Acute elbow injuries is a spectrum of bone damages that occur suddenly within the time frame of the event. Ranging from fractures to acute elbow sprains and torn ligaments that immediate intervention of an orthopedic elbow specialist, today we will be discussing the most common causes of acute onset elbow pain in children, adults and athletes.
An elbow fracture is defined as a break between the bones that form the elbow joint. A fracture can take place in either the humerus (the forearm bone) or the radius and ulna (the two bones that form the arm). They usually happen as a result of high impact or a hard fall on the outstretched hand. These fractures require urgent medical care as the elbow joint hosts a lot of important neurovascular bundles that may cause permanent disability. Here are some of the common examples:
Radial Head Fracture
A radial head fracture results after an injury to the head of the radius bone after a fall on an outstretched hand. The breakage is just below the elbow joint, and symptoms that occur are excruciating pain at the time of an injury and sudden Pain when the person attempts to bend or move the affected part. These fractures are usually not dislocated so the overall outcome is favorable.
The olecranon is a large prominence of the ulnar bone at the back of the elbow. Fractures in this area usually result due to a fall on the bent elbow. In most cases the only symptoms are a sense of dull pain at the time of the insult and inability of the person to straighten the elbow. Rapid swelling and tenderness can ensue within minutes of injury so medical assistance is advised.
The condyles are the two upper most prominences on the humerus bone. The condylar fracture is a break between these two parts. The outer (lateral) condyle is more prone to injury as opposed to medial (inner) one. Symptoms include a crunching or rustling sound when the person attempts to move the elbow. After a few x-rays, if you’re lucky to have an undisplaced fracture, simple immobilization or cast or splint can do the trick. For displaced parts, surgery is usually indicated.
The Capitellum Fracture
A capitellum fracture usually involves breakage of the small part of bone that articulates with the radius at the elbow joint. Fractures to this area usually occur as a result of a fall on an outstretched hand. The patient usually presents with typical symptoms of pain and swelling at the site of an injury. 90% fractures will result in displacement hence surgical fixation is advised.
A dislocated elbow is the second most common joint injury just behind shoulder dislocation. Thankfully this joint is very resilient to injury and rare dislocation will occur due to severe trauma or falls. Symptoms such as pain, swelling, bruising on the inside and outside of the elbow are common. These types of dislocations are acute medical emergencies and need the attention of orthopedic doctors.
Elbow Ligament Sprains
A SPRAIN is defined as a stretching or rupture of the ligaments of the joint. Ligaments form the basic structure of the joints and help provide added durability and strength.
Elbow Hyperextension Injury
Elbow hyperextension injuries occur as a result of stretching of the elbow joint in the backward direction. These injuries occur as a result of sports injuries such as rugby and martial arts. The patient will feel pain when they attempt to straighten the joint. A round of icing, taping and compression can reduce the symptoms remarkably.
A bruised elbow or contusion is a common cause of elbow joint pain. An elbow contusion results due to an injury on an outstretched hand or a fall on the direct. The elbow mostly looks swollen and bruised on its outer appearance. Usually this condition can be treated with ice packs and compressions. What’s more evident of serious damage is a sudden perception of needles and tingles on the affected area most probably due to ulnar nerve damage. We recommend monitoring your symptoms and getting an x-ray done ASAP.
Here you go folks, a comprehensive guide on elbow injuries and acute onset elbow pain. You know you need to consult with an elbow injury doctor McLean if you experience any of above.