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What are the Most Common Types of Elbow Injury?

By Vanessa Harvey
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The elbow is an important joint that allows for range of motion and mobility in the arm. There are various types of elbow injury, but the most common ones include dislocation, fracture, and a condition known as bicep tendon rupture. Tennis elbow, golfers elbow, and elbow hypertension injury are other common types of elbow problems. A dislocation usually results from falling on the arm while the elbow is fully extended or outstretched. Participation in full-contact sports, such as wrestling and soccer, or falling from heights can easily lead to such injuries of the elbow.

Dislocation tends to cause acute pain in the area of the elbow joint. The pain can be severe enough to require sedation of the patient or require a patient to follow a pain-management program. It may also lead to loss in range of motion and mobility. An elbow fracture is another common, but serious, injury that may necessitate surgery to reduce the risk of long-term problems such as a loss of motion. Fractures, caused by falling on an extended or outstretched arm, may also involve severely damaged nerves and blood vessels that mandate surgical repair.

Bicep tendon ruptures are on the list of common elbow injuries that can cause acute pain in the joint area. Repetitive lifting is one activity that may lead to this problem, which is primarily seen in mature athletes. Due to the fact that surgery tends to be the only remedy for re-attaching the tendons, many older athletes elect to not have their elbow repaired. Elbow hypertension injury is an elbow sprain caused by bending the joint back the wrong way. Pain, stiffness, and swelling may develop shortly after the occurrence.

Depending on the severity of the elbow injury, some home remedies may prove effective. Many patients have experienced relief by applying ice packs over the affected joint for approximately 15 minutes every two hours. This is an all-natural treatment that has been suggested for tennis elbow. Alternatively, the application of heat may alleviate the discomfort. Some sufferers find that alternating between heat and ice brings the greatest relief.

Fortunately, the most common types of injury to the elbow may be prevented by following simple advice. Regular exercise and avoiding repetitive movements, whenever possible, help to guard against developing problems of the joints. There are even some foods that may be of benefit, such as those rich in omega-3 fatty acids that discourage inflammation.

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Discussion Comments
By SZapper — On Sep 03, 2011

@strawCake - Wow, aerial acrobatics. That sounds impressive. I know you can develop repetitive motion injuries from other, less cool, activities too. I actually had a repetitive motion injury in my wrist from knitting!

I know a lot of people seek out home remedies for elbow injuries, but I think I would prefer to go see a doctor. That's what I did for my wrist. I just never feel comfortable diagnosing myself! I know ice and anti-inflammatory meds can take you pretty far, but I think the best thing to do is just go see a doctor!

By strawCake — On Sep 03, 2011

I do aerial acrobatics, which is a lot of fun. It also involves lifting yourself up by your arms a lot, which isn't a motion most people do on a day to day basis. I developed a repetitive motion injury in my shoulder, which extended all the way to my elbow!

When I went to my chiropractor complaining of shoulder and arm/elbow pain, she told me that most of the problem was coming from my shoulder. The funny thing is, my elbow actually hurt a lot more than my shoulder did!

Anyway, after a few months of regular visits I felt a lot better and I was able to resume normal activities. I had to take some time off from aerials though, and that was no fun!

By lovealot — On Sep 02, 2011

Clumsy me fell down the stairs and fractured my elbow. Boy did it swell. When I got to the doctor, my elbow and arm were huge with swelling. I had to have surgery right away and was put in a cast.

After it healed, I noticed my elbow protruded when I extended my arm. I went to therapy and did exercises for a long time.

Today, it is weak and I can't extend my arm at the elbow. What I learned - if you fall, try not to extend your arms out to catch yourself.

By live2shop — On Sep 02, 2011

When I was younger, I had a tennis elbow injury. It kind of snuck up on me. I realize now that I was born with overextended joints, so every time I hit a backhand, my elbow would bend back too far. I should have been using a two-handed backhand.

I tried treating it with ice and resting it. Then when it felt better, I'd go back to playing tennis - mistake! It just got worse and became very painful. I tried wearing a sleeve brace. The doctor gave me cortisone shots, which helped, but my days of playing tennis were over.

By cloudel — On Sep 01, 2011

@Perdido - My dad got golfer’s elbow, and he said that he felt tingling in his forearm that went all the way to his pinky and ring fingers. This kind of injury hurts on the inside of the elbow and goes up the inner forearm.

His elbow felt stiff, and he said it hurt when he tried to make a fist. His hand and wrist were weak, and it also hurt to flex his wrist downward and to pick up anything with his palm facing down.

He started taking naproxen for the inflammation. He applied ice wrapped in a thin towel for fifteen minutes four times daily. While he held it on there, he massaged the area with the ice.

By Perdido — On Sep 01, 2011

No matter how lightly you bump your funny bone, it always hurts. It doesn’t cause serious injury, but you feel a weird, intense pain and tingling vibrations throughout your forearm for several minutes. I even feel numbness in my ring finger and pinky when I hit mine.

Though it feels serious at the time, it only leaves a bruise, and that’s only if you hit it fairly hard. I have never really injured my elbow, but I wonder if the pain from a severe injury would be accompanied by the strange tingling that bumping it causes.

By seag47 — On Aug 31, 2011

My friend and I went to a tennis court to play just for fun. Neither of us knew a thing about proper technique, and we both wound up with tennis elbow.

It hurt the most around the joint, but our pain spread into our forearms and our wrists. We had trouble holding our glasses of water at lunch, and I could barely turn a doorknob.

My injury got better after I put ice on it and took ibuprofen for a couple of days. My friend wound up going to a doctor. He told her that she had tiny tears in her tendons, and he made her wear a forearm brace to avoid stressing the tendons further.

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