Got Sharp Elbow Pain – 12 Unusual Side Effects and Causes

sharp elbow pain

Sharp pain in the elbow can be caused by an overuse injury, severe injury, or nerve compression in the elbow or neck.

Common causes of sharp external elbow pain include tennis or golfer’s elbow, and elbow displacement, or elbow sprain.

Before going into panic mode, you should really take a deep breath and think about the following:

Are there specific movements or actions which result in the increase of pain in your elbow?

Let`s look at the most common symptoms


Elbow pain can have different symptoms depending on the cause.
Sharp elbow pain, which can be described as the sensation of electric or pins and needles can be annoying.

In many cases, severe elbow pain can interfere with daily activities such as sports and household chores.

Suffering from any tenderness in your elbow – is it inside, middle or outside?

Does the pain sometimes shoot down from your elbow and into your wrist?

When you extend your wrist upwards, does the pain in your affected elbow increase or get worse?

This can be caused by a number of structural problems.

These include the upper nerves or walking through the elbow, the muscles in the tendon and the bones in the elbow, and the bones themselves.

The following are the common symptoms that can occur with sharp elbow pain:
• Finger or arm weakness
• Finger or arm itching
• Neck or shoulder pain
• Hand immobility
• Reduced ability to use the elbow
• Severe pain when moving the wrist or forearm
• Severe pain when moving the neck
• Elbow swelling
• Bulging in the upper arm

Top 3 Causes sharp elbow pain

Sharp elbow pain may not cause immediate concern.

The following details can help you better understand your symptoms.

If your pain worsens or persists, however, see a doctor.

Acute injury
Severe injury to the elbow can cause sharp pain in the elbow, such as the following.

Biceps tendon tears: A tear of the tendon that connects to the elbow causes sudden sharp pain in the elbow as well as weakness and bulge in the upper arm.

Tearing the biceps tendon is usually caused by trying to lift a heavy object.

Fracture: Fracture of one of the bones that make up the elbow can cause swelling and weakness, as well as sharp pain.

This can be caused by falling directly on the elbow or pulling the arm straight out.

Overuse injury
Repeated movements on the elbow and wrist can lead to injury due to excessive use of the tendon attached to the elbow, resulting in symptoms of sharp pain in the elbow.

Depending on the specific affected tendon the pain can be on the inside or outside of the elbow and can be worse by the movement of the wrist or arm.

Nerve injury
Nerve compression on the elbow: Several nerves run through the elbow and can be coarcted by repeated elbow movements or physical abnormalities that result in sharp or “pin and needle” elbow pain.

Depending on the specific nerve affected, you may feel pain in the ring and little fingers or arm.

Nerve compression in the neck: Physical abnormalities in the neck such as arthritis can cause the nerves to contract as they protrude from the spinal cord.

Depending on the specific affected nerve, sharp elbow pain can result.

Generally, you will also experience neck and shoulder pain.

This list does not constitute medical advice and cannot accurately represent what you have

12 Reasons for Sharp Elbow Pain:

Chances are that the pain you are experiencing started out innocently enough and you really didn`t give it much attention.

Am I right?

And your pain has gotten so bad that it interferes with your job or simple tasks around the house.

Can you relate?

When it prevents you from doing things you enjoy doing on a daily basis, then it really is time to address the issue and prevent it from getting worse.

But no need to worry because …

I’ll not only tell you what the source of injury is but I will give you the solution to each one of them.

How fantastic is that!

Sharp pain in the elbow can be caused by an overuse injury, severe injury, or nerve compression in the elbow or neck.

Common causes can include tennis or golfer’s elbow, and elbow displacement, or elbow sprain.


We’ve got a lot to cover so let’s get down to it!

Bicep Tendon Rupture

bicep tendon rupture


The first possible reason why you have sharp elbow pain is that you could be suffering a rupture to your bicep tendon.

Your bicep muscle inserts into the radial tuberosity below the elbow and is attached to your arm bone via the bicep tendon.

The function of your bicep muscle is that it aids in the supination and flexion of your forearm.

When you suffer a rupture of your bicep tendon, the sharp pain you feel is pretty much immediate!

Your bicep muscle retracts and you will immediately experience pain, swelling and bruising at the front of your elbow.

If you are involved in your manual labour jobs or workout at the gym 5 days a week or more, then you are at a high risk of developing this injury.

The only solution for this injury is for surgery to be performed where the surgeon will reattach your bicep tendon to the radial tuberosity.

Also check out this forum on sharp stabbing pain in your elbow.

Some great insight and suggestions there.

Elbow Arthritis

elbow arthritis pain

This condition occurs when you start to lose cartilage around your elbow joint and the joint itself starts to degenerate.

The pain you’re experiencing in your elbow is usually caused by performing repetitive actions with your dominant arm.

If you have elbow arthritis you have pain, stiffness and a decreased range of motion.

This injury is sometimes referred to as osteoarthritis, degenerative arthritis, or posttraumatic arthritis.

As far as treatment goes, there is not really much on offer.

The thing you must understand about this condition is that it will get worse with age.

We cannot stop the aging process, that is a given.

But by choosing activities that are friendly on your joints can provide just enough pain relief to get you through your day.

As advances in medicine improve, especially with Cell and Gene Therapy, arthritis could very much be a great candidate and target condition where theses advances can help improve your quality of life.

Your pain and symptoms can be controlled with anti-inflammatory medications and in rare cases surgery can be performed.

Corticosteroid injections are sometimes recommended but most sufferers only get 4-5 weeks of pain relief so in my opinion it is not really a solution.

Medial Epicondylitis

medial epicondylitis

This injury is often referred to as golfers elbow.

This when you experience severe pain, soreness and sometimes swelling on the inside of your elbow.

