Elbow Injury Symptoms and Treatments – Orthopedic Los Angeles

elbow pain kerlan jobe orthopedic clinic ronald kvitne shoulder knee orthopedic specialistCubital Tunnel Syndrome

Dr. Ronald Kvitne provides Cubital tunnel release surgery – a widely recommended surgical procedure to correct the cubital tunnel syndrome. Cubital tunnel syndrome, also called ulnar nerve entrapment, is a condition that is caused due to the compression of the ulnar nerve, present in an area of the elbow, called cubital tunnel. The ulnar nerve travels down the back of the elbow behind a bony bump called a medial epicondyle and through a passageway called cubital tunnel.

Elbow (Olecranon) Bursitis

Bursae are thin, slippery sacs located throughout the body that act as cushions between bones and soft tissues. They contain a small amount of lubricating fluid that allows the skin to move freely over the underlying bone. The olecranon bursa lies between the loose skin and the pointy bone at the back of the elbow called the olecranon. Normally, the olecranon bursa is flat. If it becomes irritated or inflamed, more fluid will accumulate in the bursa and bursitis will develop. Injuries to the biceps tendon at the elbow usually occur when the elbow is forced straight against resistance. It is less common to injure this tendon when the elbow is forcibly bent against a heavy load.

B U R S I T I S   S Y M P T O M S :

Swelling is often the first symptom. The skin on the back of the elbow is loose, which means that a small amount of swelling may not be noticed right away. In many cases, the first sign of bursitis is swelling at the elbow. As the swelling continues, the bursa begins to stretch, which causes pain. The pain often worsens with direct pressure on the elbow or with bending the elbow. The swelling may grow large enough to restrict elbow motion. If the bursitis is infected, the skin becomes red and warm. If the infection is not treated right away, it may spread to other parts of the arm or move into the bloodstream. This can cause serious illness. Occasionally, an infected bursa will open spontaneously and drain puss which should be addressed quickly by Dr. Kvitne.

Elbow Dislocation

When the joint surfaces of an elbow are separated, the elbow is dislocated. Elbow dislocations can be complete or partial. In a complete dislocation, the joint surfaces are completely separated. In a partial dislocation, the joint surfaces are only partly separated. A partial dislocation is also called a subluxation.

S Y M P T O M S :

A complete elbow dislocation is extremely painful and very obvious. The arm will look deformed and may have an odd twist at the elbow and should be seen by Dr. Kvitne as soon as possible.

Elbow (Olecranon) Fractures

When you bend your elbow, you can easily feel its “tip,” a bony prominence that extends from one of the lower arm bones (the ulna). That tip is called the olecranon (oh-lek’-rah-nun). It is positioned directly under the skin of the elbow, without much protection from muscles or other soft tissues. It can easily break if you experience a direct blow to the elbow or fall on a bent elbow.

S Y M P T O M S :

  • Sudden, intense pain
  • Inability to straighten elbow
  • Swelling over the bone site
  • Bruising around the elbow
  • Tenderness to the touch
  • Numbness in one or more fingers
  • Pain with movement of the joint

Osteoarthritis of the Elbow

Osteoarthritis of the elbow occurs when the cartilage surface of the elbow is damaged or becomes worn. This can happen because of a previous injury such as elbow dislocation or fracture. It may also be the result of degeneration of the joint cartilage from age. Osteoarthritis usually affects the weight-bearing joints, such as the hip and knee. The elbow is one of the least affected joints because of its well-matched joint surfaces and h4 stabilizing ligaments. As a result, the elbow joint can tolerate large forces across it without becoming unstable.

S Y M P T O M S :

The most common symptoms of elbow arthritis are:

  • Pain
  • Loss of range of motion

Both of these symptoms may not occur at the same time. Patients usually report a “grating” or “locking” sensation in the elbow. The “grating” is due to loss of the normal smooth joint surface. This is caused by cartilage damage or wear. The “locking” is caused by loose pieces of cartilage or bone that dislodge from the joint and become trapped between the moving joint surfaces, blocking motion.

