Arm and Elbow Injury | Physicool

Arm and Elbow Injury

This injury guide identifies arm and elbow injuries; the common causes of an arm or elbow injury, symptoms, treatments and rehabilitation. Jump to section:

Proximal Humeral Fracture (Broken Upper Arm)
Tennis Elbow
Golfers Elbow
Elbow Bursitis
Elbow Arthritis

Proximal Humeral Fracture (Broken Upper Arm)

What is a proximal humeral fracture?

The humerus is the upper arm bone, located between the shoulder and elbow. This area of the upper arm is a common site for fractures. Curiously enough, two groups of people are more susceptible to this kind of fracture: older women and adolescents.

Symptoms of proximal humeral fracture

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Inability to straighten arm

What causes proximal humeral fracture?

Invariably, there is a history of trauma – for instance, a fall onto an outstretched arm. The most common causes of proximal humeral fracture include a direct blow, a fall, or an accident.

How to treat proximal humeral fracture

Treatment depends on the pattern of the fracture, which is juxtaposed with patient age, general health and the functional demands of the arm. With no displacement of bone fragments and good stability of the fracture, conservative treatment is favoured over surgery.

  • Sling
  • Cast
  • Cooling therapy
  • Physiotherapy
  • Surgery

Tennis Elbow

The elbow joint is surrounded by muscles that provide movement for the elbow, wrist and fingers. The tendons within the elbow connect the bones and muscles, and operate the muscles of the forearm. Tennis elbow is the name given to overuse of the arm, forearm and hand muscles, resulting in elbow pain. It became known as such due to its prevalence among tennis players.

Symptoms of tennis elbow

Symptoms of tennis elbow typically include:

  • Increasing pain around the outside of the elbow
  • Pain with gripping or squeezing objects
  • Swelling and inflammation

Causes of tennis elbow

Tennis elbow is typically caused by over-activity of the surrounding muscles, which are used to straighten the wrist. If the muscles and tendons become strained or sprained, small tears and inflammation can occur around the lateral epicondyle on the outside of the elbow. As the name implies, tennis elbow is often caused by playing tennis. However, it is also caused by other activities that involve repeated pressure on the elbow joint.

Tennis elbow treatment

Tennis elbow is self-limiting, meaning it will eventually resolve without treatment. Despite this, there are treatments that help improve the symptoms, reduce the pain and accelerate recovery. Be sure to cease any aggravating activity and rest the injured arm. In most cases, tennis elbow lasts anywhere between six months and two years. Ninety percent of cases see a full recovery within a year.

  • Cold compress, such as Physicool, to help reduce the pain and swelling
  • Painkillers and anti-inflammatories
  • Physiotherapy may be recommended by a doctor, although only in severe cases. Massaging the area may help the pain to subside and improve mobility of the arm
  • Surgery – although only as a final resort, to remove the damaged tendon

The PRICE approach is recommended by NHS Choices:

  • Protection – protect the injured area from further injury – using a support bandage if appropriate
  • Rest – stop the activity that caused the injury, and rest the injured joint or muscle. Avoid activity for the first 48 to 72 hours after injury
  • Ice – for the first 48 to 72 hours after the injury, apply a cooling therapy like Physicool
  • Compression – compress or bandage the injured area to limit any swelling and movement that could damage it further
  • Elevation – keep the injured area raised and supported on a pillow to help reduce swelling Physicool provides the key stages of PRICE in a single reusable bandage, providing protection, cooling and compression for the elbow injury to help the healing process.

A size A Physicool bandage should be applied to the elbow injury to draw pain and heat away from the injury by rapid evaporation. While the deep tissues are being cooled, the simultaneous compression effects of Physicool will modify the inflammatory response to soft tissue damage which helps promote healing.

Golfers Elbow (Medial Epicondylitis)

What is golfers elbow?

Golfers elbow causes pain and swelling in the tendons that link the forearm to the elbow. Golfers elbow pain is located on the bump on the inside of your elbow, although it may spread to the forearm too. Any repetitive hand, wrist or forearm movements can lead to golfer’s elbow.

Symptoms of golfer’s elbow

The main symptom of golfers elbow is a pain located near the bone on the inside of the elbow. It can spread along the inner forearm too. In many cases, the pain becomes increasingly worse.

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Trouble flexing elbow

What causes golfers elbow?

Golfer’s elbow is generally caused by overuse of the muscles in the forearm that allow for gripping, rotation of the arm, and flexing of the wrist. Thus, repetitive flexing, gripping and swinging can result in the pulls and tears that bring on golfers elbow. Sports that are at risk include racket sports, bowling and cricket.

How to treat golfers elbow

As with any similar injury, it is critical to get treatment for golfer’s elbow quickly.