Your forearm flexor muscles attaches at the medial epicondyle of your elbow via the medial epicondyle.

Your forearm flexor muscles are responsible for the flexion of your wrist.

This injury happens when you have an injury to your forearm flexor muscles which results in degeneration of the these muscles.

One develops this condition from performing repetitive and overloaded activities that involve repeated bending/flexing of the wrist.

Your best bet for treatment is to start strengthening exercises that target your forearm flexor muscles.

Take frequent breaks from movements and activities that cause your elbow pain to flare up.

You really need to listen to your body and when something hurts, stop completely or at least take a 10 minute coffee break.

The application of ice on the inside of your elbow twice a day can help fight inflammation and can also provide temporary pain relief.

Did you know:  That applying heat to soft tissue injuries is actually better than applying ice?

The reason for this is because heat promotes the opening of blood vessels and improves circulation.

With any kind of strain or tear, you need as much new blood into your damaged tissues as possible.

This promotes healing and cuts down on recovery time.

You should also take note that golfers elbow does not just affect individuals who play the sport of golf.

It can happen to anyone from your Grandmother, to a cook, plumber, athlete manual laborer or Dentist.

If you work with your hands, especially those who have to hold tools or instruments in their hands to accomplish a task or job, then you are considered high risk for this condition.

So just because you do not play the sport, do not think you are safe from developing this condition because …

You are most certainly not.

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

cubital tunnel syndrome

This condition occurs when you have compression of your ulnar nerve on the medial(inside) of your elbow.

Your symptoms include swelling, pain and hand weakness.

The root cause of this condition is when you have compression of your ulnar nerve, as it passed around your elbow through the cubital tunnel.

When it comes to treatment for cubital tunnel syndrome, you should first any and all activities that aggravate the pain in your elbow.

If you are playing any sports or intend on using your arm a lot for repetitive activities, you may want to invest in an elbow pad to protect your elbow from being hit or struck.

As a last resort, surgery can be an option.

Medial Collateral Ligament Injury

medial collateral ligament

This injury occurs mostly to individuals who are involved in and participate in throwing sports or activities – ie: baseball, cricket, football, and volleyball.

This condition can lead to chronic pain and in some cases a deformity at the elbow can occur.

Besides the obvious of stop throwing activities immediately when diagnosed, treatment options for ulnar collateral ligament injuries can include: physical therapy, evaluation with MRI’s, and in severe cases – reconstructive surgery but recovery times are quite long and difficult.

Posterior Impingement Syndrome

posterior impingement syndrome

Your tricep muscle attaches at the olecranon of your elbow.

This condition occurs when you have an extension overload of your tricep muscles, which can result in an injury to the back of your elbow.

If you notice that when you extend your elbow fully, you have a sharp pain on the back of your elbow then you could have posterior impingement syndrome.

Also check out my post on Why Your Elbow Hurts When Extended: Try These Simple Steps for Relief.

An elbow that “locks out”, clicks or feels like it catches on another bone is another tell tale sign of posterior impingement syndrome.

Olecranon Bursitis

olecranon bursitis pain

Occurs when you have inflammation of the small sac of fluid located on the tip of your elbow.

This bursa sac becomes irritated and inflamed as you repeatedly bend your elbow.

Placing your elbows on a hard surface for extended periods of time can cause your bursa sac to become inflamed.

Your elbow is usually noticeably red in colour and may feel hot and tender to the touch.

This condition is often referred to as water on the elbow.

For the simple reason that it feels like you have fluid in your elbow.

So if someone says, do you have fluid on your elbow, they are simply asking do you have Olecranon Bursitis?

Your Pharmacist can help you out with a topical anti-inflammatory cream.

Surgery is rarely ever needed or required.

This condition usually clears up on it`s own without any sort of treatment or medical intervention.

Radial Tunnel Syndrome

radial tunnel syndrome

The pain one experiences with this injury is very common to the one I will explain next.

It’s not uncommon for individuals to mix up the two.

As the pain, symptoms and location are very similar to lateral epicondylitis(tennis elbow).

The difference being is that if you have Radial Tunnel Syndrome, the pain will travel down your forearm from your elbow.

Lateral epicondylitis

lateral epicondylitis

Last but not the least reason why you have sharp elbow pain is that you could possibly be suffering from lateral epicondylitis.

This is more commonly referred to as tennis elbow.

It is when you are suffering from lateral pain on the outer part of your forearm near your elbow.

The cause is weakened, strained and fatigued forearm extensor muscles.

These extensor muscles are responsible for the extension of your wrist.

If you are involved in manual labour jobs or sports that require twisting and extension of the wrist against some form of resistance.

Elbow Gout

elbow gout

It’s actually a type of arthritis. Uric acid, which is usually sent out of your body, forms crystals in your tissues.

If the buildup is in your elbow, it can be very painful. 

Gout of the elbow can present itself as inflammation and the area red in color.

Lupus of the Elbow

elbow lupus

This is another disease where your immune system attacks healthy parts of your body, including your joints and organs.

It usually affects your hands and feet, but it can also cause problems in your elbow.

Lyme Disease

lyme disease elbow


Tick-borne, Lyme disease can cause serious problems if not treated early.

You may have problems with your nervous system and joint pain, such as an elbow.

Ok now that you know more about the possible injuries you could have to your elbow

Ok now that you know more about the possible injuries you could have to your elbow …

It’s time for some good news!

If you are suffering from tennis elbow, the most common of all elbow injuries…

There is a quick and easy fix for it that involves 5 simple steps.

What’s even better…

Is that you can do them right now from the chair you are sitting on.

Seriously!  Click on the button below that explains this 5 step, proven home treatment formula.

watch this video

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