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Home > Patient & Family Resources > Health Library > Elbow Problems, Noninjury
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 elbow.
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 injuries include:
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 doctor.
Many things can affect how your body responds to a symptom and what kind of care you may need. These include:
You have answered all the questions. Based on your answers, you may be able to take care of this problem at home.
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 adults and older children
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
Symptoms of infection may include:
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, the problem may not improve without medical care.
Based on your answers, you need emergency care.
Call911or other emergency services now.
Based on your answers, you may need care soon. The problem probably will not get better without medical care.
Based on your answers, you may need care right away. The problem is likely to get worse without medical care.
Most minor elbow problems go away on their own. Home treatment is usually all that is needed to relieve your symptoms.
Home treatment may help relieve pain, swelling, and stiffness.
Try a nonprescription medicine to help treat your fever or pain:
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.
Be sure to follow these safety tips when you use a nonprescription medicine:
Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home treatment:
The following tips may prevent elbow problems.
To prepare for your appointment, see the topicMaking the Most of Your Appointment.
You can help your doctor diagnose and treat your condition by being prepared to answer the following questions:
Current as of: June 26, 2019
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency MedicineKathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Current as of:
June 26, 2019
Medical Review:William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
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