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Elbow Injuries: Elbow Sprain Symptoms and Treatment

by / Saturday, 04 February 2012 / Published in Elbow Injury, Injury
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Elbow Injuries: Elbow Sprain

What is an elbow sprain?

A single violent overstretching of one or more ligaments in the elbow joint. Elbow sprains are a relatively uncommon elbow injury. Sprains involving two or more ligaments cause considerably more disability than single-ligament sprains. When the ligament is overstretched, it becomes tense and gives way at its weakest point, either where it attaches to bone or within the ligament itself. If the ligament pulls loose a fragment of bone, it is called an avulsion fracture.

How do you prevent elbow sprains?

Elbow sprains can be reduced with a long-term strengthening and conditioning appropriate for your sport or athletic activity. A proper warm up before practice or competition. Tape or use elastic wraps or braces on vulnerable joints.

What types of elbow injuries are there?

Elbow sprains are of three types;

  1. A mild or (grade I) strain, which is tearing of some ligament fibers There is no loss of function.
  2. A moderate or (grade II) sprain, which is rupture of a portion of the ligament, resulting in some loss of function.
  3. A severe or (grade III sprain), which is a complete rupture of the ligament or complete separation of the ligament from the bone. There is total loss of function. A severe sprain may require surgical repair, especially in a throwing athlete.

What musculature is involved in a elbow sprain?

The specific body parts involved are the ligaments of the elbow joint and also soft tissues surrounding the sprain, including nerves, periosteum (covering of bone), blood vessels and muscle.

How do I know if I’ve sprained my elbow?

The signs and symptoms of a elbow sprain are:

  1. Severe pain at the time of injury
  2. A feeling of popping or tearing inside the elbow
  3. Tenderness at the injury site
  4. Swelling around the elbow
  5. Bruising that appears soon after the injury.

Am I at risk for an elbow sprain?

The risk of sustaining an elbow sprain increases with contact sports such as football, basketball, hockey and soccer. Throwing sports such as baseball or javelin throwing also increase the risk. A previous elbow injury can also increase the risk. Obesity or poor muscle conditioning also increase the risk.

What is the proper care for a elbow sprain?

The appropriate health care for an elbow sprain is a doctor’s diagnosis, application of a cast, tape or an elastic bandage or sling. Your own self-care during rehabilitation, proper physical therapy (for moderate or severe sprain), or surgery are all appropriate for a severe sprain. The condition is most commonly diagnosed through your own observation of symptoms, your medical history and exam by a doctor and x-rays of the elbow, wrist and shoulder to rule out fractures. An MRI(Magnetic Resonance Imaging) is appropriate to define a severe sprain(especially in throwing athletes).

Are there any complications with elbow sprains?

Some possible complications can be (1) prolonged healing time if usual activity is resumed too soon, (2) proneness to repeated injury, (3) Inflammation at the ligament attachment to bone, (periostitis); (4) sometimes, prolonged disability. (5) Unstable or arthritic elbow following repeated injury.

How long does a elbow sprain take to heal?

The average healing times are: (1) mild sprains – 2 to 6 weeks, (2) moderate sprain – 6 to 8 weeks, (3) severe sprains — 8 weeks to 10 months. The complications listed above are more likely to occur in the case of repeated injuries.

What treatment should I use for a elbow sprain?

Treatment should consist of following your doctor’s instructions. Some supplemental first aids are the “R.I.C.E.” instructions: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation (if possible). If the doctor does not apply a cast, tape or elastic bandage then it is helpful, as continuing care, to use an ice pack 3 or 4 times a day for 20 minutes at a time. Place ice chips or cubes in a plastic bag. Wrap the bag in a moist towel, and place it over the injured knee. After the first 72 hours, apply heat instead of ice if it feels better. Use heat lamps, hot soaks, showers, heating pads or heat liniments and ointments. Take whirlpool treatments, if available. Massage gently and often to provide comfort and decrease swelling.

What medications, if any, are recommended?

Medication for minor discomfort can be nonprescription medicines such as aspirin, acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Topical liniments and ointments can be used. Your doctor may prescribe stronger pain relievers or even an injection of a long-acting local anesthetic to reduce pain. Injections of a corticosteroid, such as triamcinolone, to reduce inflammation(rarely) or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications.

What activity is proper during rehabilitation and recovery?

You can begin daily rehabilitation exercises when the cast or supportive wrapping is no longer needed and with the blessing of your doctor. Use ice massage for 10 minutes before and after exercise. Fill a large styrofoam cup with water and freeze. Tear a small amount of the foam from the top so the ice protrudes. Massage firmly over the injured area in a circle about the size of a softball.

Call your Doctor if:

Be certain to call your doctor if you have symptoms of a moderate or severe elbow sprain or a mild sprain persist longer than 2 weeks. Call your doctor if pain or swelling worsens despite treatment or if either of the following occurs with casting or splinting, tight bracing or taping: Pain, numbness or coldness below the injury, dusky, blue or grey toenails. Call your doctor if any of the following occurs after surgery: Increased pain, swelling, redness, drainage or bleeding in the surgical area. Call your doctor if you notice any signs of infection (headache, muscle aches, dizziness or a general ill feeling with fever)or if any new, unexplained symptoms develop. Drugs used in treatment may produce side effects.

How does the Bodyguard™ elbow brace reduce elbow sprains?

The Bodyguard™ Compression Elbow Brace is designed to add comfort, stability and performance enhancement to the elbow suffering from tendonitis, as well as the strained, sprained or bruised elbow.

For chronic and recurring tendonitis sufferers, it reduces the incidence of pain and swelling occasioned by use, while adding stability and performance enhancement.

As with all Bodyguard™ products, it provides compression, support, muscle and tendon heat circulation, strain distribution and impact absorption.

2 Responses to “Elbow Injuries: Elbow Sprain Symptoms and Treatment”

  1. Lizbeth says : Reply

    Idk if I broke my elbow because I can’t not feel thing and I can move my arm and I do have a pain

    • Phil Gilliam says : Reply

      I would suggest you contact your doctor immediately to get the condition of the connective tissue in the elbow before you think about buying any brace.

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