Elbow Injuries in Workers’ Compensation Cases

Many workers suffer from elbow pain. Usually, elbow injuries result from either traumatic accidents or repetitive movements. Obtaining an accurate diagnosis is critical for treating elbow injuries because different injuries require different kinds of treatment. MRI scans are an excellent source for diagnosing many elbow injuries. Below are some general descriptions of typical elbow injuries.

Lateral and medical epicondylitis (tennis elbow)

Tennis elbow involves pain on the outside of the elbow joint. This pain makes it difficult to grip objects. Despite the name, most people who have this injury are not necessarily tennis players, but they tend to use their hands a lot. A similar injury called medical epicondylitis, also known as golfer’s elbow, is slightly different because it involves pain on the inner side of the elbow joint.

Olecranon bursitis

The olecranon is the bony prominence right behind the elbow joint. Olecranon bursitis involves swelling and tenderness over the olecranon. Bursitis is most commonly found behind the elbow joint.

Tendonitis

Technically, tendonitis can be found in any of the tendons surrounding the elbow. Two of the tendons that are notorious for creating elbow pain include the biceps tendon and the triceps tendon. Biceps tendonitis involves pain in front of the joint, while triceps tendonitis involves pain behind the joint.

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

Cubital tunnel syndrome involves pain surrounding the elbow joint, as well as pain that shoots down the forearms and causes numbness in the fingers. The pain is caused by compression to the ulnar nerve. The ulnar nerve is a nerve that wraps around the inside of the elbow joint.

Radial tunnel syndrome (resistant tennis elbow)

Radial tunnel syndrome is like tennis elbow, only it involves compression of a nerve in the forearm. Compression takes place in the elbow, which pinches the nerve and makes it difficult for the nerve to operate muscles in the wrist and hand. This involves pain around the elbow as well as weakness in the wrist and hand.

The following symptoms require a doctor’s attention:

1) Loss of use of the arm that results in an inability to carry objects

2) Loss of ability to flex or straighten the arm

3) Bruising or swelling around the arm or elbow joint

4) Fever, redness, warmth or any other signs of fever

5) Deformity of the elbow joint caused by injury

6) Pain that occurs in the elbow while resting

7) Pain in the elbow that lasts for more than a few days

8) Any other symptoms that are unusual

Elbow pain treatments:

– Rest: Usually rest helps eliminate swelling, which can cure pain. Ice and heat can also help reduce swelling. Monitor an appropriate amount of rest, because too much rest can result in a stiff joint.

– Stretching: Some causes of elbow pain can be alleviated by light stretching of the muscles and tendons that surround the elbow joint.

– Physical Therapy: Physical therapists design plans to help regain strength from specific injuries. Successful therapy can result in a complete return to normal condition.

– Medications: Medications can help to relieve painful swelling. Usually doctors prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications to relieve pain.

– Cortisone Injections: If other medications don’t relieve pain, cortisone is a more serious medication that helps reduce swelling.

– Surgery: Some types of elbow injuries require surgery in order to repair problems.