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Raymond Thal,MD - Sports Medicine & Arthroscopic Surgery
Dr. Thal has been practicing orthopaedics since 1990 and is Board Certified by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Elbow Sprains

Elbow Sprains are a common injury that occurs from over stretching or tearing the ligaments that support the elbow.

Causes

The elbow joint is supported and protected by ligaments that stretch to accommodate normal range of motion. When the elbow is twisted or turned beyond its normal range of motion, the ligament is also stretched beyond its normal capacity causing a sprain. If the sprain is severe enough, tearing of the ligament fibers can occur.

Elbow sprains can occur at any age and although commonly seen as a sports injury, elbow sprains can occur to non-athletes as well.

Risk Factors

The factors that increase the risk of elbow sprain include participation in sports activities, forceful twisting of the arm, falling on an outstretched arm, a blow or trauma to the elbow, previous history of elbow sprains, and lack of warm-up or stretching before exercise

Symptoms

Symptoms of an elbow sprain include pain, swelling, bruising, and impaired mobility.

Diagnosis

Your doctor will evaluate your condition by physical examination and medical history. Diagnostic tests such as X-ray and MRI scan may be required to confirm the condition and provide treatment.

Conservative Treatment Options

Immediately following an injury and before being evaluated by a medical doctor, you should initiate the R.I.C.E. method of treatment

  • Rest:  Rest the elbow as more damage could result from putting pressure on the injury.
  • Ice:  Ice packs applied to the injury will help diminish swelling and pain.  Ice should be applied over a towel to the affected area for 15-20 minutes four times a day for several days.  Never place ice directly over the skin.
  • Compression:  Wrapping the elbow with an elastic bandage or compression stocking can help to minimize the swelling and support your elbow.
  • Elevation:  Elevating the affected arm above heart level will also help with swelling and pain. 

Your doctor may prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce the pain and inflammation. Rehabilitation program is recommended for people injured by sports which help to regain strength and allow fast recovery. Rehabilitation program includes massages and various strengthening, stability, and stretching exercises which should be carried out on a regular basis.

Surgery

If the pain persists over a long time, then surgery may be needed to repair the torn ligaments. Elbow arthroscopy is a surgical procedure done to repair the torn ligament.

Other Elbow Conditions

  • American Academy of
Orthopaedic Surgeons
  • Arthroscopy Association of North America
  • International Society of Arthroscopy, Knee Surgery  and Orthopaedic Sports Medicine
  • Washington
Redskins
  • The American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
  • ISAKOS
  • CAQSM