Elbow joints allow us to bend, flex, reach, and rotate our arms. However, repetitive overhead movements that are common to some sports and jobs frequently overstress the elbow joints resulting in injury. When elbow conditions related to tendon tears, instability, fractures, arthritis and other conditions impede movement, both surgical and non-surgical treatments are considered to ease pain and help restore movement.
The elbow is an example of a hinge joint or a joint moving in one direction permitting only flexion and extension. The elbow joint is formed by 3 bones ¾ the humerus of the upper arm, and the bones of the forearm: the radius laterally and the ulna medially.
The joint is actually formed by the trochlea of the humerus articulating with the ulna and the capitulum of the humerus articulating with the head of the radius. Although there are two sets of articulations, there is only one joint capsule and a large bursa to lubricate the joint. An extensive network of ligaments helps the elbow joint maintain its stability.
The ligaments of the elbow joint include the ulnar collateral, and the radial collateral ligaments and the annular ligaments. Because so many muscles originate or insert near the elbow, it is a common site for injury.
One common injury is lateral epicondylitis or “tennis elbow”, which means inflammation surrounding the lateral epicondyle of the humerus. Six muscles that control backward movement (extension) of the hand and fingers originate on the lateral epicondyle.
At some time in life, you may experience elbow pain.
Injuries are the most common cause of elbow pain. Some people may not recall having had a specific injury, especially if symptoms began gradually or during everyday activities.
Elbow injuries occur most commonly during:
- Sports or recreational activities
- Work-related tasks
- Work or projects around the home
Older adults have a higher risk for injuries and fractures because they lose muscle mass and bone strength (osteoporosis) as they age. They also have more problems with vision and balance, which increase their risk for accidental injury. If you are looking for relief from arm pain, the experts at Wisconsin Bone & Joint are equipped to take care of any shoulder and elbow conditions.