Elbow Pain Differential Diagnoses

From WikiMSK

Differential Diagnoses

Lateral Elbow Pain

  • Lateral Elbow Tendinopathy
  • Referred pain (Cervical spine, Upper thoracic spine, Myofascial)
  • Synovitis of the radiohumeral joint
  • Radiohumeral bursitis
  • Radial Head Fractures
  • Radial Head Dislocation
  • Capitellar Osteochondritis Dissecans (Capitellum, Radius in adolescents)
  • Capitellar Osteochondrosis
  • Lateral Condyle Fracture
  • Capitellum Fracture
  • Lateral Collateral Ligament Complex Injury
  • Radial Head Subluxation (Nursemaid Elbow)
  • Radiocapitellar Osteoarthrosis
  • Bone Neoplasm
  • Soft Tissue Neoplasm
  • Posterolateral Rotary Instability
  • Posterior Interosseous Nerve Entrapment or Radial Neuropathy at the Spiral Groove
  • Posterolateral Plica Syndrome

Medial Elbow Pain

  • Medial Elbow Tendinopathy
  • Medial collateral ligament injury (acute and chronic)
  • Ulnar neuritis
  • Avulsion fracture of the medial epicondyle (children and adolescents)
  • Apophysitis (children and adolescents)
  • Referred pain (Cervical Radicular Pain, somatic referred myofascial pain)
  • Myofascial pain
  • Ulnar Neuropathy
  • Little Leaguer's Elbow
  • Triceps Tendinopathy and rupture
  • Fractures (Olecranon Fracture, Pediatric Medial Epicondyle Avulsion, Coronoid Process Fracture, Medial Condyle Fracture)
  • Medial epitrochlear lymphadenopathy (e.g. from cat-scratch disease)
  • Anconeus Epitrochlearis
  • Cyst, Mass, Foreign Body

Posterior Elbow Pain

Anterior Elbow Pain


  • Osteoarthritis
  • If locking consider chondromalacia, osteochondritis, loose bodies

Differentiating Factors

Coombes et al summarised the important differentiating features of lateral elbow tendinopathy, shown below [1]

Differential lateral elbow tendinopathy.PNG


  1. โ†‘ Coombes et al.. Management of Lateral Elbow Tendinopathy: One Size Does Not Fit All. The Journal of orthopaedic and sports physical therapy 2015. 45:938-49. PMID: 26381484. DOI.