The elbow is a well-used, sometimes overused, unique body part. It operates as both a hinge joint and rotating joint. Sports injuries are especially common in the elbow, from tennis elbow to golfer’s elbow, and it’s a prime source of tendonitis. Are you concerned about elbow pain? If so, learn more about common elbow injuries, types of orthopedic injuries we treat, read reviews, meet Dr. Peter Tsai and Dr. Keith Neaman, and see why patients choose Mend Clinic as their ER alternative in Salem, Oregon. Book your appointment online, walk-in, or call (971) 204-8410.
Even if you’ve never been on a tennis court, you could suffer from tennis elbow. Also known as lateral epicondylitis, this common injury usually needs just mild treatment. It presents as pain on the outside of the arm, close to the elbow point. Tennis elbow is an injury to the tendons and muscles in the forearm. Tendons, which connect bone to muscle, have a big job. Repetitive stress, whether it’s hitting a tennis ball, chopping wood, or working as a butcher, can lead to tennis elbow.
Untreated tennis elbow can become long-term or chronic. Up to three percent of people have had tennis elbow, and most are between 30 – 50 years old. Butchers and assembly line workers especially suffer from tennis elbow, making it a common work-related injury. There’s also golfer’s elbow, which has the pain on the inside of the elbow and is caused by movements such as weight lifting, golf, and even shaking hands.
Not as well known as its cousin, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, cubital tunnel syndrome stretches or puts pressure on the “funny bone,” also known as the ulnar nerve. The funny bone isn’t a bone at all, but a nerve that helps control the pinky and ring finger. It travels up the forearm, and cubital tunnel syndrome can cause a numbness or tingle in the pinky and ring finger.
The funny bone doesn’t have much padding, which is why it’s so easy to aggravate. Direct pressure, long bouts of stretching, and simply having the nerve move back and forth across the elbow bone can aggravate the nerve. Fortunately, treatment is usually mild when addressed early.
Ligaments are thick, fibrous materials that connect bone to bone and provide a cushion. The elbow includes three bones, and ligaments connect them and elbow sprains and other injuries are common. The two elbow ligaments include the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL, connecting the ulna bone), the radial collateral ligament (RCL, connecting the radius bone), and the annular ligament (covers the head of the radius to keep it in contact with the ulna).
The UCL can be frayed, torn, or stretched through repetitive stress injuries, usually throwing motions. Professional baseball pitchers are the most common athletes suffering from UCL injuries, but they are a common sports injury.
RCL ligament injuries of the elbow and annular ligament injuries are also often caused by overuse. However, ligament injuries can also be caused by sudden, forced arm twisting or a slip and fall that’s “broken” with an outstretched hand.
When a bone or bones are forced out of their normal position, they become dislocated. This is often accompanied by a torn or sprained ligament, the connective tissue that links bone to bone. Since the elbow is comprised of three bones, the dislocation might be partial or complete. Elbow dislocations are rare, and usually occur during a slip and fall when a person breaks the fall with an outstretched hand. Falls can also cause turning and twisting, which can force the elbow from its socket. Work-related injuries, sports injuries, and car accidents are common causes of elbow dislocation.
The elbow is made up of three bones, and any of them can be fractured (broken). A bone break is painful and can lead to permanent disability if not quickly treated. Symptoms can also include swelling, stiffness, and bruising. Some people report a popping sound when an elbow is fractured, and sometimes a physical deformity might be evident. The three types of elbow fractures include the radial head/neck fractures, olecranon fractures, and distal humerus fractures (most common in the elderly and young children). Elbow fractures might be caused by slip and fall accidents, work-related injuries, and sports injuries.
Elbow pain can stem from many issues including torn elbow ligaments, elbow fractures, nerve damage including cubital tunnel syndrome, elbow lacerations, and dislocated elbows. The team at Mend Clinic works closely with the patient and their existing care team for fast, accurate diagnoses that lead to a holistic treatment plan.