Elbow
Common elbow conditions include painful inflammation affecting the tendons around the elbow, nerve entrapment causing numbness and arthritis limiting movement.

Biceps Tendon Ruptures

Biceps tendon ruptures around the elbow involve the tearing or complete separation of the biceps tendon from its attachment point on the radius bone, in the forearm. This type of injury can be caused by sudden, forceful contraction of the biceps muscle or by repetitive strain over time.

Symptoms of a biceps tendon rupture around the elbow may include:

  • Sudden, sharp pain at the front of the elbow or forearm.
  • Audible “pop” or snap at the time of injury.
  • Bruising and swelling around the elbow.
  • Weakness or difficulty in bending the elbow or rotating the forearm.
  • A bulge or deformity in the upper arm, as the biceps muscle may retract.

Treatment options for biceps tendon ruptures around the elbow depend on the severity of the injury, the patient’s activity level and overall health. The two main approaches to treatment are:

  • Non-Surgical Treatment
    For partial or complete ruptures in patients with a low level of activity, conservative treatment may be recommended. This typically involves rest, pain relief and then physiotherapy to gradually regain strength and range of motion. Over time, the remaining intact portion of the tendon and other muscles compensate for the rupture.

  • Surgical Treatment
    Surgical intervention is generally recommended for most patients with complete tendon tears, especially if the individual is active or if the injury significantly impairs their arm function. Surgery is aimed at reattaching the torn tendon to its original attachment site. There are a few surgical techniques that may be used, such as:
    Primary Repair: The surgeon attaches the torn tendon back to its original attachment site on the radius bone.
    Tenodesis: If the tendon cannot be effectively reattached, it may be anchored to another nearby structure, such as the brachialis muscle, to maintain arm strength and function.
    Tendon Graft: In cases where there has been a delay in diagnosis or treatment, a tendon graft from another part of the body (usually hamstring) or donor (usually Achilles tendon) may be used to repair the biceps tendon.Rehabilitation after surgery involves a structured physical therapy program to gradually restore strength, flexibility and function. The recovery period can vary but typically takes several months.

If you are concerned you may have ruptured your bicep tendon, is important to seek an opinion from an experienced medical professional such as an orthopaedic surgeon or physiotherapist, to avoid any delay in diagnosis and a poorer outcome.

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

Cubital tunnel syndrome, also known as ulnar nerve entrapment, is a condition that occurs when the ulnar nerve becomes compressed or irritated as it passes through a narrow passageway on the inner side of the elbow (the cubital tunnel). This compression can lead to symptoms such as numbness, tingling and weakness in the ring and little fingers, as well as pain along the inner forearm.

Treatment for cubital tunnel syndrome aims to alleviate symptoms, prevent further nerve damage and improve overall hand and arm function. Here are common approaches to treatment:

  • Conservative Management
    Activity Modification: Avoiding activities that exacerbate symptoms, such as resting the elbow on hard surfaces.
    Elbow Brace or Splint: Wearing a brace at night can help keep the elbow in a slightly bent position, reducing nerve compression during sleep.
    Physical Therapy: Specific exercises can help improve the flexibility and strength of the forearm muscles, relieving pressure on the nerve.

  • Medications
    Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help manage pain and inflammation.

  • Nerve Gliding Exercises
    Gentle exercises designed to promote the sliding movement of the ulnar nerve within its tunnel can help reduce irritation.

  • Ergonomic Changes
    Adjusting your workspace, tools, and equipment to minimise prolonged elbow flexion and pressure can help reduce strain on the ulnar nerve.

  • Surgical Intervention (in severe cases, if conservative treatments fail)
    Ulnar Nerve Release: The cubital tunnel can be surgically expanded, relieving pressure on the ulnar nerve.
    Nerve Transposition: In some cases, the ulnar nerve may be repositioned to prevent ongoing compression.

The choice of treatment depends on the severity of the condition, the duration of symptoms and individual patient factors. It is important to consult a healthcare professional, typically an orthopaedic surgeon or neurologist to accurately diagnose cubital tunnel syndrome and determine the most suitable treatment plan. Early intervention and appropriate management can help prevent further nerve damage and improve the quality of life.

Elbow Arthritis

Elbow arthritis refers to the inflammation and degeneration of the joint cartilage in the elbow, leading to pain, stiffness and a reduced range of motion. It can result from various factors, including wear and tear over time (osteoarthritis), autoimmune conditions (rheumatoid arthritis) an other underlying conditions.

Treatment for elbow arthritis aims to manage symptoms, improve joint function and enhance the individual’s quality of life. The approach to treatment can vary based on the severity of the arthritis, the underlying cause and the patient’s overall health. Here are some common treatment options:

  • Conservative Management
    Rest: Give the elbow joint time to heal and reduce strain on the affected area.
    Physical Therapy: Strengthening and stretching exercises can improve joint function, reduce pain and maintain range of motion.
    Hot and Cold Therapy: Applying heat or cold can help alleviate pain and inflammation.

  • Medications
    Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen can help manage pain and inflammation.
    Prescription Medications: Stronger pain relievers or anti-inflammatory drugs may be prescribed by a doctor.
    Corticosteroid Injections: These can provide temporary relief by reducing inflammation in the joint.

  • Bracing or Splinting
    Wearing a brace or splint can help stabilise the joint, reduce strain and alleviate pain.

  • Activity Modification
    Avoiding or modifying activities that exacerbate symptoms can prevent further damage to the joint.

  • Surgical Options
    Arthroscopy: Minimally invasive surgery to clean out debris and release joint contractures.
    Arthroplasty: Partial or total joint replacement surgery, where the damaged joint surfaces are replaced with prosthetic components.
    Fusion: Surgical fusion of the joint to eliminate pain and improve stability, sacrificing range of motion.
    Synovectomy: Removal of the inflamed synovial lining of the joint in cases of rheumatoid arthritis.

