Elbow fractures usually involve a fall on an outstretched arm or either direct trauma to the elbow region. Associated nerve and blood vessel damage can also occur with an elbow dislocation. Fractures are an emergency and need immediate reduction to ensure proper recovery of the bones and the joint.
Loose bodies are usually the result of old injuries or osteoarthritis with noted locking and pain in the elbow. Surgical may be necessary only if conservative care fails.
Ulnar nerve injuries result from excessive valgus stress on the elbow during repeated throwing such as during the cocking phase of throwing. A direct injury to the nerve such as hitting your funny bone can result in nerve damage. An injury to the ulnar nerve causes numbness/tingling in the ring and pinky fingers. Conservative treatments include changing throwing technique, bracing, and therapeutic exercise.
The biceps tendon is ruptured from a sudden forceful straightening of the elbow while the biceps muscle is contracting. Sudden forearm pain will follow which requires surgical fixation most of the time. Physical therapy is necessary post-surgically for the recovery of range of motion, strength, and function.
The distal part of the triceps will rupture with sudden forced bending while the elbow is being straightened. As with a biceps tendon rupture, surgical repair is required followed by physical therapy for post-surgical rehabilitation.
Medial epicondylitis, also known as golfer’s elbow, occurs in individuals who play racquet sports or golf. These people may overuse the forearm, traumatize the elbow, or have poor swing technique. Symptoms include pain over the inner part of the elbow and pain with resisted wrist flexion. Conservative treatments include activity modification, anti-inflammatories, ice, and stretching/strengthening. Surgery in not typically indicated.
Lateral epicondylitis causes pain over the lateral aspect of the elbow. Tennis elbow is a common name for lateral epicondylitis. Pain at the elbow could be caused from forearm tendons that attach to the elbow, referred pain, elbow joint pain, or pain from the radial nerve close to the elbow. This condition occurs most often from repetitive use of the arm, especially with a clinched fist. Symptoms include local tenderness and pain with resisted wrist extension. As with medial epicondylitis, conservative treatments include activity modification, anti-inflammatories, ice, and stretching/strengthening.