Why Does My Elbow Hurt?

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Published:  April 19, 2021

One of the most common causes of elbow pain is lateral epicondylitis.

Lateral epicondylitis, commonly known as tennis elbow, is a condition that causes pain in and around your elbow and forearm. It is most commonly found in your dominant arm, and usually starts as gradual discomfort that worsens with time.

Pain in your elbow caused by lateral epicondylitis is a result of inflammation in the tendons that connect your forearm muscle to your elbow.


The most common cause of tennis elbow is overuse or repetitive motion of the forearm muscle.  Given the name, people often associate tennis elbow with athletes, however, this condition can affect anyone. People whose jobs require repetitive motion and extension of the forearm can develop tennis elbow. It is commonly seen in painters, carpenters, cooks, and plumbers.


Usually, symptoms of tennis elbow begin with mild pain in your dominant arm located around the outside of your elbow. Pain can often travel down to your forearm and wrist, weakening your grip strength.

The most common symptoms include:

  • Pain and burning around the outer part of your elbow.
  • Loss of grip strength: Many people have difficulty turning a door knob, opening jars, or power gripping.


Most elbow pain caused by lateral epicondylitis can be managed with at-home treatments such as rest, ice, and over-the-counter anti-inflammatories.

When to see your orthopedic surgeon

If your elbow pain persists after 4 – 6 weeks of at-home remedies, consider seeing an orthopedic surgeon. In most cases, your surgeon will recommend starting with minimally invasive treatment options such as physical therapy or injections. If non-operative treatments are not successful, surgery may be recommended.