What causes elbow lump?

Elbow lump is often caused by traumatic injury, such as a sharp blow to the elbow. In these cases, the elbow lump may be related to swelling of the elbow. In other cases, a benign growth or tumor might be responsible for the lump. If you have recently injured your elbow, the lump may be due to healing of a fractured bone in the elbow.

Common causes of elbow lump

Elbow lump may be caused by a variety of common conditions and events including:

  • Arthritis
  • Bursitis (inflammation of a bursa sac that cushions a joint)
  • Elbow or arm injury (fracture, dislocation)
  • Fragments within the joint space (bone, cartilage)
  • Gout (type of arthritis caused by a buildup of uric acid in the joints)
  • Healing process of a broken bone
  • Overuse injury
  • Tendinitis (inflammation of a tendon)

Rare causes of elbow lump

Elbow lump can also be caused by some uncommon conditions including:

  • Abscess
  • Benign tumor
  • Cellulitis (infection of the skin and tissues beneath the skin)
  • Cyst (benign sac that contains fluid, air, or other materials)
  • Retained foreign body

Serious or life-threatening causes of elbow lump

In some cases, elbow lump may be a symptom of a serious or life-threatening condition that should be evaluated immediately in an emergency setting. These include:

  • Bone fractures
  • Malignant tumor

Questions for diagnosing the cause of elbow lump

To diagnose your condition, your doctor or licensed health care practitioner will ask you several questions related to your elbow lump including:

  • How long have you had an elbow lump?
  • Do you have any other symptoms?
  • Do you have any pain with your elbow lump?
  • Do you have arthritis?
  • Do you use your elbow frequently or use your elbow for strenuous activities?
  • Have you had any recent injuries?
  • What makes your elbow lump feel better or worse?

What are the potential complications of elbow lump?

Elbow lump is often a mild condition that will not cause any serious complications. If the elbow lump is related to minor swelling, home remedies, such as cold compresses and over the counter pain and anti-inflammatory medications, may help to alleviate pain or inflammation associated with elbow lump.

Because elbow lump can be due to serious diseases, however, failure to seek treatment can result in serious complications and permanent damage. Once the underlying cause is diagnosed, it is important for you to follow the treatment plan that you and your health care professional design specifically for you to reduce the risk of potential complications including:

  • Inability to perform daily tasks
  • Joint deformity and destruction
  • Paralysis
  • Permanent joint instability
  • Permanent loss of sensation
  • Spread of cancer
  • Spread of infection


  1. Elbow injuries and disorders. Medline Plus, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/elbowinjuriesanddisorders.html.
  2. Broken bone. Medline Plus, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000001.htm.
  3. Kahan S, Miller R, Smith EG (Eds.). In A Page Signs & Symptoms, 2d ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott, Williams & Williams, 2009.

What is elbow lump?

An elbow lump is an abnormal protrusion or bump within the elbow joint or on the surface of the elbow. Elbow lumps can happen to anyone. Often, elbow lumps are the result of an injury, such as a blow to the elbow.... Read more about elbow lumpintroduction


What other symptoms might occur with elbow lump?

Elbow lump may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition.

Muscular and skeletal symptoms that may occur along with elbow lump

Elbow lump may accompany other symptoms affecting the muscles, bones and joints including:

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Aug 9, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Bones, Joints and Muscles

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