Elbow Swelling

Information on the causes of joint pain, swelling and inflammation of the elbows.

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  1. What Causes Elbow Swelling?
  2. More Information on Elbow Swelling

What Causes Elbow Swelling?

Swelling of the elbow can be a frustrating problem that can cause your elbow to feel stiff and tight and limit your ability to move and straighten your arm. While it is a common complaint after injury; there are a number of other causes of elbow swelling. If swelling comes on suddenly after injury or trauma, is accompanied by severe pain or fever, or if it lasts longer than 48 hours then it is important to seek medical attention.

Possible causes of an inflamed elbow include:

  • Olecranon bursitis
  • Tennis Elbow
  • Golfer's elbow
  • Arthritis
  • Gout
  • Lupus
  • Dislocation
  • Septic bursitis or infection of the bursa
  • Sprain or torn ligament
  • Torn or damaged cartilage
  • A bone fracture

More Information on Elbow Swelling

Tips for elbow swelling
  • If you have elbow swelling that lasts longer than 48 hours, or is accompanied by intense pain or a fever, then you should seek medical attention where a proper diagnosis can be made and any underlying conditions ruled out.
  • Give your elbow time to rest and heal. Avoid putting weight or pressure on the swollen elbow as much as possible until the swelling has gone down.
  • Use a cold compress. Wrap some crushed ice in a cloth and keep it on your elbow for 20 minutes on to help reduce pain and swelling. Repeat this every 2-4 hours.
  • If you suffer from arthritis then it is important to keep up with stretching and toning exercises. These exercises can help to warm and stretch the muscles and are especially useful after long periods of rest.
  • Regular exercise to improve muscle tone and fitness can be very beneficial. Remember not to push yourself too hard if you are unfit. Choose a gentle exercise that won’t cause pain such as yoga or swimming.
  • Do not lean on your elbows too much. This added pressure on the elbow joint can cause irritation and inflammation.
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