The elbow joint connects the upper and lower arm. Its frequent use in many types of movement makes it susceptible to a variety of injuries, and pain associated with elbow injuries can have a serious impact on your daily life.
Some of these injuries can be treated with conservative procedures such as physical rehabilitation or bracing, while other injuries may need to be treated with injections or surgery.
Identifying your elbow condition will help your physician diagnose your injury. You may need to undergo diagnostic testing to narrow down the source of your pain. Your physician will be able to use this information to help create your personalized treatment plan.
Types of Common Conditions and Injuries
Many types of conditions and injuries can affect the muscles, tendons, and bones of the elbow. These can be the result of overuse, trauma, or other circumstances, and they can affect patients of all ages. Follow the links below to learn more about common elbow injuries and conditions that the expert physicians at Resurgens Orthopaedics can help treat.
Cubital tunnel, also known as ulnar nerve entrapment, is a condition that occurs when the ulnar nerve is constricted or constrained. You may be experiencing this condition if you feel tingling or numbness in your arm. Generally, doctors elect conservative treatment like bracing or changes in activity. However, if the condition is causing muscle weakness or damage in your hand, your doctor may recommend surgery.
Bursitis occurs when the olecranon bursa (a thin fluid-filled sac located at the bony protrusion of the elbow) becomes irritated or inflamed, causing fluid to collect. The fluid build-up causes restricted movement and pain. There are numerous potential causes for the condition, including trauma and repeated movement. Elbow Bursitis can be treated with non-surgical and surgical options. Your doctor will need to conduct an evaluation of the elbow to determine the extent of treatment.
Growth Plate Injuries
Growth plate injuries usually occur in children and are the result of a trauma event, such as a fall or a car accident. Symptoms of this condition include pain and tenderness, the inability to move the affected area, or warmth and swelling at the end of the bone. Immediate treatment is important to avoid a crooked or diminished limb. Treatment is usually nonsurgical and involves casting. However, in severe cases, your doctor may recommend surgery.
A hyperextension occurs when the elbow joint bends beyond its normal movement, causing damage to the ligaments and bones of the elbow. Severe cases may cause elbow dislocation, circulation problems, or elbow deformity. People with this condition experience pain, stiffness, loss of strength, and muscle spasms, among other conditions. The condition is generally treated with nonsurgical methods, but your doctor may recommend surgery for severe injury.
Biceps tendonitis occurs when the biceps tendon - the strong, cord-like structure that connects the biceps to the bones in the shoulder - experiences irritation or inflammation due to repetitive stress. The condition is treatable with conservative, nonsurgical and surgical options. Your doctor will prescribe appropriate treatment.
Lateral Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow)
Lateral epicondylitis, also called tennis elbow, is an inflammation of the tendons that join the forearm muscles to the elbow. Repetitive motion and overuse causes these muscles and tendons to become painful and tender. There are many treatment options for lateral epicondylitis, including RICE, physical therapy and surgical options.
Medial apophysitis occurs when repetitive throwing motions overexert the ligaments and tendons of the elbow. The condition can tear tendons and ligaments from the bone, and may even take bone fragments with it. Serious strains can cause deformity from disrupted bone growth. Also known as "Little Leaguer's Elbow," this condition primarily affects children.
Medial Epicondylitis (Golfer's Elbow)
Medial epicondylitis is one of the most common injuries in golf, hence the nickname "Golfer's Elbow." Golfer's Elbow happens when the tendons that attach the bone to your elbow become inflamed due to repetitive stress. This condition causes severe pain and tenderness on the inside of the elbow and can cause related pain in the lower back. Treatment options for the condition vary from nonsurgical treatment to surgical intervention.
Medial Ulnar Collateral Ligament Injury
Medial ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) injury refers to damage of a ligament that helps hold the elbow joint together. The UCL is one of two ligaments that keep the elbow from dislocation. When repetitive stress causes a damaged ligament, you may feel pain and experience bruising and/or swelling inside the arm. Talk to your doctor to learn more about available treatment options for this condition.
Osteochondritis dissecans is a condition that develops most often in children and adolescents. It occurs when a small segment of bone separates from the joint due to a lack of blood supply, causing the bone segment to crack and loosen. Symptoms include pain and swollen joints as well as joint catching/locking. Treatment options vary from nonsurgical to surgical intervention.
Overuse injuries: When you perform the same arm motion again and again, you can put a lot of stress on the elbow joint. Those motions can fracture a bone, damage the cartilage that protects the ends of your bones, stretch or tear the ligaments that stabilize the joint, and/or injure the tendons that anchor your muscles to the bones. These injuries can compress or irritate the nerves in your elbow and can be slow to heal. Overuse injuries 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.
Radial Tunnel Syndrome (Entrapment of the Radial Nerve)
Radial tunnel syndrome is the result of pressure on the radial nerve, one of three nerves in your arm. Elbow compression occurs most often when the nerve enters a tight tunnel made of muscle, bone, and tendon. Treatment can involve surgical and nonsurgical interventions.
Throwing injuries of the elbow: Throwing overhand in a repetitive manner puts a lot of stress on your elbow. In many cases, overhand throwing affects the inner side of your elbow. Throwing injuries can affect your medial epicondyle, elbow joint, cartilage, nerves, tendons, and cause fractures and bone spurs. If you are injured, you may feel elbow pain when you throw, and not be able to throw as hard or as far. You may have numbness or tingling in your elbow, arm, or hand. Young athletes, in particular, are at risk of throwing injuries since their bones are still growing.
Triceps tendonitis is caused by repeated strain on the tendon that attaches the triceps muscle to the elbow bone. Most of the time it is due to overuse, although it can also occur from trauma, arthritis, muscle tears, or dislocation. Symptoms include pain, weakness, swelling, and a popping sound in the shoulder or elbow. Your doctor will need to run diagnostic tests to determine the extent of your injury. While some injuries may require surgical intervention, most are treatable with non-surgical solutions.