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At one time or another, everyone has had an elbow problem that may
have caused pain or swelling. Most of the time our body movements do not cause
problems, but it's not surprising that symptoms develop from everyday wear and
tear or overuse.
Elbow problems can be minor or serious and may
include symptoms such as pain, swelling, numbness, tingling, weakness, or
changes in temperature or color. Home treatment often can relieve minor aches
and pains. To better understand elbow problems, you may want to review the
structure and function of the elbow. See a picture of the
Most people may not remember
having a specific injury when their symptoms get worse over time, but overuse
problems are actual injuries. They occur when too much stress is placed on a
joint or other tissue, often when you overdo an
activity or repeat an activity over and over. Overuse
Treatment for an elbow problem may include first aid
measures; application of a brace, splint, or cast;
physical therapy; or medicine.
Check your symptoms to decide if and when you should see a
Many things can affect how your body responds to a symptom and what kind
of care you may need. These include:
Pain in adults and older children
Based on your answers, you may need care right away. The problem is likely to get worse without medical care.
Based on your answers, you may need care soon. The
problem probably will not get better without medical care.
Symptoms of infection may
Certain health conditions and medicines weaken the immune system's ability to fight off infection and
illness. Some examples in adults are:
Based on your answers, you need
Call911or other emergency services now.
Based on your answers, the problem may not improve without medical
When an area turns blue, very pale, or cold, it can mean that there has been a sudden change in the blood
supply to the area. This can be serious.
There are other reasons
for color and temperature changes. Bruises often look blue. A limb may turn
blue or pale if you leave it in one position for too long, but its normal color
returns after you move it. What you are looking for is a change in how the area
looks (it turns blue or pale) and feels (it becomes cold to the touch), and
this change does not go away.
Pain in children under 3 years
It can be hard to tell how much pain a baby or toddler is in.
Pain in children 3 years and older
You have answered all the questions. Based on your answers, you may be
able to take care of this problem at home.
Most minor elbow problems go away
on their own. Home treatment is usually all that is needed to relieve your
Home treatment may
help relieve pain, swelling, and stiffness.
Talk to your child's doctor before switching back and
forth between doses of acetaminophen and ibuprofen. When you switch between two
medicines, there is a chance your child will get too much medicine.
Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home
The following tips may prevent elbow
To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.
You can help your
doctor diagnose and treat your condition by being prepared to answer the
February 18, 2013
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
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