My elbow hurts, is it arthritis?
Any joint can develop osteoarthritis. However, some joints are more prone to it than others. More common joints to develop osteoarthritis include the hips, knees, hands, and spinal joints. The elbow is less commonly affected by osteoarthritis. Of course, elbow pain can still be caused by osteoarthritis--it is just a little lower on the list of possible causes. Other potential causes of elbow pain include:
Ø Lateral epicondylitis (Tennis elbow)
Ø Medial epicondylitis (Golfer's elbow)
Ø Ligament strain or sprain
Ø Triceps tendonitis
Ø Muscle strain
Ø Osteochondritis dissecans
Ø And this is just part of the list of potential causes...
As opposed to other joints, osteoarthritis in the elbow usually occurs years after an elbow injury. This is similar to the ankle or shoulder where osteoarthritis usually sets in as a reaction to an older injury. Essentially, a first injury (such as a fracture or ligament tear) leads to degeneration of the cartilage within the joint and then this accelerates the process of cartilage degeneration. This is not to say that all elbow injuries lead to elbow osteoarthritis developing years later. But an elbow injury certainly can predispose to subsequent development of osteoarthritis. As with other joint pains, your best bet is to get it checked out by a doctor. Your doctor will help you arrive at an accurate diagnosis. An accurate diagnosis is the first step to a comprehensive treatment plan in order to return you to your full, active, pain-free life.