Plymouth Injury Clinic

Treatment Location

Elbow & Arm Injuries

Elbow & Arm

Injuries

Elbow & Arm injuries affect everyone from recreational gardeners and musicians to boxers and power lifters. Many of these injuries occur as a result of repetitive motion and stresses placed on the muscles, tendons, bones and ligaments. The impact of these injuries make life very challenging and prevent us doing activities we take for granted, like making and holding a cup of tea or shaking hands.

Arm Pain
Arm Injury

Common treatable conditions include:

– Tennis Elbow

– Golfer’s Elbow

– Upper Arm Fractures

– Bicep / Tricep Strains

Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis) is a condition which affects the outer (Lateral) side of the elbow where the forearm muscles attach to the upper arm at the elbow joint. The cause of this injury is typically prolonged overuse of the forearm muscles through activities such as gardening and repetitive lifting, which causes micro tears to the forearm extensor muscles. The symptoms of Tennis Elbow are:

  • Pain in elbow when lifting
  • Pain when gripping object and shaking hands
  • Pain when clenching your fist
  • Difficulty holding objects such as a cup
Treatment for this condition in the early stages involves avoiding provocative movements, rest and the application of ice. Therapists will work on releasing tension in the forearm extensor muscles through massage, soft tissue release, stretching and cupping.  Other treatments that have been shown to be affective in combatting Tennis Elbow is dry needling, joint mobilisations and electrotherapy.

Golfer’s Elbow (Medial Epicondylitis) is a condition which causes pain on the inner (Medial) side of the elbow where the forearm muscles attach to the bony landmark on the inside of the elbow. This cause of this injury is from repetitive strains from continued overuse of the forearm muscles that flex the wrist and are involved in gripping actions. The symptoms of Golfer’s Elbow are:

  • Pain and tenderness on the inside (medial aspect) of the elbow
  • Stiffness and pain clenching your fist or gripping
  • Numbness and weakness in forearm, hands or fingers
  • Difficulty turning door handles or taking a lid off of a jar
Treatment for this condition in the early stages involves avoiding provocative movements, rest and the application of ice. Therapists will work on releasing tension in the forearm flexor muscles through massage, soft tissue release, stretching and cupping.  Other treatments that have been shown to be affective in combatting Golfer’s Elbow is dry needling, joint mobilisations and electrotherapy.

Upper arm (humerus) fractures often happen as a result of reaching out onto an outstretched arm upon falling, a car crash or another direct impact. These fractures tend to occur either in the upper region of the humerus (close to the shoulder) or in the mid portion of the humerus bone. The symptoms of an upper arm fracture include:

  • Pain and swelling immediately after the trauma
  • Loss of ability to move the shoulder
  • Internal bleeding  and also external bleeding  if it’s an open fracture
  • Numbness in the arm and / or shoulder
  • Deformity of the bone
An upper arm fracture requires immediate medical attention. For proximal fractures near the shoulder the majority of fractures will not require surgery and will be treated by being placed in a sling. For mid or lower shaft fractures it is more common to place the arm in a plaster cast.  At the appropriate time following the fracture, a therapist will use rehabilitation exercises to improve range of movement and strength. Massage and electrotherapy can also be used to help with pain, healing and movement.

An upper arm strain or tear involves damage to either the Bicep or Tricep muscles or tendons. These type of injuries are usually graded between 1 and 3 depending on severity, which a grade 3 being a complete rupture of the muscle or tendon. Strains often occur when the tissue is taken beyond its normal anatomical range (over-stretched) as a result of high velocity movements or where the tension placed on these muscles or tendons is beyond the muscles ability to manage. This can occur in activities such as weight lifting, throwing, twisting unnaturally and falling on your outstretched arm. Symptoms include:

  • Swelling and Bruising on the arm
  • Weakness in the shoulder
  • Deformity of the arm
  • Loss of strength in arm or shoulder
  • Pain in the arm and inability to twist the arm
An upper arm strain should receive an early diagnosis to determine which grade of injury is likely, as a grade 3 tear may require surgery to re-attach the tendon. Conservative treatments include rest, ice and compression. Depending on the severity and the stage of the injury, a therapist will seek to manage the pain, increase tendon and muscle integrity through optimal loading and ensure the scar tissue is aligned through gentle mobilisations and stretching. Electrotherapy can be used to decrease pain / inflammation and prevent muscle atrophy (wasting).

fer’s Elbow (Medial Epicondylitis) is condition which causes pain on the inner (Medial) side of the elbow where the forearm muscles attach to the bony landmark on the inside of the elbow. This cause of this injury is from repetitive strains from continued overuse of the forearm muscles that flex the wrist and are involved in gripping actions. The symptoms of Golfer’s Elbow are:

  • Pain and tenderness on the inside (medial aspect) of the elbow
  • Stiffness and pain clenching your fist or gripping
  • Numbness and weakness in forearm, hands or fingers
  • Difficulty turning door handles or taking a lid off of a jar
Treatment for this condition in the early stages involves avoiding provocative movements, rest and the application of ice. Therapists will work on releasing tension in the forearm flexor muscles through massage, soft tissue release, stretching and cupping.  Other treatments that have been shown to be affective in combatting Golfer’s Elbow is dry needling, joint mobilisations and electrotherapy.

The forearm has two bones at each side the Radius (on the lateral / outer side) and the Ulnar (on the medial / inner side. A fracture can occur to either one of these bones of both at the same time, and with at the top (close to the elbow), middle or lower (close to the wrist) part of the bone. These injuries typically occur as a result of falling on an out stretched arm, a car crash, playing impact sport and other direct blows. The symptoms of an forearm fracture include:

  • Arm pain that exacerbates with wrist or elbow movement
  • Pain and swelling in the forearm, wrist or hand
  • Internal bleeding  and also external bleeding  if it’s an open fracture
  • Numbness in the forearm, hand or fingers
  • Deformity of the forearm
A forearm fracture requires immediate medical attention. Whether the fracture is proximal (near the elbow) in the middle or distal (near the wrist) the majority of fractures will not require surgery and are treated by being placed in a plaster cast or forearm brace.  At the appropriate time following the fracture, a therapist will use rehabilitation exercises to improve range of movement and strength. Massage and electrotherapy can also be used to help with pain, healing and movement.

Ulnar Collateral Ligament (UCL) Sprain often occurs through participation in sports such as volleyball and baseball. The ligament complex on the inside (medial aspect) of the elbow most commonly becomes damaged through repeated stresses on the ligaments (such as throwing), however a single traumatic event can also cause this condition.  The symptoms of a UCL Sprain include:

  • Popping sensation when the injury occurs and when throwing
  • Inability to grip objects firmly
  • Inability to straighten the arm
  • Pain, swelling and bruising on the inside of the elbow
  • Numbness and tingling in the little and wedding ring finger
  • Inability to throw
Initially the treatment for this condition would include rest, ice, compression and elevation to reduce the swelling and pain. Electrotherapy can also be used to good effect for pain analgesia. Physical therapy for this condition will concentrate on strengthening the muscles around the elbow, and use manual therapy techniques to increase range of movement and eliminate radiating pain.