What Causes Medial Elbow Pain in the Throwing Athlete?

What Causes Medial Elbow Pain in the Throwing Athlete?
What Causes Medial Elbow Pain in the Throwing Athlete?

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Basketball, baseball and softball are just a few of the sports that come to mind when discussing arm injuries. Consistently using the same muscle over and over can cause gradual wear and tear on the body if it’s not maintained correctly. Unfortunately – and common among athletes of all ages – medial elbow pain is an elbow injury that affects your range of motion and ease of use. At NJOI, we believe that understanding the mechanics and effects of muscle afflictions can aid in the understanding of how e

lbow injuries form. The information provided below delivers an anatomical insight as to how these irritating injuries come to be.

Elbow Anatomy

The elbow is a hinge joint made up of three bones: your upper arm bone (humerus) and the two bones in your forearm (radius and ulna). Muscles, ligaments and tendons connect to the condyle of bone, which is the prominent rounded edge that holds the elbow joint together and allows movement. Medial and lateral collateral ligaments provide the main source of stability by holding the humerus and ulna tightly together. A third ligament, the annular ligament, holds the radial head tight against the ulna to promote overall usage and flexibility. The cartilage found on both ends of the bones absorbs everyday shock and further allows the joints to easily glide against one another.

Causes of Medial Elbow Pain


Going through the actions of a normal day you may not realize how often you use your arms, particularly your elbows, to accomplish tasks. While your body is designed to handle daily use of muscles, athletes put themselves at a higher risk of injury due to overuse. Sports that involve overhead throwing and swinging are at an even more increased risk of medial elbow pain. This list includes, but is not limited to: baseball, softball, basketball, golfing, bowling, archery and even weightlifting. One important thing to note is that medial elbow pain can occur from just about any strenuous activity. Hobbyists who garden or frequently chop wood are also known to experience pain from time to time as well.


Some cases of symptoms resulting from medial elbow pain can be encouraged through inflammation. The human body reacts to stress and injury with special inflammatory cells that aid in the healing process. While these symptoms may be similar to medial elbow pain, the main cause of golfer’s elbow, for example, is tendonosis. Tendonosis is a chronic condition involving a deterioration of collagen in the tendons. When this condition occurs and the joint’s structural proteins break down, the body produces a type of cell called fibroblasts instead of inflammatory cells. When this happens, the collagen loses strength. It becomes fragile, breaks or has a heightened risk of being easily injured. Each time the collagen experiences deterioration, your body responds by the forming of scar tissue in the affected area. Eventually, the tendon will thicken from the extra scar tissue leaving the injured areas weakened and increasingly painful.

Medial Elbow Relief in New Jersey

If you or someone you know is suffering from medial elbow pain, request an appointment with one of our board-certified orthopaedic surgeons. Due to a poor blood supply, injuries to the tendon can cause more serious conditions if left unaddressed. Depending on severity, medial elbow pain may require surgery and possibly further physical therapy intervention. To learn more about your options for arthroscopic surgery and UCL elbow injuries surgeries, please contact the New Jersey Orthopaedic Institute at . Don’t let elbow pain keep you on the bench and give us a call today!

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