Elbow pain can feel like an inconvenience when it begins to interfere with your daily activities. Often time will ease the discomfort. However, elbow pain can be more serious than just a nagging distraction. So how do you know when to see an orthopaedic surgeon for an assessment and when to trust that time and rest will be enough?
The elbow is a complex joint made up of bones, cartilage, nerves and ligaments. Elbow pain can be caused by a number of different things. Overuse is one of the most common causes of this type of injury. Doing a repetitive motion such as throwing, lifting or swinging can produce wear and tear on the joint, resulting in pain.
In addition to overuse injuries, other reasons for experiencing pain in your elbow joint include, arthritis, a strain or sprain of the joint, a fracture, a dislocated elbow or trapped nerves. All of these issues can produce pain but the severity can vary significantly. Just as there are many different causes for this type of pain, there are different methods of treatment depending on the diagnosis.
When to See an Orthopaedic Surgeon
If your pain is keeping you from performing daily activities, it is possible that the injury needs medical attention. Trying to care for your elbow pain at home with rest, ice, compression and elevation (R.I.C.E.) can often times be enough. However, when the pain does not subside with these approaches, it is likely necessary to see an orthopaedic surgeon. If you are experiencing severe pain, swelling and bruising or are unable to fully extend and/or bend your elbow, it would be beneficial to get in to see a doctor. If your pain increases over time, an orthopaedic surgeon could help determine the best treatment plan. When in doubt, it is always wise to rule out anything serious by making a trip to see your doctor.