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Having severe pain and swelling in both inner elbow area. How to get relief?

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I am right 53 years old with severe pain and swelling in both inner elbow area. My right is worse and is very stiff when I awake. Also stiffness and pain when held in a position when extended. Injections, pain and other medications do not help. Also burning pain in forearm, palm near wrist and 5th finger. I had two carpal tunnel releases bilaterally 2008 and 2010. Most doctors say its tendonitis and current doctor says it is cubital tunnel. Sometimes I cannot pick up a glass of water due to pain in my elbow area.
Posted Thu, 15 Nov 2012 in Bones, Muscles and Joints
Answered by Dr. Raju A.T 1 hour later

Thanks for your query.

The pain and swelling you have could probably be due to Olecranon bursitis (also known as "student's elbow").This results due to inflammation of the synovial Bursa present around the medial side of the elbow joint subsequently causing stiffness due to spasm of the muscles attached near to it.

Inflammation of this bursa can be seen in many conditions like minor injuries, infections, non specific generalized inflammatory diseases etc.

Identifying the underlying cause is essential to treat the condition. Local pain killer gels like DICOLFENAC can reduce the pain and swelling but the effect is temporary. Treating the underlying condition will put an end to the problem. If the condition is due to minor injuries or work related (such as repeated leaning on the point of the elbow on a hard surface), the bursitis can subside with mild painkillers for few days.

The burning sensation in the forearm could be secondary to compression of the ulnar nerve due to the swelling. This will subside soon after the swelling is gone. Do consult an Orthopedician and a Rheumatologist, combined effort of these two specialists will narrow down the possibilities and arrive at the specific diagnosis for which specific treatment can me formulated.

Hope I answered your query; please do ask doubts, if any.

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Follow-up: Having severe pain and swelling in both inner elbow area. How to get relief? 1 hour later
Thank you for responding. Burning when extending my forearm existed years before swelling in my elbows, therefore it is difficult to believe the burning pain will stop once the swelling goes away. I have also experienced pain under left clavical, stabbing pain near right clavical, pins sensation in upper arms front and back. Even though emg/ncv tests did not locate ulnar abnormality, a neurologist did inform me current pain area indicated ulnar nerve. I know you have not examined me, but it is confusing to receive different diagnosis, while experiencing decrease of functioning ability due to pain and stiffness.
Answered by Dr. Raju A.T 14 hours later

Thanks for writing back.

You are right in saying that examination does give a lot of insights and better understanding of the condition to comment specifically.

But based on your description it appears to be a musculoskeletal problem rather than a neurological one.

The pain, swelling and stiffness in the elbow joint does point to involvement of the joint itself.There could be an underlying neurological problem which would have been worsened due to the joint pathology.The joint pathology has to be treated first to rule out nerve involvement.

Do consult an Orthopedician and a Rheumatologist , you will get a better idea about the condition by their integrated approach.

Wish you good health.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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