ZocdocAnswersWhat is wrong with my elbow?

Question

What is wrong with my elbow?

For nearly a year I've experienced elbow pain. If I lift anything over 15 pounds the outside part of my elbow hurts and swells, specifically the anconeus muscle, which swells quite a bit. My doctor ruled out tennis elbow and triceps tendonitis. I experience pain during forearm supination, and during eccentric motions, such as the lowering portion of a bicep curl. There is no pain at rest, only when weight is applied. The problem doesn't seem to ever go away though, even when I avoid use for months. My MRI showed edema at the UCL, everything else was normal, but my issues are on the outside of the elbow. My doctors are stumped and can't give me any answers. Any ideas?

Answer

I am sorry you are experiencing these persistent symptoms. It is difficult to make a definitive diagnosis without an in-person evaluation or an opportunity to review your MRI results. Therefore, I recommend you seek consultation with an orthopedist who specializes in elbow disorders. Many large orthopedic practices or academic medical centers should have orthopedists who specifically specialize in this. There are multiple ligaments and tendons that control your elbow function. For instance, an injury of the forearm supinator itself can cause pain with supination, and a biceps injury can cause pain during a curling motion. In addition, several nerves and blood vessels course through the joint. Your physician will need to perform a thorough physical exam to help determine if any of these are causing problems. In addition, there are several bursa, or fluid filled sacs that provide cushioning, within the elbow, and these can become painful and inflamed. In many instances, first line therapy for an orthopedic injury includes short periods of ice pack application, physical therapy, and a defined course of NSAID (such as ibuprofen) therapy. Again, the appropriate therapy for you will depend on an evaluation by a specialist. NSAIDs may not be safe for all patients, and I recommend you discuss treatment options with your orthopedist.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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