How Do I Know if My Elbow Injury is Serious
An elbow injury can be caused by many different things. It’s important to know what an elbow injury is, how you can recognize it, and when you should see a doctor for care.
An elbow injury is an injury to your elbow joint. Your elbow joint is located between your upper arm and forearm and is a hinge joint that allows you to move your arm in all directions. When you have an elbow injury, it’s important to know the warning signs so you can catch it early and ensure that you’re healing as well as possible. In this article, we will cover the causes of elbow injuries, common elbow injuries, and symptoms to look out for that indicate your elbow injury may be serious and require medical attention.
What are the Causes of Elbow Injury?
There are several causes of elbow injuries, including overuse, trauma, and underlying medical conditions. Overuse injuries occur when the elbow is repeatedly stressed, leading to inflammation and damage to the tendons and ligaments. Traumatic injuries can be caused by a fall or a direct blow to the elbow.
Underlying medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis can also lead to elbow injuries. Certain sports and activities, such as tennis and weightlifting, also increase the risk of elbow injuries.
Common Types of Elbow Injuries
Injuries to the elbow are relatively commonplace. The most common types of elbow injuries are as follows:
- Tennis elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis): Inflammation of the tendons that attach to the lateral epicondyle, a bony prominence on the outer side of the elbow.
- Golfer’s elbow (Medial Epicondylitis): Inflammation of the tendons that attach to the medial epicondyle, a bony prominence on the inner side of the elbow.
- Fractures: Elbow fractures can occur in any of the three bones that make up the elbow joint: the humerus, ulna, and radius.
- Dislocations: The elbow joint can become dislocated if the bones that make it up move out of position.
- Sprains: A sprain is an injury to a ligament, which is the tissue that connects bones to one another. Elbow sprains can occur if the ligaments around the joint are stretched or torn.
- Bursitis: Inflammation of a bursa, a small fluid-filled sac that provides cushioning and lubrication for the joint.
- Osteoarthritis: This is a degenerative joint condition that can affect the elbow joint (among other joints), causing pain and stiffness.
When to Contact a Doctor for an Elbow Injury
It is important to be cognizant of the symptoms you are experiencing with your elbow injury, as some are a sign that the injury may be more severe and require medical intervention.
You should see a doctor for an elbow injury if you experience severe pain, swelling, or difficulty moving your elbow. Additionally, if you hear a popping sound at the time of the injury, or if your elbow appears deformed, has a lump, or has severe swelling and bruising, then you should seek medical attention. It is also a good idea to see a doctor if your symptoms do not improve after a few days of rest and self-care, such as applying ice.
Experiencing difficulty when moving is also a sure sign that your elbow injury needs medical attention. If your range of movement has been limited due to your injury, it is a good idea to seek the help of a doctor. In addition, if you experience pain or any difficulty with movements such as lifting, gripping, and grasping, then it is best to have your elbow injury evaluated by a medical professional. OPA Ortho can assist you with getting an appointment with an orthopedic professional to ensure that your injury is seen to without delay, and you can heal in the shortest amount of time.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) – Elbow Injuries
How Long can an Elbow Injury Take to Heal?
The length of time it takes for an elbow injury to heal can vary depending on the severity of the injury. A minor sprain or strain may take a few weeks to heal, while a more severe injury, such as a dislocated elbow, may take several months to heal fully.
In some cases, an elbow injury may require surgery, which can extend the healing time significantly. It’s always best to consult with a doctor or physical therapist to get a more accurate estimate of the healing time for your specific injury.
What is the Most Common Elbow Injury?
The most common elbow injury is called “tennis elbow,” and it happens when you use your arm too much in certain ways, like gripping a tennis racket. This causes pain in the outer part of your elbow.
Other common elbow injuries include “golfer’s elbow”, which is pain on the inner part of your elbow, swelling of the bursa (a small fluid-filled sac) at the back of your elbow, and pain and inflammation in the tendon that connects to the muscle on the back of your arm (your triceps).
Can an Elbow Injury Heal on its Own?
Some elbow injuries may heal on their own with time and proper self-care, such as rest, ice, and over-the-counter pain medication. However, more severe or chronic injuries may require professional treatment and rehabilitation to heal fully.
It’s also important to address the underlying cause of the injury to prevent re-injury. If you experience persistent pain or limitations in your elbow, it’s best to consult a healthcare professional for an evaluation and appropriate treatment. This is where OPA Ortho can help in getting you an appointment with an orthopedic specialist so that your injury can be attended to timeously.
How OPA Ortho can help
OPA Ortho, as an Orthopedic and Rehabilitation Services provider, offers a wide range of services that can help you with an elbow injury. Depending on the nature of your injury, at OPA Ortho, we can assist with resources, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and other specialized care tailored to your needs and modified to suit your particular circumstances.
Contact us today for an appointment.