I've had pain in my elbow for years. Since getting treatment for it, I've heard my doctor and occupational therapist talk about the "carrying angle" of the elbow. What is so important about this angle, and are there differences in the elbow angles of males and females?

Imagine carrying a bucket with your arm at your side and your palm facing forward. In this position there is a slight outward bend at the elbow, the "carrying angle." Normally there is about a five to fifteen degree outward bend, five degrees for males and ten to fifteen degrees for females.

When examining the elbow, health providers check to see if there is too much or too little bend in the carrying angle. They also note if the angles are the same on each side. If problems with the elbow cause it to angle too far in one direction, these can put extra strain on the elbow and may play a role in elbow pain.