causes of elbow and arm painPicture this: you’ve got a full day of activities planned with friends and family.  Just as you reach out to grab your phone and car keys, a sharp, persistent pain shoots through your arm and elbow—bringing your plans to a screeching halt.

Elbow and arm pain is frustrating, but you don’t need to let it control you. If you’re experiencing pain that is affecting your daily life, work, and leisure activities, Northwest Extremity Specialists can help. We offer state-of-the-art orthopedic treatment services to address the most common causes of elbow and arm pain. 

What Can Cause Elbow and Arm Pain?

Understanding the potential causes of arm and elbow pain is essential for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Muscle Strain and Overuse

One of the most common reasons for arm and elbow pain is muscle strain and overuse. Repetitive motions or excessive use of the arm and elbow, such as in sports, manual labor, or even prolonged computer use, can strain the muscles and tendons. This can result in conditions like tennis elbow and golfer's elbow, both of which are forms of tendonitis.

Traumatic Injuries

Traumatic injuries, such as fractures, dislocations, or sprains, can cause acute arm and elbow pain. These injuries can result from accidents, falls, or direct blows to the area.

Nerve Compression

Nerves in the neck, shoulder, and arm can become compressed or pinched due to various reasons like herniated discs, bone spurs, or poor posture. This compression can lead to radiating pain in the arm and elbow. This is often referred to as radiculopathy.


Arthritis can affect the elbow joint and surrounding tissues. Osteoarthritis is often referred to as "wear and tear" arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder where the body's immune system mistakenly attacks the synovium, a lining of the membranes that surround the joints.


Bursitis is the inflammation of the bursa sacs that cushion the joints. When it occurs in the elbow, it can result in pain, swelling, and limited range of motion.

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

Similar to carpal tunnel syndrome, cubital tunnel syndrome involves compression of the ulnar nerve at the elbow. This can lead to pain, tingling, and numbness in the arm and hand.

Systemic Conditions

Conditions like diabetes, lupus, or multiple sclerosis can sometimes manifest as arm and elbow pain due to their effects on the nervous system and connective tissues. For example, diabetes can lead to a condition called peripheral neuropathy. This nerve damage can result in symptoms such as tingling, burning, numbness, and shooting pain in the arms and hands.

How Our Portland Orthopedic Specialists Can Help With Arm and Elbow Pain

An orthopedic specialist is a medical doctor specializing in diagnosing, treating, and preventing musculoskeletal conditions. When it comes to elbow and arm pain, the orthopedic specialists at Northwest Extremity Specialists provide comprehensive care to help diagnose the underlying cause and develop a treatment plan tailored to your specific condition. Our goal is to relieve pain, restore function, and improve your quality of life.

Non-Surgical Treatments

Most of our patients with elbow and arm pain would prefer to avoid surgery, which is completely understandable. Typically, we recommend trying a conservative treatment approach to manage symptoms.

  • Pain relievers, anti-inflammatory drugs, or corticosteroid injections
  • Physical therapy to improve strength, flexibility, and range of motion in the affected arm and elbow
  • Custom braces or splints to support and immobilize the affected area, promoting healing and reducing pain

Surgical Interventions

Surgical intervention may be necessary when conservative treatments fail to provide the desired results. Our experienced orthopedic surgeons can perform a wide range of procedures depending on your specific needs.