Dr James Mclean - Orthopaedic Surgeon
Dr James Mclean - Orthopaedic Surgeon
Dr James Mclean - Orthopaedic Surgeon

Sports Elbow Injuries

Do you play a racquet sport or golf? Are you involved in weightlifting, throwing, swimming or bodybuilding? Do you suffer from elbow pain during your sports activities or in everyday life?
If the answer is yes, you could have a sports injury of the elbow.

Sports Injuries of the Elbow Explained

In simple terms, overuse causes sports injuries of the elbow. Repetitive extension, strong biceps contractions or twisting and extending the wrist can cause injuries.

Some sports injuries of the elbow affect the extensor tendon on the outside of the elbow. Others affect the tendon on the inside of the elbow. In the case of posterior impingement, the cartilage and bone in the elbow become inflamed. Sometimes pieces of cartilage break loose and float in the joint, causing inflammation and pain.

Do You Have These Symptoms?

Sports injuries of the elbow are usually painful and have some distinctive symptoms. If you recognise any of these, it’s important to seek treatment. Early intervention can save you from permanent damage.

  • Tenderness and pain when applying pressure to the outside of your elbow.
  • Pain when lifting a heavy object.
  • Pain when shaking hands or clenching your fist.
  • Sharp pains that radiate from your elbow down to your hand, or up your arm.
  • Weakness in your elbow and forearm.
  • Clicking or locking of your elbow (may be painful).
  • Pain or weakness when trying to grip objects.
  • Aching elbow when you’re resting or sleeping.
  • Pain when stretching out your fingers.

Common Elbow Conditions Caused By Playing Sport

Tennis Elbow:

A repetitive extending and twisting motion causes the extensor tendon on the outside of the elbow to become inflamed. Sometimes other conditions have similar symptoms and only an experienced doctor is able to diagnose the condition.

Golfer’s Elbow:

Golfer’s elbow is a lot like Tennis Elbow, but the tendon on the inside of the elbow suffers inflammation.

Distal Biceps Rupture:

The distal biceps tendon attaches to the radius bone in the elbow. When the tendon becomes worn from overuse, it can rupture, causing pain in the elbow. The biceps muscle can also retract to the upper arm, creating a prominent bump.

Posterior Impingement:

This condition occurs during repetitive extension of the elbow. Straightening the elbow causes pain at the back of the elbow and locking or clicking may occur.

Elbow Dislocation:

Elbow dislocation needs urgent treatment and may be associated with other injuries such as fractures and instability. Elbow dislocations cause complex conditions that may need ongoing treatment.

Treatment of Sports Injuries of the Elbow

Depending on the type of injury, non-surgical treatment may be tried first.
These treatments may include:

  • Using anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce pain and swelling.
  • Resting the injured elbow, especially in the case of repetition injuries.
  • Using a strap or splint to support and immobilise the injury site.
  • Physiotherapy treatments.
  • Corticosteroid injections to reduce pain and swelling.

Some conditions such as a distal biceps rupture, need surgery without delay.

Surgery: What to Expect

Depending on the type and severity of your injury, surgery might be the best option. Dr James McLean specialises in minimally invasive arthroscopic (key-hole) surgery. His aim is to get you the best possible outcome, taking into account your lifestyle, general health and family situation. Before surgery, Dr McLean will guide you through the process and address any concerns you have. You can read more about various elbow surgical procedures here.

So if you have a sports injury of the elbow, act now to make an appointment. Delaying treatment can cause permanent damage and reduce the potential for a full recovery. Call our friendly team on 08 8267 8292 to make an appointment or use our handy online booking service.