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The elbow joint is a complicated hinge formed where the Radius and Ulna attach to the Humerus bone. It is with this joint that you are able to bend and rotate your lower arm in relation to your upper arm. Further information on the formation and function of the elbow joint can be found here.
If you suffer from persistent pain in your elbow, then you should speak to your doctor or physiotherapist to identify the cause of the pain. It is possible that your pain could be caused by arthritis. Common signs of elbow arthritis include pain, stiffness and weakness, as well as locking of the joint and sometimes swelling. This condition is most common in middle-aged men who have a history of fractures, and is typically secondary to trauma caused by sports or other activities. The onset of arthritis and even osteoarthritis (the most common form) if you've incurred elbow injuries in the past.
Elbow pain is the clearest symptom of arthritis, and sufferers often experience a grating noise when they move the joint. As the condition progresses, sufferers may find that loose pieces of bone or cartilage get stuck in the joint, restricting the sufferer's range of movement. Using an elbow support can help to support the joint and reduce the amount of pain experienced. Arthritis can be quite debilitating, but it is possible to manage the condition if it is identified early, and many people are able to retain mobility and live a fairly pain-free life thanks to a combination of straps, supports and physiotherapy.
You can relieve elbow pain by using an ice pack on the joint. Ice packs should never be placed directly against the skin and should not be used for periods of more than twenty minutes at a time. Note that whilst ice can help to relieve elbow pain, recent research suggests that using ice on fresh injuries can actually hamper the healing process. If you have a recent, not-yet-diagnosed injury, use a combination of compression and elevation to manage the injury and seek professional medical advice as quickly as possible.
Your physiotherapist will be able to tell you whether your pain is related to elbow arthritis or not, and will be able to offer exercises, pain relief or potentially surgery to help with your problem. You can use resistance bands to improve the strength of your elbow, and you can use therapeutic putty to improve your hand dexterity. Try not to use painkillers unless you absolutely have to, because it is possible to become dependent on certain kinds of painkillers, and others, such as ibuprofen, can irritate your digestive system.
As you can see, elbow pain is something that can be managed, but it is important that you are pro-active in treating it. Using an elbow support can help to keep the joint compressed and supported, stopping you from aggravating it during day-to-day activities. You will need to get a properly fitted support and wear it consistently for the best results. In addition, consider taking joint supplements such as fish oil and glucosamine. These can have a big impact on your day-to-day wellbeing.
For more information on arthritis visit Arthritis Research UK.