The elbow joint is formed of three bones. The upper arm bone (humerus) meets the inner and outer bones of the forearm (ulna & radius) and forms a hinge joint, which permits the elbow to bend and straighten. The radius and ulna also meet in the elbow, which allows the forearm to rotate (twisting upward and downward).
The major muscles that move the elbow are the triceps (straighten the elbow) and the biceps (bending the elbow). Some muscles that move the wrist and hand also attach to either the outside of the elbow (lateral epicondyle) or to the inside of the elbow (medial epicondyle).
A fluid-filled sac (bursa), overlies on the tip of the elbow (olecranon bursa) and serves to reduce friction between parts of the elbow.
There are many possible injuries that can occur to the elbow including:
Lateral epicondylitis, also known as tennis elbow, is pain or soreness on the outer part of the elbow. The pain may spread down the forearm and even into the wrist. This happens when the tendons, which connect the muscles of the forearm to the elbow, get inflamed.
Most of the time, lateral epicondylitis is caused from overuse, such as:
If the injury is left untreated, simple activities such as opening a door or jar, gripping, turning a key, repetitive movements of the wrist or even lifting will become painful and difficult.
Medial epicondylitis, also known as golfer’s elbow, is similar to lateral epicondylitis, but the pain occurs on the inner part of the elbow and may also radiate down the forearm. This happens when the tendons, which connect the muscles of the forearm to the elbow, get inflamed.
Medial epicondylitis is usually caused from overusing the muscles in the forearm, which allows gripping, rotating the arm, and flexing the wrist.
Olecranon bursitis is the inflammation of the small sac of fluid (bursa) found at the back of the elbow. The back of the elbow might get swollen, tender, red and warm to the touch.
Olecranon bursitis is often caused by:
There may be different causes to elbow fractures, which include:
The elbow is a very complex joint and sometimes can be “unforgiving” after an injury. The joint may develop certain problems. The way your elbow heals will depend on different factors such as your age, your medical condition and the type of injury sustained.
Following are some of the more common problems related with broken elbows:
An elbow dislocation occurs when one of the bones of the forearm (radius & ulna) becomes separated from the bone of the upper arm (humerus). This is usually caused by a fall on the arm or any traumatic injury such as a motor vehicle accident.
As arteries and nerves run by the elbow, it is possible to cause injury to these during an elbow dislocation. For this reason it is very important to seek medical help after this type of injury.
Symptoms of an elbow dislocation can include:
With kids, the radial head subluxation is the main cause of elbow dislocation. This happens when the radial bone has popped out of place.
The ulnar nerve, also known as the “funny bone”, can be pinched at the inner side of the elbow. This “pinching” is known as ulnar nerve entrapment. With this injury, tingling and numbness of the pinky and middle finger can be felt as well as pain in the entire forearm is possible.
Physiotherapists at Pro Care Physiotherapy & Athletes’ Injury Center can help with all elbow conditions after performing a thorough assessment. The treatment may include: