Treating a Miracle of Engineering
The elbow is a miracle of engineering. It is both a hinge and ball joint allowing the arm to bend and your forearm to rotate. Three bones come together at the joint. The humerus (upper arm) and the radius and ulna (forearm) are all held together by a series of ligaments. Tendons join muscles together on the outside of the joint. A bursa sac also covers the outside of the elbow joint allowing skin to move smoothly across it.
Types of Elbow Injuries
The elbow is used extensively in sports, work, and virtually all everyday activities. Because of this extensive use, the elbow can sustain a great many injuries.
Common elbow-related sports injuries include:
- Tennis Elbow – painful inflammation of the tendons that join muscles
- Bursitis – inflammation and swelling of the bursa covering the joint
- Dislocated Elbow – painful separation of the joint surfaces
- Arthritis – damaged or worn cartilage from overuse or age
Symptoms of elbow injuries include a burning sensation, swelling, or weakness of the joint or grip, and can range from mild to severe. Diagnosing an elbow injury may involve a physical examination, a series of tests to assess range of motion, and diagnostic imaging to determine the extent of damage to the joint. Diagnosing the injury may take several visits and examinations.
Treatment options for elbow injuries have advanced significantly in recent years. Most patients can see significant improvement utilizing non-surgical methods. These forms of treatment may include rest, immobilization of the joint, utilizing ice or heat, anti-inflammatory medications, a joint brace, or physical therapy.
Minimally Invasive Surgery
If the injury is significant or is not improved through non-surgical methods, surgery may be required. If surgery is recommended, minimally invasive surgery is most often performed if possible.