Understanding Elbow Injuries

The elbow is a complex joint that allows a wide range of movements with the arm and hands. From everyday activities to sports, using the elbow is unavoidable. However, continuously depending on the joint can open the door to various injuries. A common elbow condition is tennis elbow, which is inflammation of the tendon sheaths. In severe cases, surgical intervention may be necessary. These 3 activities increase the risk of developing elbow injuries.

mackinaw surgery center 3 Activities That Increase The Risk Of Elbow Injuries Arthroscopic Surgery For Tennis Elbow.jpg

1. Throwing, swinging, and racket sports

Elbow injuries are notably higher among people involved in sports requiring repetitive arm movements, such as baseball, football, golf, and tennis. These sports require the elbow to extend repeatedly to generate the force to hit or throw a ball. Tennis elbow is the most common of injuries. Athletes can sometimes develop a partial or complete rupture of the tendons. These sports require consistent rest and icing of the elbow to limit injuries.

2. Occupational risks

Industrial workers, especially those working in manufacturing and construction jobs, are also at an increased risk of developing elbow injuries. The injury is typically caused by repetitive motions that involve heavy lifting, gripping, pushing, and pulling. Workers can also develop arthritis due to repeated use of arms for long periods. Tennis elbow can affect mobility and limit the ability to carry out the job effectively.

3. Household chores and home improvement

Is an elbow injury possible at home? Working around the house and doing other manual tasks can also lead to the development of elbow injuries like tennis elbow. For instance, people who do a lot of gardening or other yard work can develop joint pain. Excess bending, kneeling, and stretching can damage the joint. Even repetitive household tasks such as washing dishes, cleaning floors, and ironing can cause strain on the joints. Rest can help reduce pain and inflammation.

Treatment options for elbow injuries

For strains or sprains, non-surgical treatment is usually sufficient to relieve the symptoms and heal the injury. A doctor may recommend rest, ice, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to lessen inflammation. Conditions like tennis elbow can also benefit from physical therapy (PT) to reduce pain and restore strength. If the damage is severe or the injury does not improve with conservative treatment, the doctor may recommend arthroscopic surgery.

Is surgery necessary?

Some cases of tennis elbow can benefit from arthroscopic surgery, especially athletes who want to return to the sport as soon as possible. This minimally-invasive procedure involves making small incisions in the affected joint to allow for the insertion of miniature surgical instruments. The surgeon will use these tools to repair torn or damaged cartilage and remove loose bodies from the joint. Since the incisions are smaller, the patient recovers faster, and the risk of infection is minimized.

Know your risks

Constant repetitive use or actions that require explosive power put a person at risk of developing elbow injuries. This is especially true for athletes or people who operate heavy machinery. If there are signs of pain, stiffness, and discomfort, seek help from a healthcare provider. Early treatment can reduce pain and help prevent further damage to the elbow.