Burning in the elbow

What is burning in the elbow?

A burning sensation in the elbow is a disease that affects the structures of the elbow and usually leads to inflammation.
The inflammatory processes are similar to allergies and are accompanied by warming and burning in the affected area. The cause of the inflammation can be a disease that affects the bones, tendons, muscles, nerves or even the bursa in the elbow.

Causes of the disease

A common cause that can trigger the burning sensation in the elbow is the so-called tennis elbow. It arises from the fact that the outer muscles of the forearm are particularly stressed when playing tennis. These muscles pull over a tendon to the elbow and attach to the bone here. By straining the muscles, a violent pull is exerted on the tendons. If overworked, they ignite, which in turn leads to a burning sensation in the elbow.
Inflammation of the tendons in the elbow can also develop during other types of overload or during sports with similar movements. Based on the localization of the complaints, one can infer the overstrained muscle group.

Another cause of the burning sensation in the elbow can be bursitis. For example, in the event of a gout attack, individual crystals of uric acid, which occur more frequently in the joint in gout, can detach and irritate the bursa. This causes bursitis, where even the smallest movements or pressure on the elbow can trigger severe pain and burning.

Furthermore, the cause of the burning sensation can be damage to the ulnar nerve. This nerve runs from the back of the upper arm, along the inside of the elbow, and from there towards the hand. Even a slight irritation of the nerve leads to a tingling sensation that can radiate into the little fingers. If the nerve is more severely damaged or even severed, this is often felt as pain or burning in the corresponding area. Since the elbow nerve is just under the skin and close to the bone, damage to the elbow is common.

In addition, inflammation in the elbow can occur with pre-existing diseases such as osteoarthritis or rheumatism.

Find out more about the topic here: Tendinitis in the elbow.

Concomitant symptoms

Depending on the cause of the burning sensation in the elbow, accompanying symptoms can vary.

When certain muscles of the forearm are overloaded, the pain on the respective side of the arm can radiate into the hand. If the patient suffers from a disease such as rheumatism or gout, accompanying fever can occur.

All diseases that cause inflammation are accompanied by symptoms such as reddening, warming and swelling of the affected area.


The burning sensation in the elbow is often associated with pain. The pain is caused by a causal disease. For this reason, one should look for the trigger of this disease at the point where the pain first occurs.

If the disease causes inflammation or damage to the nerve, the burning sensation occurs in the elbow. The pain can also spread to other parts of the arm. Among other things, the muscles that were involved in the overexertion are affected.

Read more on the subject here Nerve inflammation.

Pain in the form of a stinging sting

An uncomfortable feeling in the elbow in the form of a pulling or stinging action is usually felt when the tendons that pull along the elbow are damaged.

This damage is usually based on excessive strain on the forearm muscles, which exert a pull on the tendons. The tendons can easily become inflamed or even tear.
Even with slight movements, in which the tendon is pulled, a pulling or stinging can be felt.

Pain on the inside of the elbow

The location of the burning sensation in the elbow can provide information about the cause. The elbow nerve runs along the inside of the elbow. It is responsible for movements in the forearm and hand and forwards the information about touching these areas back to the brain. Damage to or severance of the nerve can cause pain and a burning sensation on the inside.

Overloading movements of the forearm muscles, which are located in the ulna, can irritate the inner tendons in the elbow. These movements can be long typing or writing, for example.

Bursitis is also more likely to manifest itself on the inside of the elbow.

Also read our topic: Inner elbow pain

Pain on the outside of the elbow

A burning sensation on the outside of the elbow can occur due to unusual or very intense strain on the forearm muscles in the ulna area.
For example, when playing tennis or golf or when the hand is bent backwards sharply, this muscle group is stressed. This creates a pull on the tendons that pull towards the outside of the elbow.

Overloading this area can cause damage or inflammation, which manifests itself as a burning sensation in the elbow.

Read more on the subject here Golfer's elbow.


The diagnosis is first made by the doctor through specific inquiries about the symptoms, the previous illnesses of the patient and the activity carried out by him.
In addition, the elbow is examined closely, paying particular attention to changes such as redness, swelling and deformities. Palpation of the joint and testing of mobility provides a further overview of the type and severity of the disease.

In rare, unclear cases or in the case of long-lasting, severe complaints, an X-ray image can be made to inspect the damage more precisely.

Therapy options

Treatment for burning in the elbow depends on the cause of the condition.

With every cause of inflammation, it is important to immobilize and elevate the affected arm. In addition, the arm should be carefully cooled. This will stop the inflammatory process and reduce the redness, swelling and pain.
This therapy is usually sufficient for slight inflammation of the elbow, for example due to excessive strain. In addition, if the symptoms persist, medication can be used to relieve the pain and help against the inflammation. Ibuprofen or diclofenac are particularly recommended here.

Pre-existing conditions such as gout, osteoarthritis or rheumatism should also be treated with appropriate therapy.
If the symptoms continue to increase, this can also be due to the fact that the affected area has become infected with bacteria. In this case, the pathogens must be fought and killed with an antibiotic.

A slight irritation of the ulnar nerve usually improves quickly. In rare cases, if the damage is more severe, suturing is performed on the nerve.

Read more about the Tennis elbow therapy.

Duration of illness

The duration of the burning sensation in the elbow can vary greatly depending on the underlying cause.

If a short-term slight overload leads to inflammation, this can heal after a few days by rest and cooling. If the area has become infected or if the elbow continues to be overloaded, the symptoms last significantly longer.