Joint swelling may also occur, but this does not usually happen at first. Swelling occurs later, as the disease progresses.

In the later stages of osteoarthritis of the elbow, patients may notice numbness in their ring finger and small finger. This can be caused by elbow swelling or limited range of motion in the joint. The “funny bone” (ulnar nerve) is located in a tight tunnel behind the inner (medial) side of the elbow. Swelling in the elbow joint can put increased pressure on the nerve, causing tingling. If the elbow cannot be moved through its normal range of motion, it may stiffen into a position where it is bent (flexion). This can also cause pressure around the nerve to increase.

Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)

Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, is a painful condition of the elbow caused by overuse. Not surprisingly, playing tennis or other racquet sports can cause this condition. But several other sports and activities can also put you at risk. Tennis elbow is an inflammation of the tendons that join the forearm muscles on the outside of the elbow. The forearm muscles and tendons become damaged from overuse — repeating the same motions again and again. This leads to pain and tenderness on the outside of the elbow. There are many treatment options for tennis elbow. In most cases, treatment involves a team approach. Primary doctors, physical therapists, and, in some cases, surgeons work together to provide the most effective care.”

S Y M P T O M S :

The symptoms of tennis elbow develop gradually. In most cases, the pain begins as mild and slowly worsens over weeks and months. There is usually no specific injury associated with the start of symptoms. The symptoms are often worsened with forearm activity, such as holding a racquet, turning a wrench, or shaking hands. Your dominant arm is most often affected; however both arms can be affected. Common signs and symptoms of tennis elbow include:

  • Pain or burning on the outer part of your elbow
  • Weak grip strength

Ulnar Nerve Entrapment (Cubital Tunnel Syndrome)

Ulnar nerve entrapment occurs when the ulnar nerve in the arm becomes compressed or irritated. The ulnar nerve is one of the three main nerves in your arm. It travels from your neck down into your hand, and can be constricted in several places along the way. Depending upon where it occurs, this pressure on the nerve can cause numbness or pain in your elbow, hand, wrist, or fingers.

Sometimes the ulnar nerve gets compressed at the wrist, beneath the collarbone, or as it comes out of the spinal cord in the neck. The most common place where the nerve gets compressed is behind the elbow.

When the nerve compression occurs at the elbow, it is called “cubital tunnel syndrome.”

S Y M P T O M S :

Cubital tunnel syndrome can cause an aching pain on the inside of the elbow. Most of the symptoms, however, occur in your hand and can be treated by Dr. Ronald Kvitne.

  • Ulnar nerve entrapment can give symptoms of “falling asleep” in the ring finger and little finger, especially when your elbow is bent. In some cases, it may be harder to move your fingers in and out, or to manipulate objects.
  • Numbness and tingling in the ring finger and little finger are common symptoms of ulnar nerve entrapment. Often, these symptoms come and go. They happen more often when the elbow is bent, such as when driving or holding the phone. Some people wake up at night because their fingers are numb.
  • Weakening of the grip and difficulty with finger coordination (such as typing or playing an instrument) may occur. These symptoms are usually seen in more severe cases of nerve compression.
  • If the nerve is very compressed or has been compressed for a long time, muscle wasting in the hand can occur. Once this happens, muscle wasting cannot be reversed. For this reason, it is important to see Dr. Kvitne if symptoms are severe or if they are less severe but have been present for more than 6 weeks.

Dr. Ronald Kvitne is an Orthopedic Surgeon specializing in minimally invasive, arthroscopic surgery – should you require surgical intervention. Although surgery could alleviate your pain, Dr. Kvitne will do his best to avoid surgical intervention as many knee injuries can be treated through conservative measures such as medication and rehabilitation therapy.

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Doctor Ronald Kvitne, MD

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6801 Park Terrace Drive Los Angeles, CA 90045
301 N Lake Ave Pasadena, CA 91101

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