The elbows are the hinge joints between the upper and lower arm bones. These joints enable us to bend our arms in a range of motion that allows activities such as lifting, pushing, and pulling. Unfortunately, elbow injuries can occur due to falls or sudden movements that may cause pain and limit mobility.
Elbow injuries fall into four categories: traumatic, degenerative, inflammatory, and overuse. Here are the most common causes of these conditions and the corresponding treatment for them:
1. Traumatic Injuries
Traumatic elbow injuries usually result from a direct blow to the joint or a fall onto an outstretched arm. The most common examples are:
- Dislocations – when the bones of the elbow joint become misaligned
- Fracture – when there is a break or crack in the bone around the joint
- Ligament tears – when ligaments that run between the bones stretch too far
Treatment for Traumatic Injuries
Treatment for traumatic injuries usually includes rest, ice, compression, and elevation.
It also involves immobilization with a splint or sling. For the best results, you can combine it with physical therapy to limit the amount of movement to allow healing.
In some cases, surgery may be necessary.
2. Degenerative Injuries
Degenerative elbow injuries are due to the wearing away of cartilage in the joint, usually as a result of aging. The most common are these two:
- Osteoarthritis – when the cartilage between two bones wears away
- Rheumatoid arthritis – when the body’s immune system attacks the joint
Treatment for Degenerative Injuries
Treatment for these conditions focuses on these things:
- Managing pain
- Restoring function
- Slowing the progression of joint damage
There is no single treatment for these conditions. You should consult a doctor or physical therapist when considering different options.
You may need physical therapy exercises to improve your range of motion and strength. You may also benefit from medications, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs.
Lastly, lifestyle modifications such as weight management, physical activity, and stress reduction are helpful.
3. Inflammatory Injuries
Inflammatory elbow injuries result from various diseases. For example, gout is a type of arthritis caused by the buildup of uric acid in the joint. On the other hand, tendinitis occurs when the tendons around the elbow become inflamed.
Common symptoms include:
- Tenderness to the touch
Treatment for Inflammatory Injuries
Treatment for these conditions focuses on controlling the pain and reducing the inflammation through medications. NSAIDs or corticosteroid injections may help ease swelling and soreness.
You should also rest your elbow and apply an ice pack to reduce swelling after activity.
Additionally, physical therapy can help strengthen muscles surrounding the joint, helping you regain range of motion in the affected area.
4. Overuse Injuries
Overuse elbow injuries result from repetitive motions over a long period and can lead to inflammation. Common symptoms include:
- Pain when bending the arm
- Tenderness in the affected area
- Swelling near the joint
The most common overuse injury is the tennis elbow. It occurs when the tendons around your joint become inflamed due to repetitive motions. It affects the dominant arm in up to 50% of cases and is most common in players aged 30-50.
Another example is the golfer’s elbow, which affects the inner side of your joint.
Treatment for Overuse Injuries
Treatment for these conditions includes rest, ice, and NSAIDs or corticosteroid injections. Physical therapy may also help you regain range of motion and strength in the elbow.
In addition, you can make lifestyle modifications such as limiting repetitive activities and using a brace to support your elbow. For severe cases, surgery may be necessary to repair the damaged tendons or ligaments around the joint.
The Best Elbow Doctor in Plantation, FL
Are you looking for the best elbow doctor in Plantation, Florida? You can trust our highly trained expert team at Baylis and Brown Orthopedics. We have board-certified and fellowship-trained healthcare providers who want the best for our patients.
We look forward to helping you live an active and pain-free life!