The elbow joint works similarly to the knee, as it is a hinge joint that bends and pivots – allowing the limb to twist and rotate from the center. The elbow is a junction of three bones: the humerus, the radius, and the ulna – plus several muscles, ligaments, and tendons.
Tremendous force is placed on the elbow when playing certain sports, such as when throwing a baseball or hitting a tennis ball. This is the underlying cause of many common elbow injuries like tendonitis, golfer’s elbow, tennis elbow, and pitcher’s elbow.
What Is Wrong With My Elbow?
Repetitive motions of the elbow joint can cause irritation and inflammation of the flexor tendons, which attach the humerus to the inner elbow. Some of the most frequent elbow injuries include the following:
Lateral Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow)
This is an overuse-type injury that makes up nearly half of all elbow-related injuries. It actually affects many more people due to activities other than tennis.
Tennis elbow is an injury of the tendons that attach the muscle of the forearm to the bony bump outside the elbow. It causes pain and weakness of the arm and wrist, affecting athletic performance and everyday activities like shaking hands or turning a doorknob.
This is marked by pain when trying to bend the wrist backward and spreading the fingers.
Medial Epicondylitis (Golfer’s Elbow)
This is a similar injury to tennis elbow, but it affects the inside of the elbow instead. It is also an overuse type of injury, and it affects the muscles and tendons that control the wrist and fingers.
Any exercise where the forearm is flexed and the wrist is bent downward can contribute to the development of golfer’s elbow. Repeated stress on the elbow while clenching the wrist and fingers stresses the tendons that attach to the inner portion of the elbow, resulting in pain.
This condition affects the muscles and tendons that are used to bend the wrist downward and to squeeze or grip something.
Medial Apophysitis (Little League Elbow)
This commonly affects younger athletes whose bones and structures in the elbow have not yet finished developing. It is the repeated stress on the immature elbow joint that leads to the development of little league elbow.
It also is an overuse-type injury, and it causes pain, stiffness, and swelling on the underside of the elbow. Improper form, frequent pitching, and throwing special pitches (like a curve ball) can dramatically hasten the development of this condition.
This injury causes pain, swelling, and stiffness. In severe cases, it can cause the growth plate to break away from the arm.
Ulnar Nerve Entrapment (Bicycler’s Neuropathy)
When the elbow is bent, the ulnar nerve stretches around the olecranon – that large bump at the outer edge of the elbow. Over time, the nerve can become stretched out and slip out of place, which can cause a snap.
People with this condition report pain symptoms like an electric shock from the funny bone. This also affects the two smaller fingers on the affected arm, resulting in tingling and numbness during the activity and anytime the elbow is bent – even at rest or while asleep.
Orthopedic Surgeons in Maryland
If you have elbow pain, an orthopedic specialist will be able to diagnose the problem rather quickly.
Contact us at The Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics today by calling (410) 644-1880, or schedule an appointment online. We will determine your condition and recommend ways to combat it, so you can get back to the active lifestyle you enjoy.