Injuries to the Elbow
An injury to the elbow is painful and limits the affected arm’s movement in everyday activities such as mowing the lawn, driving a car or carrying a child or bags of groceries. Falling on an oustretched arm can result in fracturing the radial head or olecranon. A distal humerus fracture (in the lower end of the upper humerus bone that connects to the elbow) often results in several broken pieces, referred to as a comminuted fracture.
Overuse injuries of the elbow typically afflict athletes who repeatedly throw a ball or other sports apparatus. This injury gradually worsens over time. Overthrowing injuries affect the tendons (flexor tendinitis) and ligaments (UCL injury) of the elbow. Stress fractures, which are tiny cracks located in the bone, can also occur when muscles around the elbow are not able to absorb the shock of repetitive use.
Although uncommon, adult elbow dislocations usually occur when falling on an outstretched hand or in a car accident when bracing for impact. However, partial dislocations, referred to as nursemaid’s elbow, are more common in children.
When to See a Specialist
Seek treatment if you are experiencing any of the following elbow symptoms:
- Tenderness to the touch
- A feeling of instability in the joint, as if your elbow is going to “pop out”
Your doctor will discuss all treatment options with you. The best treatment for your injury or condition will be determined in combination with your overall health.
There are several nonoperative treatment options for elbow pain. These might include immobilizing the afflicted elbow by applying a cast or using a sling, physical therapy or pain management in the form of over-the-counter or prescribed medications and/or anti-inflammatories. If surgery is necessary, PSO elbow specialists can perform a wide variety of procedures ranging from minimally invasive to major reconstruction.