injuries such as falls, sports injuries, and car accidents. The most common elbow fractures are olecranon fractures and radial head fractures.