There are a lot of reasons why elbow injuries happen, but the overlapping cause is usually repetitive strain or a fall. Mostly they are from athletic injuries or traumatic falls and sudden impact.
When we talk about repetitive strains we refer to the repeating activity that happens over and over again with no rest periods in between for the elbow to heal. These elbow joints and muscles in the meantime become aggravated and inflamed causing muscle weakness, swelling, and stiffness that worsen over time.
Elbow injuries are quite common with athletes and throwers, and also racquet sport players who use a lot of force and speed using their hands. Most cases of elbow injuries are solved with a round of physiotherapy for elbow pain and exercises and are mostly mild. Here are the main types of elbow injuries-
- Sports Injuries– Overuse injuries from sports is very common. The constant repetitive motion leads to the heavy strain of tendons and ligaments that is present on the inside and the outside of the bones. This is aggravated if you are carrying weighted equipment- like a racquet or a club. It can also happen if you are trying to exert a force to combat another force. The most common sports that cause these elbow injuries are-
- Martial arts
- Tennis or racquetball
- Weight lifting/resistance training
- Occupation Related– Sometimes our workplaces can put us at risk for developing an elbow injury. This happens again due to the repetitive motions of our elbows at work. This involves bending, straightening, moving, twisting, or squeezing the elbow and forearm in repetitive and forceful turns. You are most likely to injure your elbow if you are in the following work conditions-
- If you are involved in Industrial work, like automobile repair, home renovations, and building, or plumbing
- If you are at a desk job or find yourself in Office work like mousing (using a computer mouse) or typing
- Painting (house painting or making art)
- Restaurant work (cooking and prep, knife work, butchery)
- Overuse from hobbies and other activities.
Common house chores can also cause elbow injuries as they include repetitive hand motions. Some of these activities are-
- Cleaning and scrubbing the house.
- Knitting or sewing
- Playing an instrument
- Sudden Movement– If you are someone who lives a sedentary lifestyle and does not exercise frequently, any sudden movement or strain can lead to an injury. Since your muscles and tendons are not quite used to repetitive movement, a sudden tennis game out of the blue can cause swelling, stiffness, and pain.
- Tennis Elbow- A tennis elbow or a golfer’s elbow are injuries concerning the tendons. This usually happens due to overuse injuries. Tendons that connect the forearm muscles to the elbow muscles often get overstretched or overused due to occupation-related reasons or while playing a sport. Tennis elbow is known as lateral elbow pain and is not related to the sport that it is named after. It can happen to anyone if they make repeated arm motions that affect the tendons. Although, sportspersons like tennis players or golfers might get this disease as they constantly use the elbow muscle causing a repeated case of a tennis elbow. Almost all tennis players have had a case of tennis elbow in their career. This can also affect if you are between the ages of 30 to 50, as your joint health begins to deteriorate. Physiotherapy for elbow pain, supportive devices, compression equipment, and steroid injections are used to treat this. Certain targeted exercises and muscle strengthening can help prevent this in the long term. If you are affected by tennis elbow, then the most common symptom that you may be facing is pain on the upper bend of your arm, below the elbow. In some cases, the pain also trickles down to your wrist and fingers.
- Bursitis– This is a common consequence of wear and tear injury. So if you are involved in an occupation or sport that requires repetitive motion of your elbows, then you are susceptible to this disease. Just like your cartilage, there is another protective mechanism in your bones, muscles, and tendons. Bursa are tiny fluid-filled sacs that help cushion the movements of your bones and joints. They prevent friction and let skin easily slide over the bone. When these get affected, they swell up and cause pain.
- Inner Elbow Pain– Also known as Flexor Tendonitis, this is the pain felt when you throw something as the inner flexor tendons have become inflamed.
- UCL– The Ulnar Collateral Injury is an inner elbow injury that also affects throwers. It can range from a minor tear and swelling to a painful ligament tear. A visibly reduced throwing power and speed come with this injury.
- VEO- Also known as Valgus Extension Overload this is another thrower injury that happens when there is a bony prominence of the elbow that rubs against the upper arm. This usually happens when your arm is twisted during a throw. This injury can cause the cartilage to get affected and facilitate abnormal bone growth or spurs. These spurs at the elbow joint can cause swelling and pain.
- Fractures– More specifically, the Olecranon Stress Fracture happens when the muscles weaken because of overuse leading to tiny cracks. This again happens to great throwers who experience these tiny tracks near the pointed bony tip of their elbows.
- Nerve Issues– Medically known as Ulnar Neuritis, this is present near the upper part of the arm bone. This takes place when this bone is overstretched and slides out of space as it may break and become irritated. It is quite common with throwers and it feels like an electric shock in the elbow and forearm. It is followed by tingling, numbing, and pain in the fingers.
Also Read: What Exercises Are Good for Elbow Pain
For more information about elbow pain and physiotherapy for elbow pain, head on to Phyt Health, India’s first digital physiotherapy platform offering online physiotherapy services and consultations. With a wealth of elbow exercises present on their website, you can include them in your daily life depending on your comfort level. All these exercises are curated by expert physiotherapists at Phyt Health. You can also book your online video consultation on the app, to discuss any issues you might be facing and begin your journey towards recovery!