Elbow Injuries

Are you experiencing elbow or forearm pain? You may have one of the following:

 
Tennis Elbow:

elbow injuriesAlso known as lateral epicondylitis. Tennis elbow stems from overuse, improper muscle strength, and repetitive movement of the wrist or elbow where the tendons at the elbow become stressed due to poor mechanics (i.e. typing, racquetball, tennis, golf). Localized pain at the lateral (outside) elbow is present with wrist and elbow movement. Pain can become so intense that lifting a glass of water may be a chore!  Tennis elbow can be difficult to relieve if mechanics and flexibility/strength issues are not addressed. Ice massage and anti-inflammatories may help with the acute pain, but therapy may be required to address proper work and leisure ergonomics as well as muscle imbalances. Thermal or electrical modalities may be used to decrease inflammation and promote tissue healing. Splinting of the wrist may also be utilized to rest the muscles around the elbow during this time of healing. Many sporting goods stores carry straps that are placed below the elbow to help reduce pain. While these straps may be beneficial for some, they should not be considered as a cure-all, and improper use may even worsen symptoms. Our professional staff will also be able to analyze your golf swing or racquet stroke to prevent further injury.

Golfer’s Elbow: 

Also known as medial epicondylitis. Similar to tennis elbow with associated pain and decreased movement, but golfer’s elbow occurs on the inside of the elbow. Golfer’s elbow presents similar signs and symptoms as tennis elbow and is also difficult to heal if not handled properly. Therapeutic management of golfer’s elbow is very similar to that of tennis elbow. Splinting may be used to decrease strain on the muscles, and the use of anti-inflammatories will help with tissue swelling and pain. Therapy focuses on restoration of muscle balances (flexibility and strengthening), education on causative factors and prevention, and thermal and electrical modalities to decrease inflammation and facilitate healing. Our professional staff will also be able to analyze your golf swing or racquet stroke to prevent further injury.

Pronator Syndrome:

This condition involves the compression of the median nerve in the forearm. The median nerve passes into the forearm down the front of the elbow and passes under ligaments and into muscles. Compression of this nerve in the forearm generally occurs as it enters between two heads of a muscle—the pronator teres (thus the name “pronator” syndrome). The pronator teres muscle turns the palm of the hand down. Patients with this condition usually complain of an aching pain in the forearm, increased pain with gripping while the forearm is pronated (palm down), decreased strength, and forearm fatigue.  Conservative management is generally the first course of treatment. Occupational therapy may be prescribed for splint fabrication to limit forearm rotation, nerve gliding exercises, stretches to maintain flexibility, and activity and job modification to restrict repetitive forearm rotation. If the condition is unresponsive to conservative treatment, surgical decompression of the nerve may be considered.

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome:

This condition involves the ulnar nerve as it travels down the inside of the arm behind the elbow. This nerve lies in a groove on the inside of the elbow. If you’ve ever hit your “funny bone” then you’ve experienced the symptoms of Cubital Tunnel Syndrome—elbow pain and numbness/tingling in the ring and small fingers. If left untreated, it can progress to significant hand weakness and a “claw” deformity of the ring and small fingers. It is exacerbated by repetitive or static bending of the elbow, arthritis, or trauma to the elbow.  Treatment for Cubital Tunnel Syndrome includes use of anti-inflammatories to reduce swelling, splinting of the elbow at night to prevent bending of the elbow and stretching of the nerve, and use of an elbow pad during the day to protect the nerve. You may be referred to an occupational therapist for splint fabrication, education on proper body mechanics and workstation set-up, nerve gliding exercises, and exercises to maintain range of motion and strength.

Fractures:

Fractures may be caused by falling on an outstretched arm or by direct trauma to the elbow. The elbow has three joints that are surrounded by ligaments. Because of its complex structure, improper alignment of the bones and any associated ligament damage can significantly reduce elbow motion, stability, and function. It is very important to seek medical attention if an elbow fracture is suspected.

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