The elbow joint is supported and protected by strong ligaments to allow movement and stability to the joint. An elbow sprain occurs when one or more of the ligaments in the elbow joint is excessively stretched or torn. In certain cases, it is possible that the torn ligaments may pull off a fragment of bone, causing avulsion fracture. Generally, elbow sprain is an uncommon elbow injury.
What Are the Causes of An Elbow Sprain?
Elbow sprain can occur when excessive force is placed on the elbow unexpectedly. This is commonly seen in situations such as:
- Direct hit or blow to the elbow
- Falling on an outstretched arm
- Sudden forceful twisting of the arm
- Overusing of the elbow during sports
Types of Elbow Sprain:
Ligaments sprain are generally graded as below:
Grade 1 (mild) – stretch of the ligaments, still intact
Grade 2 (moderate) – partial tear of the ligament
Grade 3 (severe) – complete rupture of the ligaments
Signs and Symptoms of Elbow Sprain
- Pain around the joint
- Swelling around the joint
- Tenderness and stiffness
- Bruise after the injury
- Limited range of motion
- ‘pop’ sound at the time of injury
Treatment Option for Elbow Sprain
Initial approach following a sprain is usually the R.I.C.E. method, to help reduce swelling, relive pain, and speed up healing. Allow the area to Rest, by avoiding excessive movement; Ice the area several times a day to reduce pain and swelling; Compress it with elastic bandage and Elevate the elbow to reduce the swelling. However, movement and exercises should be done gradually after a few days to decrease stiffness and maintain the strength of the arm.
The doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs to help reduce pain and inflammation. A rehabilitation program is recommended for active athletics, to encourage speedy recovery to allow return to sports and prevention of further injuries.