Elbow Injuries and Treatments
Orthopedic Elbow Treatment at The Medical Center of Aurora
Minor elbow injuries happen regularly and do not need medical attention. Knocking your “funny bone” while momentarily painful, even causing numbness and shooting pain throughout your arm, should pass with no long lasting repercussions. An orthopedic specialist should look at more significant elbow injuries, typically caused by acute trauma or repetitive elbow motion.
Athletes will often incur elbow injuries based on the nature of their sport. Tennis and golf may lead to repetitive motion injuries, such as “tennis elbow”. Mountain climbing, wresting, football, skiing, snowboarding and hockey often lead to acute elbow injuries because of the speed and impact potential. These type of sport injuries should be treated by a sports medicine specialist.
Elbow injuries are not limited to athletes. Anyone can fall and crack or twist an elbow. This is especially a concern when walking on ice and for elderly people.
At The Medical Center of Aurora we treat many elbow injuries. Our team of orthopedic specialist and sport medicine specialists is will help educate you on your condition and treatment options, working to find the safest and most effective solution to get the you back to your life as quickly as possible.
Injuries to the Elbow
Golfer’s Elbow and Tennis Elbow
Golfer's Elbow and Tennis Elbow are forms of inflammation of the elbow tendons. The difference between the two elbow conditions is where the elbow is inflamed. Golfer’s elbow affects the inside of the elbow joint, while Tennis elbow impacts the outside of the elbow.
Initially, Golfer’s and Tennis elbow are both treated with rest, ice and anti-inflammatory pain relievers. Treatment may also include an elbow brace to immobilize and stabilize the elbow. Physical therapy may be recommended to regain motion. If these non-surgical treatments are unsuccessful in relieving pain and discomfort, surgery may be necessary. Your sports medicine specialist will help get you back to normal function quickly.
Arthritis of the Elbow
Arthritis of the elbow can be a serious medical condition causing significant pain and limiting motion, mobility and quality of life. Elbow arthritis can affect people differently. Some people may have mild symptoms with little progression, while others may have symptoms that significantly worsen over time, affecting and limiting elbow mobility.
Arthritis of the elbow is treated by relieving pain, maintaining mobility and function, and improving quality of life. Treatment may include recommended lifestyle changes, medications, surgery and more.
An elbow dislocation occurs when the bones of the elbow are pulled out of place. It often involves damage to the ligaments and sometimes damage to the bones. Elbow dislocation will make certain movements impossible, and can cause severe elbow pain and difficulty bending or moving the arm.
In most cases, orthopedic surgeons specializing in elbows can manipulate the elbow back into place. This non-surgical procedure requires pain medications and muscle relaxers before and after the elbow is moved to reduce discomfort. After the elbow has been moved back into place, treatment may include immobilization with a splint or sling, exercise and rehabilitation of the elbow, and over-the-counter or prescription pain medication during recovery.
In more complex elbow dislocation cases, an orthopedic surgeon may have to perform surgery to repair the ligaments, bones and nerves damaged by the elbow dislocation.
Elbow bursitis is inflammation of the bursa, a thin sac that lies between bone and soft tissue near the elbow. A healthy bursa allows smooth movement of soft tissue over bone. Inflammation in and around the elbow can make it painful to move the nearby joint.
Physicians treat elbow bursitis with a focus on reducing inflammation and pain. The first step is a physical exam to identify the reason for the elbow bursitis and stop the activity causing the pain. Rest and relaxation is key to heal elbow bursitis. Your orthopedic specialist may also recommend applying ice, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for inflammation and pain, and in some cases a corticosteroid. Treatment often includes physical therapy to return the elbow to full function.
An elbow fracture is a break in one or more of the bones making up the elbow joint. Symptoms of an elbow fracture can include severe pain, swelling, bruising, numbness in the fingers or hand, and decreased ability to move and use the arm.
Initial treatment for elbow fractures can include a cast or sling to support and protect the elbow while it heals. If the fracture has caused damage to the bone, the pieces will need to be put back in their proper place. This may require surgery. Prescription or over-the-counter medications may be given to help reduce inflammation and pain.
