What is a Hyperextension Injury of the Elbow?
A hyperextension injury of the elbow occurs when the elbow has been overextended or straightened too far. It is quite painful and can result in injury to the surrounding ligaments, tendons, and muscles as well. In addition to the pain felt in the instant in which the elbow is overextended, there are some other more subtle symptoms associated with this type of injury:
1) pain in the interior of the elbow,
2) swelling, stiffness, and redness around the injured area,
3) numbness of the elbow, and
4) spasm of the biceps.
Causes of Hyperextension Injuries of the Elbow
Several activities may result in elbow hyperextension. These activities range from everyday movements to those associated with contact sports. For example, a simple misstep may result in a fall that triggers a hyperextension injury to the elbow as the individual tries to steady his or herself and break the fall. Many hyperextension injuries are the result of participating in contact sports such as soccer, rugby, football, or hockey, where blunt force injuries are common. A hard blow to the elbow, forcing it to bend in the opposite direction, can cause a hyperextension injury.
Immediately following the injury, a cold compress can be applied to the area to treat the associated pain and swelling. An over the counter pain reliever can also be taken for pain. It is best to avoid using the injured arm until it has had time to heal. Additionally, patients might consider using a brace or bandage to help limit mobility and speed up the healing process. Once the injury starts to heal, typically within two weeks of the accident, the patient may be able to start light rehabilitation therapy, using gripping and flexing exercises to help regain strength in the joint and surrounding tissue.
In some cases, however, the pain and swelling associated with a hyperextension injury to the elbow may be so severe that surgical treatment may be necessary to alleviate the problem. In particular, if damage to the ligaments or tendons of the elbow is suspected, it is best to consult a doctor before trying to treat the injury at home.
If a doctor determines that surgical treatment is the best course of action for elbow hyperextension, there are a number of possibilities. Primarily, surgical treatment of hyperextension injuries to the elbow involves repairing any damage to the tendons or ligaments around the elbow. Surgery may involve grafting tissue from other parts of the body to the elbow area, or repairing pinched nerves or obstructed arteries, in the case or a severe injury.
Surgery for Hyperextension Injury of the Elbow
Fortunately, there are now a number of technological advances that permit surgery without much visible scaring and with minimal trauma, considerably shortening a patient’s recovery time. For example, endoscopic procedures permit corrective surgery without the need to fully expose the elbow. The best course of action, however, will be the one decided upon by the patient and doctor based on an in-depth assessment of the injury.
As with any injury, recovery time following a hyperextension injury to the elbow will depend on the severity of the injury. For mild injuries, recovery may be relatively quick, with just one or two weeks of home care followed by about a month of physical therapy exercises to help rebuild strength in the joint. For more severe cases, particularly those for which surgery is required, recovery will likely take longer. Those recovering from surgery may take advantage of several months of physical therapy in order to make a full recovery.
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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