Gradual Onset Elbow & Forearm Pain

Common Injuries

Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)

Degeneration and inflammation of the wrist/forearm extensor tendons where they attach to the outer aspect of the elbow (lateral epicondyle). Associated with pain or ache at the outer aspect of the elbow, tenderness on firmly touching the affected tendons and often pain and stiffness first thing in the morning.

Golfers Elbow (Medial Epicondylitis)
Degeneration and inflammation of the wrist/forearm flexor tendons where they attach to the inner aspect of the elbow (medial epicondyle). Associated with pain or ache at the inner aspect of the elbow, tenderness on firmly touching the affected tendons and often pain and stiffness first thing in the morning.
Referred Pain

Pain referred into the elbow and forearm from another source such as the neck or upper back, frequently associated with symptoms above or below the elbow and forearm (such as the shoulder, arm, wrist or finger) and in the referring area (e.g. neck or upper back). Typically associated with pain on firmly touching the region responsible for the referred pain and/or loss of movement in that region. Sometimes in association with pins and needles or numbness in the affected arm or hand.

Olecranon Bursitis
Pain or ache located in the region of the olecranon caused by an inflamed bursa and associated with pain on firmly touching the olecranon bursa and usually significant swelling. Often associated with pain and stiffness first thing in the morning.

MCL Tear
Tearing of the medial collateral ligament of the elbow, typically due to repetitive stress often caused by throwing. It’s can lead to pain when firmly touching the medial collateral ligament of the elbow and often swelling.

Less Common Injuries

Tricep Tendonitis

Degeneration and inflammation of the triceps tendon associated with pain or ache located at the back of the elbow. Often associated with pain and stiffness first thing in the morning and tenderness on firmly touching the tendon.

Biceps Tendonitis
Degeneration and inflammation of the biceps tendon associated with pain or ache located at the front of the elbow. Often associated with pain and stiffness first thing in the morning and tenderness on firmly touching the biceps tendon.

Elbow Impingement
Pain in the back of the elbow due to compression or pinching of structures at the back of the elbow joint during maximal elbow extension (straightening of the elbow). Often results in an inability to fully straighten the elbow.

Ulnar Nerve Compression
Compression of the ulnar nerve as it passes the inner aspect of the elbow often due to a direct impact or repetitive stresses. Associated with pain at the back/inner aspect of the elbow and forearm and pins and needles or numbness in the little finger and half of the ring finger. Tenderness may also be present on firmly touching the ulnar nerve at the inner aspect of the elbow.

Diagnosis of elbow & forearm pain
A thorough subjective and objective examination from a physiotherapist is usually sufficient to diagnose the cause of elbow pain or forearm pain. Investigations such as an X-ray, ultrasound, MRI, CT scan or nerve conduction studies are often required to confirm diagnosis and rule out other injuries.