Elbow injuries can be distressing because you may lose use of your hand during recovery, too. Overuse injuries generally respond well to rest and home care. Traumatic elbow injuries, however, vary substantially in severity. This could be due to playing sports, falling, or being in an auto accident.
Knowing how to handle an elbow injury and pain between the time of the incident and when you receive medical care can make a difference to your comfort, and it can help you avoid further damage as you await treatment.
Southern Westchester Orthopedics & Sports Medicine is your destination for orthopedic care in Yonkers, Bronx, and Mamaroneck, New York. Dr. David Lent and Dr. Eric Spencer are ready to help you with diagnosis, treatment, and recovery from your elbow injury.
Overuse injuries of the elbow
Overuse injuries happen over time and with repeated motions. Tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow are two such issues, generated by the constant repetition of elbow movement consistent with these sports. Other problems from overuse include bursitis and tendinitis.
These injuries create discomfort and pain, and while they can limit your mobility, you usually retain use of your arm and hand. Resting, icing, and taking over-the-counter pain and anti-inflammatory medications typically help you recover. Call us to schedule an exam if symptoms don’t improve or get worse.
Traumatic elbow injuries
Most often caused by sudden impact, traumatic or acute injuries are usually more serious. You can expect to deal with pain and mobility issues; in most cases, medical attention is necessary to determine the extent of injury and to develop a treatment plan.
Common traumatic elbow injuries include:
- Fracture in one or more of the three bones that form the elbow
- Sprains, which typically affect the median collateral ligament (MCL)
- Hyperextension, a forceful bend in a wrong direction, causing structural issues
- Dislocation, where bones of the joint are forced out of alignment
- Nerve compression, usually to the ulnar nerve
Traumatic injuries usually cause sudden and intense pain. The area around your elbow may show signs of swelling and inflammation, and your range of motion becomes limited. The skin around your elbow can become bruised and discolored.
Caring for a traumatic injury
The most important care point for an elbow injury ahead of a medical exam is to protect your elbow and arm from further damage. Immobilize your arm in as comfortable a position as possible against your body, and support it with a sling or tape.
Once you’ve protected your arm, rest while you await medical care. Ice packs help with pain and inflammation. Restrict icing sessions to no more than 20 minutes at a time, several times per day.
If you can tolerate wrapping the elbow in a compression bandage, this also helps control swelling, but skip this step if it increases your pain.
Likewise, elevating the injury above the level of your heart promotes fluid drainage, but the injury may make this difficult unless you can lie on your back with your arm secure on your abdomen. Avoid aggravating the injury, and see a doctor for an examination as soon as possible.
Contact the closest location of Southern Westchester Orthopedics & Sports Medicine to schedule your elbow exam. You can reach your office of choice by phone or online from the “Request Appointment” link at the top of this page. Book now to assure prompt attention.