  • Cooling therapy (Physicool)
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Physiotherapy

Protection, rest, ice, compression and elevation (PRICE) is one of the most recommended approaches for the management of sprains and injuries like golfers elbow. The aim is to minimize swelling, inflammation and pain, to provide the best conditions for healing to take place.

The PRICE approach is recommended by NHS Choices:

  • Protection – protect the elbow from further injury – using a support bandage if appropriate
  • Rest – stop the activity that caused the injury, and rest the injured joint or muscle. Avoid activity for the first 48 to 72 hours after injury
  • Ice – for the first 48 to 72 hours after the injury, apply a cooling therapy like Physicool
  • Compression – compress or bandage the injured area to limit any swelling and movement that could damage it further
  • Elevation – keep the injured area raised and supported on a pillow to help reduce swelling

Physicool provides the key stages of PRICE in a single reusable bandage, providing protection, cooling and compression for golfers elbow to help the healing process. A Physicool bandage can be applied to the elbow and the cooling effect recharged by spraying Physicool Coolant directly onto the bandage whilst it is in position.

Elbow Bursitis

What is elbow bursitis?

Elbow bursitis is swelling of the small sacs of fluid (bursae) that help joints move fluidly across the elbow. Elbow bursitis affects the olecranon bursa at the rear of the elbow and is sometimes referred to as Popeye elbow. Inflammation causes swelling and extra fluid to be produced.

Symptoms of elbow bursitis

Symptoms of elbow bursitis include:

  • Severe pain – namely in moving the elbow or applying pressure to the elbow
  • Swelling – in the form of a lump at the back of the elbow
  • Redness, warmth, swollen nymph nodes

Causes of elbow bursitis

A number of things can lead to the development of elbow bursitis.

  • Moderate but repetitive injury is the most common cause. For instance, people who often lean of their elbows create friction and repeated injury (small but harmful)
  • Singular injuries, such as a blow to the back of the elbow, may also cause the onset of elbow bursitis
  • Arthritis can also stimulate the condition, causing the bursae to become inflamed
  • Bursae infection may happen if cut in the skin over a bursae is sustained
  • Some causes are still unknown – in some cases, people have developed the condition for no apparent reason

Elbow bursitis treatment

Treatment for elbow bursitis can vary depending on its severity. In some cases, no treatment is required, with the problem often resolving itself. in most cases treatment will include:

  • Ice or cooling therapy (Physicool) to relieve pain and swelling
  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Ultrasound and electrical treatment
  • Steroid injections
  • Painkillers
  • Surgery to remove the defective bursa

The PRICE approach is recommended by NHS Choices:

  • Protection – protect the injured area from further injury – using a support bandage if appropriate
  • Rest – stop the activity that caused the injury, and rest the injured joint or muscle. Avoid activity for the first 48 to 72 hours after injury
  • Ice – for the first 48 to 72 hours after the injury, apply a cooling therapy like Physicool
  • Compression – compress or bandage the injured area to limit any swelling and movement that could damage it further
  • Elevation – keep the injured area raised and supported on a pillow to help reduce swelling Physicool provides the key stages of PRICE in a single reusable bandage, providing protection, cooling and compression for the elbow injury to help the healing process.

Elbow Arthritis (Osteoarthritis of the Elbow)

What is elbow arthritis?

Osteoarthritis of the elbow usually happens when the cartilage of the elbow is damaged or wears down. This can be the result of a previous injury, such as dislocating the elbow, or even a fracture. It may also result from age-related degeneration of the joint cartilage.

Symptoms of elbow arthritis

The most common symptoms of elbow arthritis are:

  • Elbow pain
  • Loss of range of motion
  • Swelling
  • Numbness

What causes elbow arthritis?

Arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks and degrades the connective tissue of joints. The elbow can be affected by different types of arthritis, like any other joint. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis; it doesn’t just affect just the elbow, but a number of joints. The causes are hard to pinpoint, but the onset is more likely if the elbow has been previously injured – for instance, a fractured joint. Rheumatoid arthritis is another form that typically affects the elbow.

How to treat elbow arthritis

Treatment depends on the stage of the disease and your prior history.

  • Medication to alleviate pain
  • Physical therapy
  • Cooling therapy to relieve swelling
  • Corticosteriod injections
  • Surgery / arthroscopy

Many arthritis doctors recommend using a cooling therapy like Physicool to help reduce inflammation and ease the pain and stiffness. Using Physicool twice a day for 30 minutes has helped many suffers with the pain and stiffness as the cold compression reduces swelling by constricting blood vessels whilst soothing the area.

Physicool is a reusable cotton bandage impregnated with a patented liquid which draws heat away from the affected tissues by rapid evaporation. While the deep tissues are being cooled, the simultaneous compression effects of Physicool modify the inflammatory response to soft tissue damage which helps promote healing.

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