What Is Elbow Pain?
The elbow is the meeting point of many nerves and blood vessels as they pass from the upper to the lower arm. The elbow is made up of three long bones, which are connected by muscles, ligaments and tendons. The three bones are:
- The humerus – the large upper arm bone
- The ulna and
- The radius – the two bones in the forearm
Looking at the forearm with the palm of your hand facing up, the ulna is located on the inner (medial) aspect of the forearm. The radius is located on the outer (lateral) aspect of the forearm. The radius and ulna meet in the elbow to allow for rotation of the forearm. The elbow functions to move the arm like a hinge (forward and backward) and in rotation (twisting outward and inward). The muscles that move the fingers and wrists originate at the elbow. The biceps muscle is the major muscle that flexes the elbow hinge. The triceps muscle is the major muscle that extends the elbow hinge.
Some of the many circumstances that may contribute to elbow injuries include:
- lack of strength or flexibility in the forearm muscles
- lack of strength in the shoulder muscles
- instability of the elbow joint
- poor technique during sporting activities (especially tennis and golf) that puts too much strain on the elbow joint
- inappropriate sporting equipment, such as using a heavy tennis racquet or having the wrong sized grip on a tennis racquet or golf club
- repetitive movements of the hands and arms, such as working on an assembly line
- continuously making the muscles and joint take heavy loads
- other factors such as neck symptoms or nerve irritation.