The biceps muscle is in the front of your upper arm. It helps you bend your elbow and rotate your forearm. It also helps keep your shoulder stable.
Tendons attach muscles to bone. Your biceps tendons attach the biceps muscle to bones in the shoulder and in the elbow. If you tear the biceps tendon at the elbow, you will lose strength in your arm and be unable to forcefully turn your arm from palm down to palm up.

Once torn, the biceps tendon at the elbow will not grow back to the bone and heal. Other arm muscles make it possible to bend the elbow fairly well without the biceps. However, they cannot fulfill all the functions, especially the motion of rotating the forearm from palm down to palm up. This is called supination. Significant permanent weakness during supination will occur if the tendon is not surgically repaired.


Bursitis is the swelling and irritation of a bursa. A bursa is a fluid-filled sac that acts as a cushion between muscles, tendons, and joints. The Olecranon bursa is located at the elbow. You may experience symptoms such as elbow joint pain and tenderness when you press around the joint, stiffness and aching on movement of the elbow, swelling, warmth, and/or redness over the joint. The goal of treatment is to relieve pain and reduce inflammation.


Cubital tunnel syndrome is a condition brought on by increased pressure on the ulnar nerve at the elbow. There is a bump of bone on the inner portion of the elbow under which the ulnar nerve passes. This site is commonly called the “funny bone”. The ulnar nerve lies directly next to the bone and is susceptible to pressure. When the pressure on the nerve becomes great enough to disturb the way the nerve works, then numbness, tingling, and pain may be felt in the elbow, forearm, hand, and/or fingers. Treatment goals are to relieve the pressure in this area. This can sometimes be done without surgery by avoiding certain elbow positioning, but may benefit from surgery by shifting the nerve to a location with less pressure.


Three bones come together at the elbow to form the elbow joint. The humerus is the bone in the upper arm, forming the upper elbow. The other two bones make up the forearm (the radius and the ulna), or the lower part of the elbow. Ligaments connected to the bones keep all of these bones in proper alignment (Ligaments connect bone to bone). Elbow dislocation occurs with trauma to the elbow, which disrupts the ligament attachments, causing the elbow to dislocate. A complete elbow dislocation is extremely painful and very obvious. The arm will look deformed and may have an odd twist at the elbow. This is considered an emergency injury and the goal of immediate treatment is to return the elbow to its normal alignment. Long-term goal of treatment is to restore function to the arm.


The distal humerus is the end of the upper arm bone (the humerus) that forms the upper part of the elbow. Three bones come together at the elbow to form the elbow joint. A distal humerus fracture is a type of elbow fracture or break. Symptoms consist of swelling, bruising, pain or tenderness to the touch, stiffness, and/or the feeling of instability (“my elbow feels like it wants to pop out”).


The elbow joint is a “hinge” joint. It bends, straightens, extends, and offers a range of flexion up to 145 degrees. A stiff elbow refers to those individuals who experience pain or problems when extending their elbow greater than 30 degrees. The cause of a stiff elbow may include arthritis of the elbow, post-traumatic injury, biceps tendon tear, infection, congenital and degenerative conditions. The main symptoms of a stiff elbow are pain and loss of motion. The goals of treatment are to provide patients with a pain-free, functional and stable elbow. Physical therapy is usually the best course of treatment. Surgical treatment may also be offered depending on the severity of elbow stiffness.


When you bend your elbow, you can easily feel its “tip,” a bony prominence that extends from one of the lower arm bones (the ulna). That tip is called the olecranon (oh-lek’-rah-nun). It is positioned directly under the skin of the elbow, without much protection from muscles or other soft tissues. It can easily break if you experience a direct blow to the elbow or fall on a bent elbow. Symptoms of an olecranon fracture include sudden, intense pain, inability to straighten the elbow, swelling/bruising, tenderness, numbness in one or more fingers, and pain with movement of the joint. The goal of treatment is to realign and secure the fracture for proper healing. This may be done surgically or non-surgically depending on the fracture.


Natural instinct in attempting to break a fall is placing your hand out in front of you. The force of the fall, however, could travel up your lower forearm bones and dislocate the elbow. It could also break the smaller bone (radius) in the forearm. A break can occur near the elbow at the radial “head,” “neck,” or both. Symptoms include pain on the outside of the elbow, swelling in the elbow joint, difficulty in bending or straightening the elbow, and/or inability or difficulty in rotating the forearm (palm up to palm down or vice versa). According to the degree of displacement (movement from the normal position) the decision can be made to manage the fracture with or without surgery.


Heterotopic ossification (HO) is the process by which bone forms at an abnormal location, usually in soft tissue.


Lateral epicondylitis, or tennis elbow, is soreness or pain on the outside (lateral) side of the upper arm near the elbow. Symptoms include elbow pain that gradually worsens, pain that radiates down the arm and hand, and/or a weak grasp. The goal of treatment is to relieve pain and reduce inflammation.


Medial epicondylitis, or golfer’s elbow, is soreness or pain on the inside (medial) side of the upper arm near the elbow. This injury is not limited to golfers as it may occur in tennis players, throwers, construction workers and others that repeatedly use their wrists or clench their fingers. Symptoms include elbow pain that gradually worsens, pain that may radiate down the arm, and/or a weak grasp. The goal of treatment is to relieve pain and reduce inflammation.