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Elbow Injuries

Elbow injuries are fairly common and can be extremely painful, resulting in swelling and bruising.

 

1) Epicondylitis / Tennis Elbow

This refers to the inflammation of the muscles and tendons.

When it occurs in the elbow it is commonly referred to as Tennis Elbow. As the name suggests, it is known for affecting tennis players. This is due to the fact that it occurs where there has been strenuous overuse of the tendons of the forearm, leading to inflammation where the tendon/muscle join.

Pain is usually present on the bony lump on the outside of the elbow, which is known as the lateral epicondyle.

Tennis Elbow is self-limiting, in that the condition does not typically worsen and recovery is usually between six months and two years.

Anti-inflammatory painkillers and application of cold therapy can often reduce mild pain that is caused by tennis elbow. However, severe or prolonged pain may be treated with a corticosteroid injection. Surgery is only carried out in very severe, reoccurring cases.

Golfer’s Elbow is a similar condition to Tennis Elbow except that pain occurs on the inside of the elbow instead and is aggravated by a throwing action.

 

2) Olecranon Bursitis

Olecranon bursitis, is characterised by a swelling and tenderness behind the elbow joint over the bony prominence called the olecranon.

It is most commonly caused by mild but repeated injury (such as constant leaning on the elbows), over a prolonged period of time. One off injuries can sometimes trigger inflammation.

This condition is self-limiting, usually clearing up by itself without the need for medical intervention.

 

3) Elbow Fractures

Broken bones can occur in the elbow joint after injuries such as falls, accidents and sports injuries. The most common elbow fractures are olecranon fractures and radial head fractures.

Symptoms present in the form of:

  • Pain which is often severe
  • Tenderness, swelling and bruising around the elbow
  • Numbness in fingers, hand, or forearm
  • Decreased range of motion
  • A lump or visible deformity over the fracture site

 Medical attention will need to be sought immediately, where the fracture will be assessed and a plan formulated to re-set the bones.

 

4) Elbow Dislocation

An elbow dislocation occurs when the upper arm and forearm are separated from their normal position and the bones of the elbow become misaligned.

A dislocated elbow occurs usually as a result of a fall, or a direct blow and often involves an associated fracture of the Radius, Humerus or Ulna.

Medical attention will need to be sought immediately, where they will assess the dislocation and manipulate the elbow into a position which forces the bones back together. The patient should not attempt to pop the bone back in themselves, as this may cause further damage. To reduce pain and swelling apply Ice and place the elbow in a sling to support it.

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