What’s involved in the diagnosis of elbow pain?

Elbow pain is normally diagnosed by analyzing medical records and through physical examination. In certain cases, imaging, such as an X-ray is needed to eliminate certain possibilities.

Medical history:

Before starting to examine the affected part, the doctor will question about when the pain began, what is the sports activity you are engaging in, how frequently you engage in it, if you have recently fallen down or undergone any traumatic experience. Apart from the pain, he or she will also question you about numbness or tingly feeling, swelling or fever. These conditions suggest the involvement of nerves, inflammation, and infection respectively.

Physical examination:

The doctor examines the elbow, then the forearm, and upper arm to identify cases of bruising, swelling, redness or even deformity. He may press and move the bones, muscles, and tendons to analyze tenderness and the extent of movement. A brief neurological exam of the elbow and hands are also done to verify sensory disturbances and weaknesses in the muscles.

Imaging tests:

To support the diagnosis, a number of imaging tests are performed. For instance, X-ray is done to diagnose dislocation or fracture of elbow bones, MRI may be required for better examination of the tendons in the biceps if there is a doubt of tendon rupture.