Anatomy, Pathology & Treatment of the Elbow Joint

James Walker
on
January 14, 2021

Elbow anatomy

The elbow joint comprises of a connection between the humerus bone of the upper arm and the radius and ulna bones of the lower arm.

The elbow joint is known as a synovial joint meaning that the bones are not in direct contact due to the presence a synovial fluid filled joint capsule. Synovial joints allow greater mobility compared with other joints such as fibrous and cartilaginous joints

The elbow is generally considered a hinge joint meaning it allows flexion (bending) and extension (straightening). It does however also allow two other movement called supination (palm up) and pronation (palm down) which allow you to rotate the hand from a palm up to a palm down position and vice versa.

There are many muscles that attach at the elbow joint. The most relevant muscles when discussing pathology and treatment are:

  • Biceps
  • Triceps
  • Common flexor group ( a group of muscles attaching to the inside of the elbow)
  • Common extensor group ( a group of muscles attaching to the outside of the elbow)

Elbow joint

Common pathology of the elbow

Tennis elbow

Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow aka lateral elbow tendinopathy is a condition where the tendon that attaches to the outside of the elbow becomes painful. The condition can come on acutely for example after spending an afternoon shearing hedges in the garden or slowly for example spending many years at a desk using a mouse.

Tasks that involve gripping often become painful and it can feel quite debilitating.

Golfers elbow

Golfers elbow aka medial elbow tendinopathy is a condition where the tendon that attaches to the inside of the elbow becomes painful. The condition can often start due to performing excessive pulling actions. Gripping and lifting can often become difficult with this condition

Cubital tunnel syndrome

Cubital tunnel syndrome

Cubital tunnel syndrome is a condition where the ulna nerve becomes irritated as itpasses through the inside of the elbow joint. Symptoms often felt are shooting pains down the inside of the forearm as well as numbness or pins and needles in the little and ring finger.

Olecranon bursitis

Olecranon bursitis

Olecranon bursitis is a condition where a fluid filled sac called a bursa becomes irritated and inflamed. It is located at the back or ‘the tip’ of the elbow and can be caused by direct trauma following a fall or repeated stress for example leaning on the elbow on a hard surface for many hours

Treatment

The Whitehouse Clinic is much more than just a regular physiotherapy clinic. We have the ability to facilitate any intervention that is needed to help manage and rehabilitate any type of elbow injury or issue. The information below outlines all of the services available at the clinic.

Physiotherapy assessment and treatment

We have a group of highly experienced physiotherapists who will be able to provide a thorough assessment and diagnosis of your elbow issue. Following this they will be able to provide you with the most evidence-based treatment to ensure improvement and hopefully resolution of your symptoms.

In the case where further investigations or treatment is required, they have the knowledge base and contacts to make sure the appropriate onward referrals are made with minimal waiting times.

State-of-the-art gym and rehabilitation facilities

Our clinic is equipped with both a gym and a studio both filled with modern equipment enabling our physiotherapists have the facilities to provide the best rehabilitation available.

Rapid access to investigative and scanning facilities

If you require further investigation such as an x-ray or MRI scan, we have the clinical pathways to refer you quickly. Some elbow issues can be assessed with an ultrasound scan which we are able to perform in house with no waiting list.

Corticosteroid injections

In certain situations, an anti-inflammatory, pain relieving injection known as a corticosteroid injection is used in the management of elbow issues such as olecranon bursitis. We are able to provide these injections on site.

Shockwave Therapy

Shockwave therapy works by passing acoustic shockwaves through the skin to the painful area. This process helps to:

  • Break down scarred tissue and calcifications
  • Have a pain relieving effect by inhibiting the transmissions of the pain signal to the brain
  • Initiate increased blood circulation which in turn accelerates the body’s own healing processes.

Shockwave therapy has been shown to be particularly effective in improving issues with tendons with as golfers and tennis elbow.

Direct referral links to the top orthopaedic specialists in the area

We have long standing professional relationships with the top orthopaedic specialists in the area so in the scenario where an orthopaedic referral, possibly leading to surgery, is required we are able to refer swiftly and directly.

Summary

At the White House Clinic we are able to help you with any form of elbow issue at any stage of the process to recovery.

The elbow joint can be a source of pain and decreased function for many people however there is almost never a situation where you ‘just have to live with it’.

If you have any questions about your elbow or any of the services that we provide then get it contact with us today and we will be happy to help.

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