Elbow pain and swelling can significantly impact daily activities, from simple movements to more complex tasks. Various conditions may contribute to these symptoms, including bursitis, bone spurs and arthritis. Seeking treatment from an orthopedic specialist like Steven Struhl, MD, Shoulders & Knees, is crucial for accurate diagnosis and effective relief. Let us delve into the possible causes and remedies for swollen or painful elbows.

Elbow Bursitis

Bursitis involves inflammation of the bursa, fluid-filled sacs that cushion and reduce friction between bones, tendons, and muscles. When the bursa in the elbow becomes inflamed, it can lead to pain, swelling and limited joint movement. Overuse, repetitive motions, underlying conditions or injury can contribute to the development of elbow bursitis.

Resting the affected arm, applying ice to reduce swelling and taking anti-inflammatory medications are initial home remedies for elbow bursitis. Seeking guidance from an orthopedic specialist is essential for a comprehensive treatment plan, which may include physical therapy and, in severe cases, corticosteroid injections.

Bone Spurs

Bone spurs, or osteophytes, are bony projections that develop on the edges of bones. In the elbow, bone spurs can form due to aging, joint degeneration or conditions like osteoarthritis. These spurs may irritate surrounding tissues, causing pain and swelling, and may be an underlying cause of bursitis.

Conservative treatments for bone spurs include rest, ice and pain medications. Dr. Shruhl’s orthopedic team can conduct imaging tests to assess the severity of the bone spurs and recommend appropriate interventions. Surgical options, such as arthroscopy or joint debridement, may be considered in advanced cases.


Arthritis is a broad term encompassing various inflammatory joint conditions. In the elbow, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are common culprits. Osteoarthritis results from the wear and tear of joint cartilage, while rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder leading to joint inflammation.

Managing arthritis-related elbow pain often involves a combination of medications, physical therapy and lifestyle modifications. Dr. Steven Struhl can provide personalized treatment plans, which may include disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), corticosteroids, or, in severe cases, joint surgery.

Tennis or Golfer’s Elbow

Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) and golfer’s elbow (medial epicondylitis) are conditions characterized by inflammation of the tendons attached to the elbow. Repetitive arm movements, such as those involved in tennis or golf, can contribute to the development of these conditions.

Rest, ice and the use of a brace or splint are initial measures to alleviate symptoms. An orthopedic specialist like Dr. Struhl can provide targeted therapies, including physical therapy exercises, to strengthen the affected tendons. In some cases, corticosteroid injections may be recommended for pain relief.

When faced with persistent elbow pain and swelling, consulting an orthopedic specialist like Dr. Steven Struhl is crucial for an accurate diagnosis and tailored treatment plan. Dr. Struhl has the expertise to distinguish between various elbow conditions, ensuring appropriate interventions for optimal relief.

Swollen or painful elbows can stem from various conditions, each requiring a specific approach for effective relief. Seeking prompt evaluation and treatment from an orthopedic specialist like Steven Struhl, MD at Shoulders & Knees is crucial to accurately diagnose the underlying cause and develop a tailored plan to alleviate symptoms and restore optimal function to the affected elbow. Contact Dr. Struhl at one of his New York offices to schedule an elbow exam and consultation.