Swelling on the elbow

Elbow swelling, which may be localized at a specific point as in tennis elbow or golfers elbow can also be associated with or without pain. Elbow joint swelling where the entire joint is swollen can be from arthritis, infections, fractures or severe ligament damage. The swelling creates stiffness and pain on movement and can sometimes throb.

Swelling is a protection mechanism and indicates that an injury as occurred, but can also indicate a direct trauma incident where there as been a bleed to create a lump on the elbow. Injuries and conditions that cause this symptom are listed below:
  • Golfer's Elbow

    Golfers Elbow

    Golfer's elbow or medial epicondylitis is an overuse injury similar to tennis elbow (on the outside of the arm) but causing pain on the inside of the elbow instead. The elbow injury usually comes on gradually over a period of time, rather than eing an acute pain. It is sometimes known as thrower's elbow or little league elbow. We explain the symptoms, causes, and treatment to return you back to full fitness in the shortest time.

  • Elbow Bursitis - Students Elbow

    Elbow Bursitis

    Elbow bursitis also known as Students elbow or Olecranon bursitis is the inflammation and swelling of the bursa which protects the end of the ulna bone at the back of the elbow. Repeatedly leaning on elbows (like many students do) can cause pain as the bursa can become inflamed. This elbow injury could also be caused by a direct impact. Read more on the symptoms, causes and treatements for this injury.

  • Olecranon Fracture

    Olecranon Fracture

    The olecranon process the large bony prominence at the back of the elbow on the ulna forearm bone. It is usually fractured from a direct impact or fall onto a bent elbow. Intense elbow pain, swelling and tenderness at the back of the elbow are common symptoms of this injury. Read more on the treatment of Olecranon fracture.

  • Broken Elbow

    Broken Elbow

    An elbow fracture is a break in one of the bones which form the elbow joint. There are three bones which could be broken: the Humerus (upper arm bone), Ulna and Radius (two forearm bones). This elbow injury can be caused by a fall or a hard impact, and especially because there can be further potential complications, medical assistance should be sought immediately.

  • Dislocated Elbow

    Dislocated Elbow

    Elbow dislocations are the second most common dislocations in adults, behind the shoulder. The elbow is a very stable joint and so it requires a lot of force to dislocate it. Severe pain and obvious deformity are the common symptoms for this elbow injury, which is normally caused by a fall or direct impact. Read an explanation of elbow dislocations, treatments and how to rehabilitate after the injury.

  • Medial Elbow Ligament Sprain

    Medial Elbow Ligament Sprain

    The medial collateral (MCL) ligament of the elbow is situated on the inner elbow and helps to provide stability to the joint. Damage to this ligament can occur from an impact injury or from repetitive oversuse, for example throwing with poor technique. Symptoms can include inside elbow pain and tenderness, read below for more information on the symptoms, causes and treatments.

  • Biceps Tendonitis

    Biceps Tendonitis

    Biceps tendonitis results in pain and inflammation of the biceps tendon as it inserts into the inside of the elbow. Inner elbow pain caused by the inflamed tendon may be exacerbated by certain activities like writing. Read more on what you can do to treat this elbow injury, from rest and ice to electrotherapy and rehabilitation exercises.

  • Osteochondritis Dissecans

    Osteochondritis Dissecans is a fragmentation of the cartilage and sometimes the underlying bone within a joint. This is common in adolescents as the ends of the bones are not yet fully hardened. This elbow injury can be caused and exacerbated by throwing sports, so resting from this activity can help to ease the pain. Read more on the symptoms, causes and treatments. 

  • Synovitis of the Elbow Joint

    Elbow Synovitis

    Synovitis of the elbow joint is inflammation of the synovial membrane which surrounds the joint. Symptoms include elbow joint pain and redness over the area. However, Synovitis is itself ususally caused by another condition, including an injury to the joint or an illness like cancer. Because of this, Synovitis can indicate a serious problem so getting medical advice is essential.

  • Elbow Avulsion Fracture

    Avulsion fracture of the medial epicondyle is when the tendon comes away from the bone and can take part of the bone with it. This elbow injury is more common in children with symptoms similar to a sprain. These can include elbow pain, swelling and reduced ability to move the arm. Read more on avulsion fractures, their symptoms and how to treat them.

  • Elbow Apophysitis

    Apophysitis is a condition affecting children and adolescents and is a crumbling of the bone at the point the tendon attaches to. It is similar to apophysitis in the knee (Osgood Schlatter disease) or at the back of the heel (Severs' disease). Apophysitis is usually something children will grow out of by the age of 16 or 17 although the condition does need to be managed properly with plenty of rest. Applying ice or cold therapy can help reduce pain and inflammation.

  • Biceps Tendon Strain

    Biceps tendon strain at its insertion on the inside or front of the elbow is rare but has been known in weightlifting and other strength type sports and activities. A tear of the tendon may follow a period of biceps tendinitis that is not treated and managed correctly.

  • Elbow Hyperextension

    Elbow Hyperextension

    An elbow hyperextension injury occurs when the elbow is bent back the wrong way. This over-straightening causes damage to the ligaments and structures of the elbow. Like several elbow injuries, this often occurs in contact sports like rugby, and causes instant pain. Ice, compression and taping are some of the ways this injury can be treated.

  • Lateral Elbow Pain

    The most common term for pain on the outside of the elbow is Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis). However, there are a number of other causes of lateral elbow pain which should be considered as well as acute elbow injuries such as ligament sprains and fractures. Other potential causes of pain on the outside of the elbow include referred pain, radial tunnel syndrome, synovitis, bursitis and osteochondritis dissecans.

  • Medial Elbow Pain

    A medial elbow is a pain on the inside of the elbow. It usually comes on gradually through overuse but can also be an acute injury, especially when throwing. Golfer's elbow or throwers elbow is probably the most common name given to pain on the inside of the elbow and refers to inflammation or degeneration of the flexor tendon. Other causes include sprains (ligament tears), nerve compression, avulsion fractures apophysitis and pain referred from the upper back or shoulder.