Inflammation of the elbow joint: Causes, symptoms and methods and treatment

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Inflammation of the elbow joint is a serious problem that everyone can face. The inflammatory process is always accompanied by severe pain, limited mobility, and other unpleasant symptoms. Such manifestations signal us about the problem. They can not be neglected. At the slightest discomfort in the elbow, you should consult a doctor.

Some patients do not know which doctor to go with such a problem. You can visit an orthopedic traumatologist. He will conduct an examination, prescribe an X-ray examination, according to the results of which he will draw conclusions regarding the localization, intensity, other features of inflammation of the elbow. Sometimes, other diagnostic measures are required to make an accurate diagnosis.

The structure of the elbow joint is complex. Bone, connective, and cartilaginous tissues, numerous arteries, other vessels, and a complex system of nerve endings interact in it. All these components are susceptible to inflammatory processes. The final diagnosis is made depending on the location, the degree of spread of the disease.

Table of Contents

  • The structure of the elbow joint
  • Types of inflammatory processes
  • Reasons for the development of inflammatory processes
  • Main symptoms
  • Diagnostic measures
  • Treatment methods
  • Preventive actions
  • Danger of self-medication or refusal of therapy

The structure of the elbow joint

To understand why inflammation of the elbow joint develops, it is worthwhile to understand the structure of the system.

In the region of the elbow, three bones are connected at once:

  • ulnar
  • radiation
  • humeral.

In this way, three separate small joints are formed, which are connected into one large:

  • shoulder-elbow,
  • brachioradial
  • proximal ray-elbow.

They are combined into a single articular capsule, provide flexion, extension of the elbow, circular rotational movements. Tendons are attached to the bones that connect them to the adductors and abductor muscles. Here, a lot of nerve endings and blood vessels are concentrated, which provide nutrition to the joint, saturation with useful substances for the normal functioning of the musculoskeletal system.

Each element of the joint is prone to inflammatory processes. In this way, various diseases develop. The effectiveness of treatment depends on the correct diagnosis. If you do not consult a doctor, then the inflammation will spread to other parts of the joint, serious complications will arise. To restore health, the main functions of the musculoskeletal system will be difficult.

Types of inflammatory processes

The following types of diseases are distinguished depending on the location and degree of spread of inflammation of the elbow:

  • bursitis,
  • epicondylitis,
  • synovitis
  • ligamentitis.

Bursitis is an inflammation of the entire joint bag. The disease occurs due to injuries, frequent mechanical irritation of the joint, overstrain. Men often suffer from this ailment. The pain with bursitis is acute, it is constantly felt, does not subside, and a noticeable swelling and redness forms in the elbow. If inflammation is not removed in time, then suppuration forms on the surface of the joint bag.

To avoid sepsis, surgery is prescribed with an abscess. This zone is treated with antiseptic compounds. After surgery, healing takes a long time. if the pus is not completely cleaned, there is a risk of relapse. Therefore, with the first symptoms of inflammation of the elbow joint, treatment should be started immediately under the supervision of an experienced doctor.

Epicondylitis – inflammation develops at the site of attachment of the tendons of the elbow joint to the humerus. The pain is pulling, it increases significantly if the patient makes rotational movements with the brush. It occurs due to frequent microtraumas.

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Professional athletes, people who work hard physically, face this disease. To get rid of the disease forever, it is not enough to use anti-inflammatory drugs. It is necessary to limit the mobility of the joint so that new microtrauma does not occur in the affected area. To do this, use a special bandage. The duration of wearing is negotiated with the doctor.

Synovitis is a type of bursitis, in which not the entire joint bag inflames, but only its synovial membrane. It is this zone that is rich in vessels, nerve endings that are affected during the development of the inflammatory process.

The pain with synovitis is intense, it is difficult to tolerate, and conventional painkillers do not bring proper relief. The treatment is carried out by physiotherapeutic methods. When fluid accumulates in the joint cavity, puncture is performed.

Ligamentitis is an inflammation of the ligaments of the elbow joint. This disease is rare, develops due to trauma or severe sprain. During treatment, the complete rest of the affected area is important, therefore the elbow is fixed with an elastic bandage or a special bandage.

Reasons for the development of inflammatory processes

Inflammation of the elbow joint develops as an independent disease or as a result of other ailments – arthritis, arthrosis, rheumatism.

The causes of inflammation are many:

  • infectious processes in the body;
  • joint injuries;
  • constant overvoltage of this zone;
  • stretching;
  • hypothermia
  • weakened immunity;
  • metabolic disorders in the body;
  • hereditary factors;
  • autoimmune processes.

