Elbow pain can be caused by a variety of medical issues, including arthritis, bursitis, tendonitis, or a fracture. In some cases, the cause is unknown and can need further testing for diagnosis. Elbow pain is often eased after rest and home treatments such as icing and over-the-counter medications. However, if your symptoms persist, you may need to seek specialist medical advice to identify a cause and determine the best treatment. Blackrock Health has a recognised expertise in joints and orthopaedics. Working with you, we can help diagnose, manage and treat your elbow pain.
Blackrock Health is home to some of the most established private orthopaedic faculties in Ireland. We can carry out minimally invasive surgeries in hi-tech facilities across all our hospitals. We offer comprehensive musculoskeletal care, with dedicated inpatient orthopaedic and spinal wards. If you have day-case surgery, our team will care for you on our comfortable day wards.
We offer the full range of orthopaedics, including consultation, diagnosis, treatment, and aftercare. Our orthopaedic consultants are internationally recognised and conduct thousands of procedures every year. Our hospitals have expert multi-disciplinary teams - including clinical nurse specialists and physiotherapists. And we use the latest technology, from robot surgery to spinal navigation techniques and real-time imaging.
Blackrock Clinic is also one of the first private hospitals in Ireland to use the Irish National Orthopaedic Register (INOR). This is a national database informing on orthopaedic surgeries and outcomes in Ireland. The aim of this register is to improve patient outcomes. Both the Hermitage Clinic and Galway Clinic are expected to enrol with INOR in 2023.
You can access our services quickly and easily with a referral from your GP and can then enjoy world-class clinical care and comfort. Over 75% of our rooms are single occupancy - to help you make a quicker recovery in a safe environment. We aim to provide you with best possible outcome, and to restore your quality of life.
What conditions may cause elbow pain?
It is important to be cautious when researching your medical symptoms on the internet. Online research is not a replacement for seeing a qualified medical professional. The information you find can often lead to an incorrect diagnosis or improper treatment. Bearing this in mind, here are some common issues that cause elbow pain.
An inflammation of the tendons and muscles that control wrist and finger motion. Patients will feel this on the inner aspect of the elbow joint, and it is often caused by overuse or sudden increased use - such as playing tennis or golf .
A similar condition to tennis elbow, but experienced on the outer aspect of the elbow joint. This is caused by repeated motions in sports that needs repetitive arm movements. This includes golfing, weightlifting, or any sport with a throwing motion.
Inflammation of the small sacs that cushion the bones from tissues around it. This may be caused by an injury or strain on the joint area, or by arthritis.
An inflammation of the tendon that occurs when too much stress is placed around the joint. This may occur after a fall, because of repetitive movements, or due to degeneration.
Ligament sprains or tears
This is common among athletes who participate in contact sports. It happens when there is excessive force applied to one side of the elbow. This can then cause damage to ligaments supporting the joint structure.
This is the wear-and-tear arthritis caused by gradual breakdown of cartilage in joints. When cartilage wears away, bones rub against each other. This creates stiffness, swelling, and pain in the joint area including elbows.
Our Upper Limb Specialists
Patients with elbow complaints are treated by the upper limb consultant specialists. You'll find these in the orthopaedic departments in one of our two Dublin hospitals. You can see a list of our orthopaedic consultants across these locations at the bottom of this page. With a GP referral, you can make an appointment directly with the practice secretaries.
Our Consultant Radiologists work closely with the Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeons. Together, they aim to find a swift diagnosis and the very best treatment plan for all their patients. Here are some of the tests we can offer to help diagnose the cause of your elbow pain.
An X-ray can be used to diagnose any structural changes in the tissues and bones in the knee, such as fractures or arthritis.
An ultrasound scan is used to check for signs of tendonitis, bursitis, or joint inflammation in the elbow.
An MRI may be ordered to assess soft tissue structure, or to rule out other potential causes of elbow pain like tumours or fractures that have not been diagnosed on X-ray.
A CT scan allows doctors to see detailed images of structures within the body to help identify sources of pain. They can provide more information about underlying conditions like arthritis or ligament tears.
Nerve Conduction Studies (NCS) test:
This test measures nerve function. It allows doctors to determine whether there is nerve damage or compression that could contribute to elbow pain.
This test measures muscle electrical activity along with nerve conduction. It is measured with electrodes inserted into muscles near the elbow. This test can help detect any abnormalities that might be causing pain.
What kind of treatments and procedures can we offer to patients with elbow pain?
For the most common conditions, rest is often the best medicine. For both tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow, continuing to use the affected joint can cause further irritation and inflammation.
Physiotherapy is another useful treatment. Our physio team can provides strengthening exercises that are specific to your injury and its severity. These exercises will help strengthen muscles in the forearm, around the elbow joint - and so reduce your pain levels.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen or aspirin may also be prescribed. These will help reduce pain and inflammation in the elbow.
Corticosteroid injections are also sometimes used. These are only considered if other medications and treatments have not succeeded in reducing your pain levels.
There are also supporting or secondary treatment options that may help relieve symptoms. These include ultrasound therapy, massage therapy, hot and cold therapy (such as heating pads), or acupuncture. We can discuss all options with you, depending on your individual needs.
While most elbow conditions respond to non-surgical treatment, there are some which require surgery. This line of treatment is only pursued if other treatment options have not delivered the hoped-for results. Surgery can significantly improve ones quality of life, but it is an invasive procedure. This can be associated with potential risks and complications.
What can you expect after attending Blackrock Health with elbow pain?
The underlying causes of elbow pain can vary greatly and are often complex. While self-care and nonsurgical therapies can succeed at managing symptoms, some cases may need surgery. No matter which approach you choose, the best path to avoiding chronic elbow pain is to get an accurate diagnosis. We can then give you comprehensive guidance from our team. With their expertise, we aim to reduce elbow pain and optimise your mobility.
How do I get this?
If you are awaiting a diagnosis from your GP, you may need a referral letter before you make an appointment. If you are referring for a physiotherapy consultation, you can contact us directly.
Is this insured?
Not all services are covered by health insurance. To find out if you're covered, please check your health insurance before your visit. You can do this on our health insurance Cover Check page here, or by contacting your health insurer.
How do I pay?
If you do not have health insurance or your health plan does not cover the full cost, you will need to pay the balance due before your treatment or procedure. You may be able to claim back some fees on your insurance. To pay an excess not covered by your insurance or any other inpatient fees, please visit our payment page here. If you have any queries about paying for your care, please contact the finance team in your hospital.