We rely on our arms to complete a number of tasks every day, and an oft-overlook area that helps us complete a lot of these tasks is our elbow. The elbow is a hinge joint that connects our humerus with the bones in the forearm, but it doesn’t get the same love that larger joints like the knee or shoulder do. That said, a number of problems can develop in your elbow if you aren’t smart about protecting the area during activity. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at five common conditions that can develop in your elbow if you’re not careful, and how a physical therapist can help treat these problems.
Treating Elbow Problems With Physical Therapy
If you’re dealing with any of the following symptoms or conditions, you could benefit from connecting with a physical therapist.
- Tennis Elbow – Although it can commonly develop in tennis players based on the mechanics of the sport, tennis elbow can develop in any individual who overstresses or overloads the elbow joint with repetitive motions. A physical therapist can help strengthen the muscles and tissues that support the elbow joint and fine tune your mechanics so that actions aren’t as stressful on your elbow joint when it’s in motion.
- Range Of Motion Problems – Injury or joint deterioration in the elbow can cause a number of problems for the joint, with one of the most common issues being a loss of flexibility or range of motion. Physical therapists can work to pinpoint the underlying cause of this loss in flexibility and develop some exercises to strengthen structures that allow for easier movement and range of motion. If you can no longer bend your elbow like you used to, consult with a physical therapist to work to regain this lost flexibility.
- Fractures – You may be surprised to learn that your elbow is often one of the first areas to strike the ground in the event of an unexpected fall. Direct trauma to the elbow joint can lead to fractures and significant dysfunction if the area doesn’t heal as intended. Your body can mend the fracture, but it will be physical therapy that works to restore strength, stability and flexibility in the joint that will be protected and have limited function for an extended period while the break heals.
- Nerve Entrapment – If you’ve ever hit your elbow in the perfect spot, you may have felt the sensation commonly referred to as your “funny bone.” The funny bone isn’t actually a bone at all, because that sensation is caused when you irritate the cubital nerve that passes through the elbow. If this or any other important nerves become entrapped in the elbow region, it can lead to localized or shooting pain. Your PT can help to free the compressed nerve or provide you with some exercises to help limit discomfort when symptoms begin to develop.
- Arthritis – Like any joint in the body, your elbow joint becomes arthritic as a result of excessive stress over the years. This can make even the simplest movements painful and can have you withdrawing from activities you once loved. Your physical therapist can help strengthen nearby structures to take pressure off your elbow, and they can educate you on some different movement techniques that will put less pressure on the area, which will both help to alleviate symptoms and slow down arthritis progression.
We don’t often pay much attention to our elbows unless pain sets in, and once that happens, it shouldn’t be ignored. Untreated elbow issues can become more symptomatic, and that can also make them harder to treat. Instead of ignoring the problem, sync up with a physical therapy team that can help alleviate symptoms and get your back to all the activities you love. For more information, or for help with your elbow issue, reach out to the team at OrthoRehab Specialists today.