It is important to note that treatment should be personalised, based on the individual’s condition and needs. A healthcare professional, typically an orthopaedic surgeon, will assess the severity of the arthritis and recommend the most appropriate treatment options. Early intervention and appropriate management can help individuals with elbow arthritis lead more comfortable and functional lives.

Elbow Instability

Elbow instability refers to a condition where the elbow joint is prone to excessive movement beyond its normal range of motion. This can result in pain, discomfort and a feeling of the joint “giving way.” Elbow instability can arise from various factors, such as ligament damage, previous injuries or repetitive strain on the joint. There are two main types of elbow instability: traumatic and atraumatic.

Traumatic Elbow Instability
This occurs due to a sudden injury, such as a fall or impact, which damages the ligaments that stabilise the elbow joint.

Atraumatic Elbow Instability
This type develops gradually over time due to repetitive strain, overuse, or certain medical conditions that weaken the ligaments.

Treatment for elbow instability depends on the severity of the condition and the underlying cause. Here are some common approaches:

  • Conservative Management
    Lifestyle modification: Avoiding repetitive movements or activities that exacerbate instability
    Rest and Immobilisation: Giving the elbow ligaments time to heal by using a splint or brace to limit movement to a safe range.
    Physiotherapy: Strengthening exercises for the muscles around the elbow can help stabilise the joint.

  • Medications
    Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers: To manage pain and inflammation.
    Corticosteroid Injections: In some cases, these can help reduce inflammation and pain.

  • Surgical Options
    Ligament repair: Surgical reattachment of damaged ligaments to their origins in order to restore stability.
    Ligament reconstruction: The surgeon uses a tendon graft (usually hamstrings) in the place of the injured ligaments to restore stability to the elbow. This is usually used in conjunction with an internal joint stabiliser that is removed after the tendon grafts have healed.

The treatment approach will be tailored to the individual’s specific condition and needs. It is important to seek medical evaluation if you suspect elbow instability, as a correct diagnosis and timely treatment can help prevent further damage and improve joint function. A medical professional such as an orthopaedic surgeon or physiotherapist will assess the situation and recommend the most appropriate treatment plan.

Golfer's Elbow

Golfer’s elbow, medically known as medial epicondylitis, is a condition that involves pain and inflammation on the inner side of the elbow. Despite its name, golfer’s elbow can affect individuals who perform any repetitive wrist and hand movements, not just golf. It is typically caused by overuse or strain of the muscles and tendons that attach to the bony bump on the inner part of the elbow (medial epicondyle).

Treatment for golfer’s elbow focuses on reducing pain, inflammation, and promoting healing. Here are some common approaches:

  • Rest and Activity Modification
    Giving the affected arm time to rest and avoiding activities that worsen the condition can help the healing process. Once the pain has subsided and healing has progressed, gradually returning to normal activities with proper technique is important.
  • Ice or Cold Therapy
    Applying ice or cold packs to the affected area can help reduce inflammation.
  • Medications
    Over-the-counter pain relievers (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, can help manage pain and reduce inflammation.
  • Physiotherapy
    Specific exercises and stretching can help strengthen the muscles around the elbow and improve flexibility. Your physiotherapist can guide you through a personalised program.
  • Bracing or Splinting
    Wearing a forearm brace or splint can help reduce strain on the affected tendons and promote healing.
  • Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Injections
    In some cases, a doctor may administer PRP injections to reduce inflammation and provide short-term relief.
  • Surgery (in severe cases)
    Surgical intervention is usually considered only if conservative treatments have not provided relief after at least 6 months. The procedure involves removing damaged tissue and repairing the affected tendons back to the medial epicondyle.

It’s important to consult a healthcare professional, such as an orthopaedic specialist or physiotherapist, for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan. Early intervention and adherence to recommended treatments can help manage golfer’s elbow and facilitate a quicker recovery.

Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is a painful condition that affects the outer part of the elbow. Despite its name, tennis elbow is not limited to tennis players; it can affect anyone who repeatedly uses their forearm muscles, leading to overuse and strain on the tendons that attach to the lateral epicondyle (the bony bump on the outer part of the elbow). This condition is often caused by repetitive motions such as gripping, twisting, or lifting objects, which can result in small tears or damage to the tendons.

Symptoms of tennis elbow include:

  • Pain or burning sensation on the outer part of the elbow.
  • Weakness in the forearm.
  • Difficulty gripping objects or performing everyday activities.

Treatment for tennis elbow usually resolves with time and a combination of conservative measures. In severe cases, surgical intervention may be required. Here are some common treatment options:

  • Rest
    Give your elbow a break from activities that aggravate the condition to allow the tendons to heal.
  • Ice
    Applying ice to the affected area can help reduce inflammation and pain. Ice should be applied for about 15-20 minutes every few hours.
  • Pain Relief
    Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, can help manage pain and reduce inflammation.
  • Physiotherapy
    A physiotherapist can guide you through exercises to stretch and strengthen the forearm muscles, improving flexibility and reducing strain on the tendons while avoiding exacerbating pain and prolonging the recovery phase.
  • Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy
    In refractory cases, PRP can be an option. This involves injecting a concentrated solution of platelets from your own blood into the affected area to promote healing.
  • Surgical Intervention
    Surgery is considered a last resort when other treatments have not been effective. The surgical procedure involves removing damaged tissue and reattaching healthy tendons to the bone.

It is important to consult an experienced medical professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan, tailored to your specific condition and needs. Early intervention and appropriate management can often lead to successful recovery from tennis elbow.