Hyperextension Injury of the Elbow

What is Hyperextension of the Elbow?

The Elbow is made up of three bones, the humerus, radius and ulna. Because of this there are actually three joints within the elbow. The humero-ulna articulation is the largest and is responsible for flexion and extension of the arm. This is the joint that is injured when the elbow is hyperextended. Hyperextension simply means that the joint is extended beyond its natural range of motion. The damage cause by this type of injury affects the ligaments, bones, and possibly other structures within the elbow.

What causes Hyperextension of the Elbow?

Any activity that leads to the elbow being forcefully extended beyond its physiological range can result in Hyperextension Injury of the Elbow. Strenuous physical activities, such as weight lifting, or sports like gymnastics, are common causes of hyperextension injuries. Falling onto an outstretched arm is another frequent cause of this condition.

What are the symptoms of Hyperextension of the Elbow?

Pain occurs instantly at the time of injury and can range from a dull ache to sharp pain during movement. There may also be swelling, weakness, muscle spasms of the biceps, and/or discoloration at the site. In severe cases there may be a noticeable deformity in the elbow or circulation issues in the hand.

How is Hyperextension of the Elbow diagnosed?

The doctor will take a full medical history including causative factors. Then the arm will be examined thoroughly. X-rays may be ordered to investigate for suspected fractures. CT scans or MRI may be performed to determine the location and extent of damage to any soft tissue such as ligaments or tendons.

How is Hyperextension of the Elbow treated?


Cold compresses are extremely useful at the time of injury to reduce inflammation and pain. Ice therapy may be used several times a day for about 15 to 20 minutes at a time during the first few days following injury. The ice should be wrapped in cloth and never applied directly to the skin. An elastic bandage may be used for compression and the elbow should be elevated on pillows above the level of the heart. A brace can be used to immobilize the elbow to ensure proper rest and allow the healing process to take place. Patients may take over the counter medications such as ibuprofen to ease pain and inflammation. Within about two weeks rehabilitation exercise may begin to return strength and flexibility to the joint.


Severe cases and those that do not respond to conservative treatment will require surgery. The goal will be to repair damaged structures such as ligaments and/or tendons within the elbow. Post-operatively the arm is immobilized for a period of time. Finally, rehabilitation therapy is used to restore function to the elbow.

Dr. Knight’s Expertise as an Orthopedic Surgeon

Dr. Knight’s expertise in treating hand and upper extremity problems as an orthopedic surgeon allow him offer first rate service backed by years of experience. Dr. Knight offers a full range and hand, wrist, arm, and elbow treatments using state-of-the-art technology. Moreover, Dr. Knight has ample experience solving some of the most complicated joint problems using surgical and non-surgical options that permit quick recovery followed by full use of the problem area.

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