Elbow Injuries Elbow Pain Information

Elbow Injuries Elbow Pain Information

Along with the shoulder, a properly functioning elbow is essential to effective use of the hands and arms. Elbow pain is a common complaint and can cause serious disruptions to sport-related activities, daily life, and work responsibilities.

 

 

 

Elbow Pain - Elbow Injuries

 

Anatomy Of The Elbow


The elbow joint is where the humerus (upper arm bone), ulna (large forearm bone), and radius (smaller forearm bone) meet. There are actually three portions of the elbow joint that work together to produce elbow movement:

1. Humeroulnar joint - the joint area formed between the ulna and humerus. This hinge joint allows the elbow to bend and straighten.

2. Humeroradial joint - the joint area formed between the radius and humerus. It is also a hinge joint that allows the elbow to bend and straighten.

3. Proximal radioulnar joint - the joint formed by the radius and ulna. This joint is a pivot joint that allows for supination (rotating the palm upward) and pronation (rotating the palm downward).

All three joints are encased by a common joint capsule and synovial membrane. Like all bones within a synovial joint, the three elbow bones are covered with smooth and slippery articular cartilage to help reduce friction as bone moves across bone within the joint.

Ligaments are soft tissue structures that connect bone to bone. These ligaments strengthen and stabilize the elbow joint. The most important ligaments in the elbow include the anterior ligament; posterior ligament; anterior band, posterior band and oblique band of the ulnar collateral ligament; anular ligament; and the radial collateral ligament. The two collateral ligaments are the main stabilizers of the elbow.

The strong muscles surrounding the elbow are the movement engines of the joint. The triceps extend the elbow, while the biceps, brachialis and brachioradialis muscles provide elbow flexion. The anconeus muscle, which is sometimes considered an extension of the triceps, is also responsible for forearm extension. The two muscles that are responsible for pronation of the forearm and hand are the pronator teres and the pronator quadratus. The supinator is responsible for supination of the forearm and hand. The extensor carpi radialis brevis is a commonly injured muscle. It runs from the lateral epicedial of the humerus to the third finger and functions to extend the wrist and elbow.

Tendons are soft tissue structures that connect muscle to bone. There are many tendons in the elbow. The most often injured are the biceps tendon and triceps tendon. The biceps tendon attaches the biceps muscles to the radius and allows the elbow to bend. The triceps tendon attaches the triceps to the ulna and allows the elbow to straighten.

Bursae are small fluid filled sacs that act as cushions between bones and soft tissues near joints. The olecran bursa is the most commonly injured elbow bursa. It is a superficial bursa that’s situated between the skin and the tip of the elbow (olecranon)

The radial, median, and ulnar nerve begin at the shoulder and pass through tunnels in the elbow on their way to the lower arm and hand.

How Is The Elbow Injured?

The elbow may be injured when an abnormal extension, flexion, or rotational force is applied to the elbow during a car accident, sport-related accident, worksite accident, or fall. Injury may also be due to misuse, overuse, or repetitive use of the elbow joint. Certain diseases and degenerative processes, such as infection and arthritis, may also weaken the structures within the elbow and leave them susceptible to injury.

What Are Some Common Elbow Injuries?

There are many elbow injuries that cause varying degrees of elbow pain. Some injuries are mild and only produce a dull ache or mild discomfort. Meanwhile, other elbow injuries can produce severe elbow pain that limits range of motion and overall function of the upper extremity. Here are some of the most common elbow injuries:

Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow, medically referred to as lateral epicondylitis, is a painful elbow condition that involves pain along the tendons and muscles on the outside area of the elbow. Tennis elbow is most often an overuse injury of the forearm muscles and common extensor tendon, but can be the result of a direct trauma over the lateral epicondyle area. The repetitive use mechanism of injury is frequently seen among tennis players due to the repetitive racket movements during play. The repetitive elbow motions result in wear and tear, degeneration, and eventually microscopic tearing of the extensor tendon and muscles.

Golfer’s Elbow

Golfer's elbow, also called medial epicondylitis, is a painful condition much like tennis elbow. The difference is that golfer’s elbow occurs along the inside of the elbow and involves the wrist flexor muscles and tendon.

Olecranon (Elbow) Bursitis

Elbow bursitis occurs with the bursa becomes inflamed due to irritation, prolonged pressure, trauma, or infection. In response, the injured bursa produces excess lubricating fluid and/or fills with blood from nearby injured capillaries. This causes the bursa to swell, become painful, and possibly restrict elbow range of motion.

Elbow Sprain

An elbow sprain is the abnormal stretching or tearing of one or more of the ligaments supporting the elbow. Sprains may be caused when the arm is forcefully twisted during an accident. Sprains also commonly occur after a direct blow to the elbow and falls with an outstretched arm. Sprains are graded based on the degree of injury to the ligament. In a grade one sprain, there is stretching or microscopic tearing of the ligament fibers, but the ligament maintains full function. A grade two sprain is moderate tearing of the ligament fibers that results in some loss of function. A grade three sprain is the most severe and disabling sprain and involves extensive to complete tearing of the ligament fibers. The joint will be highly unstable and the elbow may be immobile immediately after a grade three sprain.
 

Strengthening Exercises

These Elbow Exercises are ideal to build strength and flexibility.

Massage Treatment

These Elbow Massage Techniques are of great value in pain relief; circulation stimulation; dispersing blood and fluid accumulations; swelling reduction; and relaxing muscle spasms, especially when used alongside the Sinew Therapeutics liniments and soaks.

