Common Elbow Injuries and What to Do About Them

Common Elbow Injuries: What to Know About Common Elbow Injuries?

Elbows are one of the most common joints in your body. They’re located at the side of your face, between your shoulder blades and above your earlobes. Your elbows are connected with each other through ligaments (bands) and tendons (muscles). When you bend your arms, they move up and down. The muscles attached to the joint contract, which causes the forearm bones to rotate clockwise or counterclockwise. These movements cause the fingers to curl back toward your palm and raise your thumb towards your hand.

The tips of these fingers are called ulnar styloid processes (USPs), which means “thumb” in Latin. The USP is where the nerve roots originate.

If there’s any damage to the nerves, then these finger movements will become difficult.

There are many types of injuries that may affect your elbow. Some are minor, while others require medical attention.

Common elbow injuries typically occur during sports. If you feel pain while throwing, swinging or punching, then it may be because of an injury. Common elbow injuries are easy to avoid if you know the proper steps to take and the ways to strengthen your muscles.

Common Elbow Injuries: Treatment

Common Elbow Injuries in Children

Most people experience minor pain in their elbow at some point. You may feel minor pain when throwing, swinging or punching a ball.

If you are experiencing pain in your elbow, rest is an important part of the healing process. You should ice the affected area immediately after you injure it. This will help reduce the swelling and go back to the activity gradually. Apply an ice pack wrapped in a cotton towel to the injured area for about 15 minutes every couple of hours for 48 hours. After 48 hours, apply it for about 15 minutes after doing the activity that caused the injury. After a few days, you may notice the tenderness is less severe. If your pain continues to get worse or you’re experiencing other symptoms such as tingling, numbness or increased swelling, you should see a doctor.

Tennis elbow is a condition in which you feel pain on the outside of your elbow. It can become quite painful, especially when trying to grip something or during repetitive motions such as hammering a nail.

You can try to treat it yourself by resting, applying ice and taking over-the-counter pain relievers. If you continue to have problems or the pain gets worse, you should see your doctor. Your doctor will examine your elbow to see if you have tennis elbow and can suggest ways to relieve your pain and prevent it from happening again.

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Elbow arthritis is a type of degenerative joint disease (DJD) that causes pain, swelling and loss of motion in your elbow. As you get older, the tissues around your elbow tendons and ligaments can become damaged and cause pain.

The pain usually begins gradually and gets worse over time. It is most common in people between the ages of 60 and 70. You can treat elbow arthritis by resting the affected area, applying ice and taking over-the-counter pain relievers. Your doctor may also suggest prescription pain medications or physical therapy. If the pain continues to get worse, you may need surgery.

Golfer’s elbow is a condition in which you feel pain on the inside of your elbow. It is similar to tennis elbow but it occurs on the opposite side.

This condition happens when the cartilage around your joints begins to break down, causing the bones to rub together. You may experience swelling, pain and loss of motion in your elbow. As this condition progresses, the pain can worsen. You can treat osteoarthritis by resting, applying ice, taking over-the-counter pain relievers and strengthening the muscles in your arms. To strengthen your muscles, your doctor may recommend physical therapy. If the pain is severe or continues to get worse, surgery may be required.

You brought your elbow into contact with a hard surface, causing an injury. You can treat a dislocated elbow by gently moving the joint in a circular motion until it “slides” back into place.

If this does not work, or if you feel sharp pains, see a doctor immediately. You may need someone to pop it back into place for you. After you get it back in place, gently cradle your elbow in the crook of your other arm and keep it elevated. You can try to reduce the pain by applying an ice pack.

You knocked your elbow against a hard or jagged surface. This can cause a contusion, or bruise, on the inside of your elbow.

A contusion can cause pain, swelling and a loss of motion in the joint. You can treat a contusion by gently moving the elbow in a circular motion until the pain subsides. You can also try to reduce the pain by applying an ice pack.

You hit your forearm against something, such as a doorframe or table corner, causing bruising on the skin under your forearm. As the skin is not designed to bear weight or resist pressure, this can lead to bruising.

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There is no real treatment for a bruise on the skin other than applying an ice pack to reduce pain and discomfort.

Vertebral fractures are the most common type of broken arm. They usually occur when there is a large force applied to your upper arm, causing one or more bones in your arm to crack or break.

You may remember an event in which this occurred, such as a car crash, or the injury may have occurred without you realising. Vertebral fractures normally cause sharp pain followed by swelling and bruising. You can treat a vertebral fracture by keeping your arm raised to reduce swelling and taking over-the-counter pain medication. Your doctor may also recommend using a sling or brace.

A common cause of broken arms in children is a fall. When a child falls and hits their arm on the ground, on a toy or other object, or on another person, it is common for the arm to bend or twist in such a way that the bone breaks or fractures.

