Common Elbow Injuries & Conditions

THE ELBOW

The elbow is one of the largest joints in the body, connecting the bones of the forearm 
(radius and ulna) to the upper arm bone (humerus) through a network of ligaments and muscles. Offering structure and durability, the elbow also allows for a great deal of range of motion. However, because it is one of the most frequently exercised and most stressed joints, it is also prone to injury, such as hyperextension and fractures, as well as orthopedic conditions, such as osteoarthritis and bursitis. Common ailments of the elbow include, but are not limited to: 

 

  • Bursitis

  • Golfer's elbow

  • Tennis elbow

  • Osteoarthritis

  • Dislocation

  • Fracture

 

The most common causes of pain in the elbow are sudden or acute injuries, followed by overuse injuries which cause inflammation over time and can become extremely uncomfortable.

Common Elbow Injuries & Conditions

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome


Overview of Cubital Tunnel Syndrome This condition, also called "ulnar nerve entrapment," happens to the ulnar nerve in your elbow. This nerve travels along the inner side of your elbow and down to your hand. It's the nerve that makes the jolt you feel when you bump your "funny bone." With this condition, your ulnar nerve is compressed, stretched or irritated. Causes of Cubital Tunnel Syndrome This problem is linked to a tight space in your elbow called the "cubital tunnel." Your nerve passes through this tunnel. Inside there is very little soft tissue to protect the nerve, and your nerve can be pressed, pinched or stretched. Cubital tunnel syndrome can develop if you tend to lean on your elbow a lot. It can happen if you sleep with your elbows bent. It can develop because of a problem with the anatomy of your elbow. And in many cases, your nerve becomes irritated and we aren't sure why. Symptoms of Cubital Tunnel Syndrome Symptoms include numbness and tingling in your ring finger and little finger. When you bend your elbow for a long time, you may feel "pins and needles" in these fingers. Your hand may feel weak and clumsy. Treatment Treatment options include medications, a brace or splint, and therapy. If these aren't helpful, you may need surgery. Your healthca




Elbow Bursitis


Overview of Elbow Bursitis This is a swelling of a fluid-filled sac in the back of your elbow. This sac is called the "olecranon bursa." You have similar sacs near other large joints throughout your body. They act as cushions between your bones and your soft tissues. Normally they have a small amount of fluid inside them. But sometimes they can swell. That is called "bursitis." Causes of Elbow Bursitis Your olecranon bursa can swell if you injure your elbow by hitting it hard. It can swell if you put pressure on it, repeatedly, usually over months. That can happen if you have a job that requires you to crawl or to lean on your elbows a lot. The bursa can swell because of an infection in your elbow. And, swelling may be linked to conditions like arthritis or gout. Symptoms of Elbow Bursitis Symptoms may include swelling and pain. If you have an infected bursa, the skin of your elbow may feel red and warm. An infected bursa can cause serious illness. Treatment Treatment depends on your needs. The swelling may go down if you cushion your elbow with a pad and avoid leaning on your elbow. Medications may help, too. Your doctor may remove fluid from the bursa with a needle. If those options aren't helpful, or if you have an infected bursa, you may need surgery. Your healthcare provider can create a plan that's right for you.




Lateral Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow)


Overview - Tennis Elbow This condition, commonly called tennis elbow, is an inflammation of the tendons that connect the muscles of the forearm to the elbow. The pain is primarily felt at the lateral epicondyle, the bony bump on the outer side of the elbow. Inside the Elbow The elbow joint is a complex group of bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons. Lateral epicondylitis involves the extensor muscles, which control the extension of the wrist and fingers, and the extensor tendons, which anchor the muscles to the lateral epicondyle. Causes of Tennis Elbow Lateral epicondylitis is caused by specific repetitive motions of the wrist and arm. The stress placed on the forearm by a tennis backstroke is a common culprit. This stress causes tiny tears to develop in one or more extensor tendons. This results in inflammation and pain. Symptoms of Tennis Elbow This condition typically causes pain and tenderness that is centered on the lateral epicondyle. This pain may radiate along the forearm and wrist. The grip of the hand may feel weak. Risk Factors of Tennis Elbow Lateral epicondylitis typically affects people between the ages of 30 and 50. It is a common complaint of athletes who play racquet sports, but certain occupations can also raise a person's risk. This condition is common among plumbers, painters, carpenters and butchers. Treatment Treatment options may include rest, ice, anti-inflammatory medications and stretching exercises. A physician may recommend an arm brace or wrist splint and physical therapy or massage therapy. Steroid injections or PRP injections may also provide relief.




Medial Epicondylitis (Golfer's Elbow)


Overview - Golfer's Elbow This condition, commonly called golfer's elbow, is an inflammation of the tendons that connect the muscles of the forearm to the elbow. The pain is primarily felt at the medial epicondyle, the bony bump on the inner side of the elbow. Inside the Elbow The elbow joint is a complex group of bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons. Medial epicondylitis involves the flexor muscles, which control the flexion of the wrist and fingers, and the flexor tendons, which anchor the muscles to the medial epicondyle. Causes Medial epicondylitis is caused by specific repetitive motions of the wrist and arm. The stress placed on the forearm by swinging a golf club is a common culprit. This stress causes tiny tears to develop in one or more flexor tendons. This results in inflammation and pain. Symptoms This condition typically causes pain and tenderness that is centered on the medial epicondyle. This pain may radiate along the forearm and wrist. The elbow may feel stiff, and the hand and wrist may feel weak. A person may experience numbness or tingling in the ring finger and little finger. Risk Factors Medial epicondylitis typically affects people older than 35. It is a common complaint of athletes who play golf and racquet sports. It also commonly affects people who play throwing sports, such as baseball and football, and people who participate in weight training. Certain occupations can also raise a person's risk. This condition is common among painters, carpenters and people who use computers. Treatment Treatment options may include rest, ice, anti-inflammatory medications and stretching exercises. A physician may recommend an arm brace or wrist splint and physical therapy or massage therapy. Steroid injections or PRP injections may also provide relief.




Overuse Injuries of the Elbow


Overview - Overuse Injuries of the Elbow If you are an athlete, or if you work with your arms and hands, your elbows may be at risk for an overuse injury. This is an injury caused by repetitive motions. This type of injury can be a problem for people who play sports such as tennis or baseball. Children also have a higher risk, because their bones are still growing. Causes - Overuse Injuries of the Elbow The elbow is a complex joint where three bones meet. When you do the same arm motion again and again, you can put a lot of stress on this joint. You can fracture a bone, or you can damage the cartilage that protects the ends of your bones. You can stretch or tear the ligaments that stabilize the joint. You can injure the tendons that anchor your muscles to the bones. These injuries can compress or irritate the nerves in your elbow. And these injuries can be slow to heal. Symptoms - Overuse Injuries of the Elbow If you have an overuse injury, you may have pain and swelling. You may hear sounds such as clicking or popping when you move your elbow. You may feel weakness, numbness or tingling. These symptoms can affect your arm and your hand. Treatment - Overuse Injuries of the Elbow Treatment options depend on your specific injury. Often, elbow injuries can be treated with rest, ice, medication and physical therapy. You may benefit from a brace or a cast. Your healthcare provider can create a plan that is right for you.