How To Treat A Hyperextended Elbow? Its Causes And Symptoms

Hyperextended elbow occurs suddenly and without any prior warning. It commonly occurs in individuals who take part in contact sports such as football. The pain associated with the injury affects one’s ability to play sports, as well as, makes day to day activities a huge challenge.

The elbow joint comprises of 3 bones – the humerus, the radius and the ulna.

Elbow hyperextension takes place when the structures which attach the bones get pushed past their normal range of movement. Fundamentally, the elbow gets twisted too far in the wrong direction from a straightened position. The condition may trigger ligament or tissue damage and can momentarily hinder full movement of the joint.

Hyperextension Of Elbow Causes And Symptoms

The chief cause for hyperextended elbow is a direct blow / trauma to the elbow backwards. This causes bruising to the bony as well as soft tissue structures. The main cause for the occurrence of an elbow hyperextension is that the structures connecting the humerus, radius and ulnar get pressed beyond the normal range of movement.

Doctors who work in sports medicine very often see hyperextended elbows in athletes and have developed a host of treatment regimens.

Hyperextended elbow is characterized by the following symptoms:

  • Pain and tenderness, such that movement is not possible.
  • Muscle spasms and extreme pain on trying to straighten the arm.
  • Swelling and inflammation around the elbow.
  • Stiffness and tingling numbness.

How To Treat A Hyperextended Elbow?

  • The health care provider will first and foremost try to manage the pain and discomfort. Over-the-counter pain medication for severe discomfort is recommended.
  • Next, it is crucial to manage the swelling and inflammation promptly. Apply ice pack to the affected area. Ice helps allay the swelling and inflammation quickly. Warp ice cubes in a cloth and place on the elbow for 5 minutes about 3 to 4 times a day.
  • Have 2 to 3 glasses of ginger tea daily for about a week. Ginger is packed with a compound called gingerols which reduces swelling and inflammation almost immediately and thus it will help allay all pain and discomfort.
  • In severe cases, when you experience extensive pain while moving your arm to straighten the joint, the physician may advise immobilizing the arm by wearing a sling. Your doctor may also advocate using an elbow brace for better immobilization and stability.
  • After the worst of the pain has diminished, the next aspect of the treatment can commence. Your doctor will advise physical therapy for a period of 2 weeks. Physical therapy will help enhance your range of motion and reduce stiffness considerably. After completing your exercises sessions, you can start with resistance training using weights to augment strength in the muscles around the elbow.
  • By and large, the damage heals in a few days, and thereafter you can recommence your usual activities. Severe injuries will heal in about a month.

In very rare cases of elbow hyperextension, surgical intervention may be required to mend damaged ligaments that cannot heal on their own.

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