One need not play tennis in order to develop tennis elbow. In fact, this condition is actually more typical among carpenters, plumbers and chefs – people who do repetitive high-impact tasks with their arms. When overworked or incorrectly worked, the tendons in the elbow become swollen or strained. This causes the tendon to rub against a bony bump on the inside of the elbow, which leads to elbow pain. Sufferers may find it difficult to grasp a cup, turn a doorknob or shake hands because the weakened elbow isn’t helping to support the forearm and hands.
Rest and over-the-counter pain relievers may provide a temporary alleviation of the symptoms, but if when elbow strain persists, it may be best to have an orthopedic physician assess the pain and proved treatment options.
Baseball pitchers are among those athletes who most commonly suffer injuries to ligaments in the elbow as a result of stress occurring from repetitive motion and overuse. Collateral ligaments are the outer and inner ligaments that hold the elbow joint in place. The UCL is the ulnar collateral ligament that connects the inner side of the humerus bone to the inner side of the ulna bone. Because pitchers place extraordinary stress on the UCL, this is often where the injury occurs.
Ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) reconstruction surgery is known to many as Tommy John surgery. Tommy John is a famous Major League Baseball pitcher who underwent a UCL procedure that used tendon from elsewhere in the body to successfully replace an ulnar collateral ligament in the medial elbow. Following his famous surgery, Tommy John was able to continue his highly successful career as a professional baseball pitcher.
The orthopedic surgeons at the New York Sports Medicine Institute are proficient at performing ligament construction of the elbow procedures for high performing athletes and weekend warriors alike.
Elbow dislocation refers to the condition of the joint surfaces becoming separated. Elbow dislocation can be a severe and painful injury to sustain, especially in the case of a complete dislocation, where joint surfaces are completely separated. A partial dislocation also referred to as a subluxation, is less severe. Elbow dislocation is frequently the result of trauma suffered to the elbow.
Elbow dislocation can also be described as simple or complex. Simple dislocation applies to cases without substantial bone injury, whereas complex dislocation consists of substantial injuries to bone and ligament. Depending on the severity of elbow dislocations, treatment can range from various non-surgical to surgical procedures.
Elbow instability from dislocation is a common injury that creates looseness in the elbow joint. Elbow instability caused by dislocation will often result in the loose elbow that is prone to pop or catch, and to slip out of place. Chronic elbow instability is a condition that requires medical treatment for optimal healing.
Elbow fractures are frequently the result of trauma to the region, whether the by direct contact or indirect force, such as landing awkwardly on an outstretched hand or arm. Olecranon fractures are common of injuries to the elbow caused by trauma. The olecranon is the pointy tip of the bent elbow – the lower part of the ulna bone. A direct blow to the olecranon can result in a painful elbow fracture.
In the case of an olecranon fracture where none of the bone fragments are “out of place,” the injury may be successfully treated non-surgically, by immobilizing the elbow and allowing the body to heal itself. In the case of an elbow fracture that is “displaced,” surgery is often required.
Use, age, and genetics can contribute to a number of medical disorders that affect the joint and surrounding bones. Bursitis, tendonitis or arthritis in the elbow – all conditions that one may initially be dismissed as simply a sports injury or “overdoing it” – can be treated and healed. Young athletes in high-impact activities like gymnastics and baseball (pitching) are prone to osteochondritis dissecans, which is a loss of blood supply to the cartilage of the elbow joint.
Repetitive motion and other stresses to the elbow can result in the formation of a loose fragment of cartilage or bone referred to as loose bodies. Loose bodies in the elbow are relatively common for weightlifting athletes and those who perform occupations that include heavy manual labor. Loose bodies in the elbow may create pain and discomfort. In cases where the discomfort is significant, arthroscopic surgery is an option to remove loose bodies in the elbow.
Osteoarthritis of the elbow is a condition in which the joint cartilage is compromised, usually as related to age-related degeneration or the result of an elbow injury, such as a fracture. Osteoarthritis of the elbow can be diagnosed with X-rays. There are a number of non-surgical treatments for osteoarthritis of the elbow, including injections of corticosteroid or hyaluronic acid. Arthroscopic surgical solutions may also be warranted in certain cases.
The ulnar nerve, which informs the brain of feelings tied to the fourth and fifth fingers, runs down the inside of the elbow. The ulnar nerve is behind the “funny bone” that tingles and stings when one hits the elbow the wrong way – but since the ulnar isn’t a bone at all, it will not fracture.
Severe elbow pain is most often treated with arthroscopic surgery, a minimally invasive procedure that cleans the elbow of loose cartilage releases scar tissue, and contributes to the healing of rheumatoid arthritis.
Our orthopedic surgeons are specialized in modern upper extremity procedures, including orthopedic surgery to alleviate pain while fostering a long-term recovery for the affected joint.
Patients suffering from acute or chronic elbow pain should consult with a physician to evaluate the source of elbow pain. We provide onsite X-rays when required for proper diagnosis and onsite physical therapy to help patients heal from elbow pain and restore range of motion.
The most common course of action for elbow pain or injury includes: