The joint commonly known as the elbow is actually made up of three joints, which are enclosed by a single joint capsule. Its name is derived from the bony extension of the ulna bone (in German Elle) directly at the joint, which sticks out slightly when the arm is bent.

The complex elbow joint connects the forearm and the upper arm. It can bend and straighten the limb, as well as rotate. The joint is guided by several strong ligaments, whereas the actual movement is generated primarily by the muscles in the upper arm (in part also by the forearm muscles). The areas most subject to wear and tear are equipped with a bursa, which minimises the pressure and friction between the bones, muscles, tendons and skin.

Hirslanden Orthopädie, Anatomie der Hand.


1. Ulna
2. Radius
3. Humerus

Tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow

Tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow both refer to an inflammation of the elbow. These conditions affect the area where the muscles responsible for extending and bending the forearm and the hand attach to the bone. The inflammation is assumed to be the result of strain caused by repeated movements, such as hitting a tennis ball. The main symptom of tennis elbow is pain on the outside of the elbow, which becomes more intense if the person makes a fist or bends their wrist upwards towards the back of their hand.

Similar symptoms are displayed by golfer’s elbow, which is less common, although generally it is the inside of the elbow that hurts.

As soon as the pain starts, it helps to cool the area. After that, the injury needs time to heal. The arm should first be rested and supported (using an elbow sleeve or brace) and later treated with physiotherapy involving stretching, strength-building and relaxation exercises. If these measures do not resolve the problem, surgical intervention to reduce the pressure on the tendons should be considered.

More information on the disease pattern tennis elbow and golfer's elbow.

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