Arm + Elbow

Elbow Issues

Biceps Tendon Tear

Tears of the biceps tendon at the elbow are often caused by a sudden injury. Other arm muscles make it possible to bend the elbow fairly well without the biceps tendon; however, they cannot fulfill all the functions of the elbow, especially the motion of rotating the forearm from palm down to palm up. To return arm strength to near normal levels, surgery to repair the torn tendon is usually recommended. However, nonsurgical treatment is a reasonable option for patients who may not require full arm function.

Learn more about a biceps tendon tear.

Elbow Bursitis

Elbow bursitis occurs in the olecranon bursa, a thin, fluid-filled sac that is located at the bony tip of the elbow. Normally, the olecranon bursa is flat. If it becomes irritated or inflamed, more fluid will accumulate in the bursa, and bursitis will develop causing pain and limiting movement. If your doctor suspects that bursitis is due to an infection, he or she may recommend aspirating (removing the fluid from) the bursa with a needle. This is commonly performed as an office procedure. If the bursitis is not from an infection, elbow pads, activity changes, and medications may be recommended. If the bursa does not improve with nonsurgical treatments, surgery may be needed.

Learn more about elbow bursitis.

Elbow Dislocation

When the joint surfaces of an elbow are separated, the elbow is dislocated. Elbow dislocations can be complete or partial, and usually occur after a trauma, such as a fall or accident. A complete elbow dislocation is extremely painful and very obvious. The arm will look deformed and may have an odd twist at the elbow. A partial elbow dislocation or subluxation can be harder to detect. The elbow may appear fairly normal and will usually move fairly well, but there may be pain. The normal alignment of the elbow can usually be restored in an emergency department at the hospital. In a complex elbow dislocation, surgery may be necessary to restore bone alignment and repair ligaments.

Learn more about elbow dislocation.

Tendinitis (Tennis Elbow & Golfer's Elbow)

Tennis elbow and golfer's elbow are both types of tendon degenerative conditions. Tennis elbow is on the outside of the elbow and golfer's elbow is on the inside part of the elbow. Athletes are not the only people who develop these conditions. It is a common condition for people who participate in work or recreational activities that require repetitive and vigorous use of the forearm muscle. Typically, the pain begins as mild and slowly worsens over weeks and months. In most cases, patients have success with nonsurgical treatments such as rest, medications, physical therapy, bracing, steroid injections, or shock wave therapy. If symptoms do not improve after 6 to 12 months of nonsurgical treatments, your doctor may recommend surgery.

Learn more about tendonitis.

Valgus Extension Overload (Pitcher's Elbow)

When you throw a ball, the bones in your arm are twisted and forced against each other. Over time, this can wear away the protective cartilage on your elbow and cause abnormal bone overgrowth (bone spurs). Pitcher's elbow often manifests itself as pain on the inside of the elbow. It most often occurs gradually, but, in cases of severe injury, can occur suddenly and sometimes with a pop or tear sensation. The elbow joint may also feel as though it is locked or stuck. Conservative treatment options include rest, ice, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. In more severe cases, surgery may be recommended.

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