Having identified the root cause of the disease, it will be easier to deal with it. Therefore, it is so important to consult a doctor, undergo a full examination, to understand why inflammation occurred. In this way, the risks of future relapse can be minimized.

If inflammation occurs due to another underlying disease, then it is considered a symptom in complex treatment. It is important to identify the ailment that caused inflammation in the elbow joint and eliminate the consequences.

Sometimes inflammation occurs for no apparent reason. It is important to be observed by a doctor who will be able to objectively assess the patient’s condition, the dynamics of recovery.

Main symptoms

You should know the symptoms of inflammation of the elbow joint, so that if they occur, immediately seek medical help from doctors:

  • severe pain in the joint, sometimes extending to the shoulder or wrist;
  • limited elbow mobility;
  • crunching, other extraneous sounds when bending;
  • severe swelling of soft tissues, swelling;
  • discoloration of the skin in the affected area;
  • fever.

If any of these symptoms are detected, you should immediately consult a doctor to get the necessary medical care. The doctor will definitely conduct an examination, as a result of which he will be able to draw conclusions regarding localization, the degree of development of inflammation, the specific disease that provoked him. Additional examinations are needed only to confirm the guesses.

It is not necessary to endure pain for a long time or try to get rid of it in folkways, it is fraught with the fact that the inflammation will spread to other organs and systems.

Diagnostic measures

If the patient goes to the doctor at an early stage of development of inflammation of the ligaments, tendons of the elbow joint or other parts, then you can determine the degree of tissue damage after an x-ray examination. The lesions and their localization are visible in the images. This information will be enough to understand how to treat the patient.

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When contacting a medical institution at a late stage of the disease, the doctor may need additional information to draw conclusions about the patient’s condition. He is prescribed a CT scan or an MRI scan. Modern methods of functional diagnostics make it possible to examine not only bone tissue but also determine the state of soft, connective tissues.

Treatment methods

A specific technique for treating inflammation of the elbow joint is prescribed after making an accurate diagnosis, determining the stage of development of the disease.

In medical practice, the following types of therapy are used:

  • taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs;
  • complete or partial immobilization of the limb;
  • physiotherapy;
  • Exercise therapy;
  • short-term use of corticosteroids in severe forms of the inflammatory process;
  • surgery for significant joint damage.

First, you need to remove the acute condition, for this, medication is prescribed at home. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs – Ibuprofen, Diclofenac, Meloxicam, Nimesulide, quickly relieve inflammation, pain, reduce fever. A specific medicine is prescribed by a doctor after diagnosis. He also adjusts the dose, frequency, duration of admission.

In advanced cases with severe pain, swelling and destruction of the tissues of the elbow, emergency measures are necessary. The patient is prescribed injections of hormonal drugs into the affected area. Corticosteroids act quickly, removing all unpleasant sensations, but are used only as a last resort because they have many side effects. They are forbidden to use for a long time.

If the cause of the development of the inflammatory process is a bacterial infection, antibiotics are prescribed. To do this, the patient preliminarily passes tests, which show which particular bacterium provoked the disease, to which antibiotics it is sensitive. Self-medication with antibacterial drugs is prohibited.

When the patient’s condition stabilizes, he is offered to undergo a course of physiotherapy, exercise therapy to restore joint functions. Subject to the recommendations of the doctor and instructor, such measures are effective.

With the accumulation of pus in the affected area, a puncture or other surgical intervention is prescribed. Sometimes you can’t do without such events.

Preventive actions

To avoid inflammation of the elbow, you should adhere to a number of tips and recommendations:

  • lead an active lifestyle, engage in physical education;
  • Do not physically overload the joints;
  • provide a balanced diet;
  • avoid hypothermia;
  • at the slightest discomfort, consult a doctor.

In this way, you will preserve the integrity of the joints until old age, ensure the health of the entire musculoskeletal system.

The danger of self-medication or refusal of therapy

For diseases of the elbow, it is important to immediately contact a medical institution. Do not expect that inflammation will disappear on its own. Only a doctor can assess the condition of the patient, the degree of tissue damage.

The danger of self-medication is that the disease can recur, go into a chronic form. In the focus of the disease, destructive processes are launched, bone, cartilage, connective and soft tissues are deformed, the elbow does not perform functions.

Given the complex structure of the elbow, it is impossible to replace it with an artificial endoprosthesis with significant damage. Over time, the hand will simply not perform its basic functions. You cannot lift it, bend it, carry weights, write, or work on a computer. Do not be so neglectful about health. See your traumatologist for elbow pain to get effective treatment right away.


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