Topic Overview

Bursitis or a
tendon injury (tendinopathy) in the elbow causes
soreness or pain in the elbow region, particularly when the arm is in motion.
Pressing on the affected area will also cause pain.

The epicondyles are the bony bumps you can feel on the inside and
outside of your elbow. Tendinopathy or epicondylopathy is a term used by a
growing number of tendon experts to describe tendinitis (inflammation) and
tendinosis (microtears) collectively. These terms aren’t yet universally used.
Your doctor may still use the term tendinitis or epicondylitis to
describe tendon injuries to the inner or outer elbow. “Tennis elbow” (lateral
epicondylopathy) is a tendon injury that causes pain on the outside of the
elbow. “Golfer’s elbow” (medial epicondylopathy) causes pain on the inside of
the elbow.

See a picture of the elbow’s
olecranon bursa. Bursitis here causes pain over the point and back of the elbow.

To prevent and ease elbow pain during work, play, or daily

  • Strengthen your wrist, arm, shoulder, and back
    muscles to help protect your elbow.
  • Do
    range-of-motion and light stretching exercises each
    day to prevent stiffness in the joint.
  • Use the correct techniques
    or positions during activities so that you don’t strain your
  • Use equipment appropriate to your size, strength, and
  • Avoid leaning on the point of your elbow for prolonged
  • Don’t overuse your arm doing repeated movements that can
    injure a
    bursa or tendon.
    Alternate hands during activities if possible, such as when raking, sweeping,
    or gardening.
  • During specific sports activities:
    • Use a two-handed tennis backhand and a
      flexible midsize racquet.
    • Avoid hitting divots with a golf
    • Avoid sidearm pitching and throwing curveballs.
  • Talk to your doctor about wearing an
    elbow sleeve, sling, or brace to rest a joint or to protect the joint area
    during an activity. These devices can be helpful. But they can cause joint
    stiffness and weakness if used for too long.


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP – Emergency Medicine
Adam Husney, MD – Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Kenneth J. Koval, MD – Orthopedic Surgery, Orthopedic Trauma

Current as ofMarch 21, 2017