The Center for Orthopedic Specialists offers highly skilled diagnosis, and provides both surgical and non-surgical treatment for elbow conditions resulting from injury or trauma, as well as chronic or painful elbow disorders.
Tennis Elbow (lateral epicondylitis)
When the muscles, ligaments, and tendons forming the elbow joint’s structure are over-used, a resulting condition may occur inflaming the forearm’s outside tendons (extensor carpi radialis brevis (ECRB) which secure the forearm muscles. Tennis elbow, as the name suggests, is frequently associated with racquet sports and similarly repetitive athletic and occupational motions of the wrist, forearm, and elbow. The condition, commonly referred to as tennis elbow, may generate tenderness, or – depending on the extent of over-use – substantial pain at the external portion of the elbow.
A wide variety of treatment options are available for tennis elbow with favorable prognosis. Early diagnosis and treatment may substantially reduce the possibility of advanced joint or nerve damage.
Elbow (Olecranon) Bursitis
Elbow bursitis is a condition in which the slippery sac (bursa) covering and separating the external elbow bones from the elbow’s loose skin becomes irritated or inflamed. The condition may become very painful should the bursa sac swell with fluid, or if infection was the origin of the inflammation, or both. Additionally, the bursa sac contains nerve endings which are acutely and painfully reactive to swelling. The swelling of the normally flat bursa sac in elbow bursitis can range from visually imperceptible to golf-ball sized and can ultimately lead to pus pooling or pocketing.
Causes of elbow bursitis include direct impact trauma to the tip of the elbow, continued and recurring pressure on the elbow joint for an extended period of months, infection, as well as other medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or gout.
It is imperative that swollen elbow bursitis be examined by an orthopedic doctor and treated immediately. Should the swelling bursa fluid or infection result in the pooling or pocketing of pus, the pus may become blood-borne spreading throughout the arm or entire body. Blood-borne pus may lead to very serious illness.
Ulnar Nerve Entrapment
Ulnar nerve entrapment is the result of direction compression on the ulna nerve. This compression may cause ongoing or intermittent tingling, sensitivity, numbness, or reduced performance in the ring and pinky fingers, as well as limitation of precise hand movements and the forming of a tight grip by the hand.
The most frequent points of compression include the wrist, under the collarbone, or at its point of emergence from the spinal cord at the neck, and in particular, at the elbow. A variety of conditions or injuries may lead to compression of various areas of the ulna nerve, such as a previous fracture(s) of the elbow, joint swelling in the elbow, bone spurs, or cysts. Additionally, various actions or movement patterns can lead to further irritation of an already compressed ulna nerve such as direct impact trauma at the elbow, leaning on the elbow for extended periods, or repetitive bending of the elbow.
The ulna nerve travels from its origin under the collarbone down through the arm terminating in the hand on the pinky side. The nerve’s path follows down the interior of the upper arm through a tunnel of tissue (the cubital tunnel) at the interior base of the elbow joint. At this point the nerve can be felt through the skin and is frequently referred to as the funny bone.
Professional examination, diagnosis, and treatment of ulnar nerve entrapment is strongly recommended. Advanced ulnar nerve compression – with or without clearly defined symptoms – may lead to irreversible muscle atrophy and failure.