You should take a child with a broken arm to see a doctor immediately. A child with a broken arm will have severe pain and may find moving the arm difficult or impossible.

A broken arm is a common injury that results in one or more of the long bones in your arm snapping or breaking. This can be the result of a direct hit on your arm, such as in a car crash, or an indirect force, such as falling and breaking your arm against the corner of a table.

1 Recognise the symptoms of a broken arm. Common symptoms of a broken arm include pain, swelling, bruising and discolouring.

You may also experience tingling or loss of feeling in the arm. If you suspect that you have a broken arm, seek medical attention immediately.

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2 Keep the broken arm raised above your heart to reduce swelling if you are able to. This can be done by holding the broken arm up in the air using a sling, brace or puffy jacket.

A broken arm is relatively easy to diagnose if you encounter the symptoms. It is common for people to complain of severe pain in the area in which the break occurred, especially when movement occurs. The person experiencing a broken arm may also complain of swelling, bruising and limited range of motion in the injured area.

2 Keep the patient calm. If you or someone else experiences a broken arm, it is important to remain calm throughout the entire process of diagnosis and treatment.

Be careful not to move or twist the arm.

3 Take pain medication if recommended by a physician or recommended over-the-counter pain medication. Take the medication exactly as directed to obtain the best possible relief.

4 Gently apply an ice pack wrapped in a towel to the injury for around 15 minutes every few hours, but not to the point where the skin becomes cold or blue. This can help reduce swelling.

Getting upset or agitated can lead to increased blood flow to the injured area which can make the symptoms of a broken arm worse.

3 Seek medical attention immediately. While a broken arm is a common injury that requires medical attention, there are several other reasons why you may experience your arm becoming painful, swelling, discolouring and otherwise breaking down.

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Some of these include muscular dystrophy, rheumatoid or osteoarthritis and septic arthritis.

5 See a physician if the pain persists or if you have any questions about your treatment.

6 Apply a splint or sling to keep your arm steady while it heals. While a brace can help to hold the broken bone stable, it is not usually recommended to wear one unless specifically recommended by a physician.

It is important to remain still and let your arm heal in place. If you have any questions about your treatment or if the pain persists, seek medical attention immediately.

7 Rest your arm as much as possible. In addition to being able to treat you effectively, a physician can give you a prescription for strong pain medication if needed.

6 Talk with your physician about recovering from your broken arm. While you may not be able to avoid the pain of recovering from a broken bone, there are some steps that you can take at home to make things easier.

Take it easy and get plenty of rest: do as little as possible for around two weeks. Complete bed rest is not necessary, but you should try to take it easy for a while.

8 Apply an elastic bandage when you begin to feel better. Elbow and wrist exercises can help strengthen the arm and improve flexibility once healing is complete.

9 Continue with range of motion exercises as pain allows. Range of motion exercises can be done by gently moving your arm through as full a range of motion as possible.

This can help to prevent the loss of motion that occurs with some broken bones.

10 Wear a backpack or bookbag over the non-injured arm to encourage proper healing. Wearing a backpack will hold your arm in the same position for long periods of time.

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This can help healing and prevent your bone from setting in an improper position, which can cause a bad limp or problems with your shoulder, as an example. Wearing a backpack over the injured arm can also help to prevent your child from over exerting themselves before the bone has healed.

11 See a physician if you experience severe pain or your arm begins to turn blue or becomes discolored. While these may not be signs of a broken arm, they can be signs of something more serious.

It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Sources & references used in this article:

Common elbow injuries in sport by LD Field, FH Savoie – Sports medicine, 1998 – Springer

Shoulder and elbow injuries in the skeletally immature athlete by FS Chen, VA Diaz, M Loebenberg… – JAAOS-Journal of the …, 2005 – journals.lww.com

Risk factors for shoulder and elbow injuries in adolescent baseball pitchers by SJ Olsen, GS Fleisig, S Dun, J Loftice… – … American journal of …, 2006 – journals.sagepub.com

Elbow injuries in golf by AR Stockard – The Journal of the American Osteopathic …, 2001 – Am Osteopathic Assoc

A review of epidemiology of paediatric elbow injuries in sports by M Magra, D Caine, N Maffulli – Sports medicine, 2007 – Springer

Prevention of elbow injuries in youth baseball pitchers by GS Fleisig, JR Andrews – Sports health, 2012 – journals.sagepub.com

Elbow injury in women’s gymnastics by JD Priest, DJ Weise – The American journal of sports …, 1981 – journals.sagepub.com

Acute backpack injuries in children by BM Wiersema, EJ Wall, SL Foad – Pediatrics, 2003 – Am Acad Pediatrics

Prevention of elbow injuries in youth baseball pitchers by GS Fleisig, A Weber, N Hassell… – Current sports medicine …, 2009 – journals.lww.com