• Lupus. Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease, meaning the body's immune system creates antibodies that attack healthy tissues, including the joints, skin, heart, lungs and kidneys. The joints farthest from the torso, such as those of the hands and feet, are most commonly affected by lupus. However, elbow joints can be affected. Lupus also can be associated with a skin rash on the elbows and knees.
  • Infectious arthritis.  Also called septic arthritis, infectious arthritis refers to arthritis that is caused by an infection within the joint. Infectious arthritis is often caused by bacteria that spread through the bloodstream to the joint. Sometimes it is caused by viruses or fungi. Infectious arthritis occurs less frequently in the elbows than in the larger joints. One exception is arthritis due to N gonorrhoeae (the cause of gonorrhea), which typically involves the hands, wrists and elbows. Untreated, infection can lead to joint destruction.

Learn more about septic arthritis from the National Library of Medicine.

  • Dermatomyositis. Dermatomyositis is an inflammatory disease characterized by inflammation and weakness of the muscles, purplish discoloration of the eyelids, swelling around the eyes, changes around the nail beds and a patchy skin rash over the knees and elbows.

Read more about dermatomyositis from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

  • Osteonecrosis. Also called avascular necrosis, aseptic necrosis or ischemic necrosis, osteonecrosis is a disease in which a temporary or permanent loss of blood supply to the bone causes the bone to die and eventually collapse. Often it occurs in a bone near the joint, which causes the collapse of the joint surface. The disease is most common in the top of the thigh bone, or femur. Other common sites include the upper arms, knees, shoulders and ankles. Osteonecrosis of the elbow is rare, but does occur.

Learn more about osteonecrosis from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS).

  • Lyme disease. Lyme disease is an infectious disease spread by the bite of deer ticks infected with the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi. The first symptoms are often a bulls-eye-shaped rash and flu-like symptoms. If not treated early, the disease symptoms may progress to involvement of the heart, nervous system and joints, including the elbow.

Learn more about Lyme disease.