 

ACUTE STAGE SYMPTOMS AND TREATMENT

 

This stage is characterized by swelling, redness, pain, and possibly a local sensation of heat, indicating inflammation. If coolness makes your pain feel better, then the Acute Stage Treatment is recommended.

 

ACUTE STAGE SYMPTOMS:

 

The acute stage starts the moment an injury occurs and lasts until the swelling and inflammation are gone. The swelling is the result of the blockage of blood, tissue fluids and circulation in the elbow because their normal movement has been disrupted by the force of the injury. Just like cars back up behind a traffic jam, causing congestion, exhaust and overheating; blood and fluids back up behind the injured elbow, causing pain, inflammation, lumps and swelling.

The sensation of heat is due to the warming action of the blood and fluids overheating in the injured elbow as they back up and accumulate. Stiffness and decreased mobility are due to spasms in tendons and ligaments that have contracted reflexively beyond their normal range from the impact of the injury.

As ligaments and tendons stretch and tear, blood from ruptured blood vessels becomes trapped in the local tissues. As the trapped blood clots up, it sticks the tissues together creating adhesions. Adhesions cause pain, inflammation and restricted movement because the layers of tissue that used to slide smoothly across one another now adhere and snap which interferes with normal functioning. It is essential to break up clotted blood as quickly as possible to prevent adhesions and scar tissue from forming.

During the acute stage it is very important to restore normal circulation to the elbow, break up clotted blood and stagnant fluids, reduce swelling, and reduce the redness and heat associated with inflammation. By restoring the flow of blood, fluids, and circulation in the elbow, then pain is relieved, damaged tissues can regenerate with healthy functional tissue, and the elbow can strengthen and regain it's mobility.

 

ACUTE STAGE TREATMENT:

 

1. Apply the Sinew Herbal Ice on your elbow to reduce redness, swelling, and inflammation while dispersing accumulated blood and fluids to help restore normal circulation to the elbow. This first-aid treatment is used in place of ice to significantly speed up the healing process. It reduces the swelling and inflammation more effectively than ice, allowing you to more quickly regain range of motion. Acute Sinew Liniment can be used in-between applications.

Ice is not recommended because it does not help repair damaged tissues and keeps everything in the injured area frozen, causing the stagnation of blood and fluids and the contraction of muscles, tendons and ligaments. In Chinese sports medicine ice is not used and is considered a culprit in injuries that donít heal well.

2. Massage your elbow with Acute Sinew Liniment to relieve pain, reduce swelling and inflammation, break up clotted blood and stagnant fluids, and stimulate circulation of blood and fluids to help cells quickly repair damaged tissues. Sinew Herbal Ice can be used in-between applications.

3. The Sinew Sports Massage Oil is recommended for use before and after exercise, sports and strenuous activity. It warms and stimulates your muscles, increases circulation and relieves tightness, hence improving your performance and helping to prevent injury.

 

 

CHRONIC STAGE SYMPTOMS AND TREATMENT

 

This stage begins once the swelling and inflammation are gone, but you still feel pain, stiffness, weakness, and/or sensitivity in cold and damp weather. If heat makes your pain feel better, then the Chronic Stage Treatment is recommended.


CHRONIC STAGE SYMPTOMS:

 

The chronic stage begins once the swelling and inflammation are gone, but you still feel aching pain and stiffness. This is because there are still accumulations of stagnant blood and fluids in your elbow that are blocking circulation and blood supply to damaged tissues, creating residual pain, stiffness and weakness. You may actually feel hard nodules like sand in the tissue, indicating accumulation, calcification, and adhesions, which all cause pain, stiffness, and joint instability.

Your elbow may feel more sensitive to the cold and ache in cold and damp weather due to impaired circulation. When you move your elbow you may hear a clicking or popping sound from the tendons and ligaments slipping very slightly in and out of their natural alignment indicating weakness and joint instability, causing chronic pain and a cycle of reinjury. These symptoms are often the result of failure to treat the injury properly from the outset and overicing.

Increasing circulation and blood supply to the damaged tissues is very important in treating chronic injuries because tendons and ligaments do not have an extensive direct supply of blood. That is why chronic injuries can be slow to heal. Increasing local circulation also prevents cold and dampness from penetrating the injured area, preventing pain and stiffness.

During the chronic stage it is very important to break up remaining accumulations of blood and fluids, and increase circulation and blood supply to the damaged tissues. By increasing circulation and blood flow in the elbow, then pain and stiffness is relieved, and the tendons and ligaments can strengthen to restore stability.


CHRONIC STAGE TREATMENT:

 

1. Massage your elbow with Chronic Sinew Liniment to relieve pain and stiffness, strongly stimulate circulation and blood flow to damaged tissues, and promote the healing of overstretched tendons and ligaments. Sinew Injury Poultice can be used in-between applications.

2. Apply the Sinew Injury Poultice on your elbow to relieve residual pain and stiffness, significantly stimulate circulation and blood flow to damaged tissues, and further promote the healing of overstretched tendons and ligaments. The Sinew Injury Poultice is particularly useful if your elbow is more painful in cold and damp weather. Chronic Sinew Liniment can be used in-between applications.

3. The Sinew Sports Massage Oil is recommended for use before and after exercise, sports and strenuous activity. It warms and stimulates your muscles, increases circulation and relieves tightness, hence improving your performance and helping to prevent injury.