diagram of common injuries and treatments

Elbow Pain

The elbow, although not noticeable in terms of function at first glance, is a very important part as it is the link between the shoulder and the hand. In fact its close link to the shoulder can actually be the cause of some injuries if the shoulder is not functioning well.

Assessment

It is important to assess the range of movement in all directions as a stiff elbow will mean the hand cannot function optimally to do most tasks. Strength is also very important. Elbow pain or injury can also be due to deficits in the shoulder or hand so a physiotherapist will also assess this.

If pain is caused by tennis or golfers elbow, it could be due to poor equipment, technique or repetitive stresses, therefore it is important to address these factors during assessment.

Treatment

  • Soft tissue therapy to loosen any tight structures
  • Mobilisations to regain the joint range of movement
  • Electrotherapy to reduce stiffness, ease pain and improve the elasticity of any tight structures
  • Program for stretches and strengthening in the upper limb
  • Pilates can help to improve elbow function and enhance whole body stability.

Common injuries of the elbow

  • Tennis elbow - pain experienced on the outer aspect of the elbow after repetitive movements of extending the arm.
  • Golfer’s elbow - pain experienced on the inner aspect of the elbow after repetitive movements of extending the arm.
  • Osteoarthritis of the elbow - pain and swelling associated with loss of range of movement at the elbow joint.
  • Elbow fracture - a break in one of the bones forming the elbow joint.

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