Elbow plica, also known as synovial plica or plicae syndrome, refers to the presence of a fold of synovial tissue within the elbow joint. This fold of tissue is a normal component of the synovial lining of the joint, but it can become inflamed, thickened, or irritated, leading to symptoms and discomfort. The signs and symptoms, diagnosis, and differential diagnoses associated with elbow plica are as follows:

  1. Pain or discomfort on the inside or outside of the elbow joint, particularly with movement or pressure.
  2. Swelling or a sensation of “fullness” in the elbow joint.
  3. Clicking, snapping, or popping sensations with certain elbow movements.
  4. Limited range of motion, especially during activities that involve bending or straightening the elbow.
  5. Tenderness to touch over the area of the inflamed plica.


  1. Physical Examination: A thorough physical examination by a healthcare professional, including an orthopedic surgeon or sports medicine specialist, can help identify the location of pain, evaluate range of motion, and assess for signs of inflammation or tenderness over the elbow joint.
  2. Imaging Studies: X-rays and MRI scans may be used to assess the elbow joint for any structural abnormalities or soft tissue changes, including the presence of an inflamed or thickened plica.

Differential Diagnoses:

  1. Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis): Pain and tenderness on the outside of the elbow due to overuse of the forearm muscles.
  2. Golfer’s Elbow (Medial Epicondylitis): Pain and tenderness on the inside of the elbow due to overuse of the forearm muscles.
  3. Ulnar Nerve Entrapment (Cubital Tunnel Syndrome): Numbness, tingling, or weakness in the hand and fingers due to compression of the ulnar nerve at the elbow.
  4. Osteoarthritis of the Elbow: Degenerative changes in the elbow joint leading to pain, stiffness, and limited range of motion.

Treatment for elbow plica may include rest, anti-inflammatory medication, physical therapy, and in some cases, corticosteroid injections to reduce inflammation. In cases where conservative treatments are ineffective, surgical intervention to address the inflamed plica may be considered. It’s important for individuals experiencing symptoms related to the elbow joint to seek evaluation from a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate management.

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