Recovery from an elbow fracture will require a period of rest to reduce elbow activity while the bones heal, often accompanied by ice and elevation to decrease swelling and discomfort. Once the elbow has healed, physical therapy and rehabilitation are often recommended to regain full strength and function of the elbow.
An elbow sprain is stretching or tearing of the ligaments stabilizing the elbow. Symptoms can include pain, swelling, limited ability to move the elbow and pain when moving the elbow.
Treatment strategies for elbow sprains will focus on reducing pain and discomfort in order to return you to daily activities as soon as possible. Initial care may involve rest and relaxation, avoiding certain activities which stress the elbow, ice to reduce swelling and discomfort, and over-the-counter or prescription medications to decrease pain.
Your orthopedic surgeon may also recommend extra support while the elbow heals. This can include wearing a brace or sling and rehabilitation exercises to build strength and movement in the elbow. In rare cases, surgery may be necessary to repair damage caused by elbow sprain.
Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
Symptoms of cubital tunnel syndrome can include numbness and weakness in the hand, particularly the pinky and ring fingers. Cubital tunnel syndrome an orthopedic condition of the elbow, is actually a set of symptoms caused by abnormal pressure on the ulnar nerve, an area on the inside of the elbow.
There are several risk factors for developing cubital tunnel syndrome, including:
- Stress on the elbow from long periods of time with the elbow in a bent position or with pressure on the elbow
- Injury or trauma to the elbow
- Inflammation, bleeding or fluid build-up near the elbow joint
In most cases, cubital tunnel syndrome will go away on its own when excess pressure on the elbow is removed. However, in some cases, long-term untreated cubital tunnel syndrome can lead to permanent muscle damage in the hand.
Your orthopedic surgeon, specializing in the elbow, should treat cubital tunnel syndrome with a comprehensive exam to identify the cause of stress to the ulnar nerve, followed by recommended lifestyle alterations, physical therapy, and over-the-counter medications for pain relief and muscle relaxation.
Elbow surgery may be required in more severe cases or if other treatment methods fail. The goal of elbow surgery is to relieve compression and restore the nerve function and muscle strength.
Elbow Injuries to the Youth
Little League Elbow
Little League elbow is a common condition for children and young athletes due to overuse associated with throwing. Little League elbow is the result of repetitive stress to the growth plate on the inside of the elbow. Elbow pain little athletes may experience include aching, sharp pain, and swelling on the inside of the elbow.
Treatment of Little League Elbow includes rest, ice or heat treatment, and anti-inflammatory medications to reduce swelling. In most cases, young athletes can return to the sport after physical therapy, rehabilitation and activity modifications to reduce the risk of further injury.
A pulled elbow occurs when one of the three bones of the elbow slips or is pulled out of place. This is a common elbow injury in young children and can be easily treated. Pulled elbows do not typically lead to long-term problems. Orthopedic physicians specializing in the elbow injuries and elbow injuries in the youth will be able to move the bone back into place.
For some children, the elbow pain will go away and movement will return once the bone is moved back in place. For other children, it may take longer for the pain to go away and the elbow to move normally again. In some cases, over-the-counter pain medication and a sling or brace may be recommended to reduce discomfort.
Do you have an elbow injury and need to make an appointment to see a specialists? Call us now: The Orthopedic Specialists at The Medical Center of Aurora 303-873-0630
Our Orthopedic Elbow Specialists
The best orthopedic surgeons in Denver can be found as part of a team of specialists at The Medical Center of Aurora. They work collaboratively to provide comprehensive medical care ensuring you have the best treatment and outcome potential. Surgeons, nurses and rehabilitation specialists work together to make sure your care plan is personalized for the best recovery and outcome.
The Medical Center of Aurora has state-of-the-art, newly renovated surgical suites offering the most advanced orthopedic surgical technology for elbow injury treatment and recovery. Our high quality care, low infection rate and high percentage of nurse certification means you get better care and faster recovery rates than at other hospitals or surgical centers in the area.
The Medical Center of Aurora takes part in the Own the Bone program, a comprehensive program dedicated to identifying and preventing osteoporosis and osteoporosis injuries. This is just one more way we are working to ensure the best possible treatment for all of our patients.