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If you suffer from elbow pain, don’t hesitate! Schedule an appointment with one of our orthopedic specialists today!

What is an Elbow Sprain?

Elbow sprains include a category of injuries to the ligaments around the elbow joint. Injuries usually occur when a patient bends or twists the arm quickly or forcibly. Common causes of elbow sprains include falls onto an outstretched hand, direct impact to the elbow, or twisting motions that put excessive stress on the ligaments. Sports activities, such as contact sports or those involving repetitive overhead movements, can also increase the risk of elbow sprains. Contrast with Elbow Overuse Injuries, occur over longer periods of time due to repeated strenuous use.

The ligaments in the elbow connect the upper arm bone and the pair of bones that make up the forearm (the radius and ulna).  All of which connect to the elbow joint. Pulled or torn ligaments can cause extreme pain that limits the ability to move the elbow.

Indication Of An Elbow Sprain

Symptoms of an elbow sprain include pain, swelling, tenderness, and limited range of motion. The joint may feel unstable or “loose,” and there may be difficulty in gripping or performing activities that involve bending or straightening the elbow. The severity of an elbow sprain can vary, ranging from mild stretching of the ligaments to partial or complete tears.

Elbow sprains can be categorized into different grades based on the severity of the injury:

  1. Grade 1 Sprain: In a mild sprain, the ligaments are stretched but not torn. There may be minimal swelling and tenderness, and the joint remains relatively stable.
  2. Grade 2 Sprain: A moderate sprain involves partial tearing of the ligaments. This can cause more significant pain, swelling, and tenderness. The joint may feel less stable and have some difficulty with movement.
  3. Grade 3 Sprain: A severe sprain involves a complete tear of the ligaments. This leads to intense pain, swelling, bruising, and significant instability of the joint. Range of motion is often severely limited.

Recovery and Rest

Recovery from an elbow sprain depends on the grade of the sprain and individual factors. Mild sprains may heal within a few weeks with proper rest and rehabilitation exercises. Moderate sprains may require several weeks to months of rehabilitation, including strengthening exercises, stretching, and gradually increasing functional activities. Severe sprains may require more extensive treatment, including immobilization, physical therapy, and possibly surgical intervention.

During the healing process, it’s important to avoid activities that may aggravate the injury and to follow the healthcare professional’s recommendations for pain management, such as medication or the use of ice and heat therapy.

Rehabilitation focuses on restoring strength, stability, and flexibility to the elbow joint. Physical therapy exercises may include gentle range-of-motion exercises, strengthening exercises for the surrounding muscles, and functional activities to improve coordination and joint control.

It’s essential to follow the recommended treatment plan, attend follow-up appointments, and communicate any concerns or changes in symptoms to your healthcare provider. With proper care, most individuals with an elbow sprain can recover and regain the full function of the joint over time.

If you would like to speak to one of our orthopedic upper extremity specialists, give us a call at 817-697-4038, or contact us over the web. Telemedicine appointments are also available.