Thrower’s Elbow

Brief Outline of Thrower’s Elbow

Athletes involved in throwing sports are vulnerable to this condition, which is a result of severe stress to elbow. The baseball pitch is a common source of thrower’s elbow, as well as tennis, volleyball, javelin throwing, and cricket. Compression of the outer structures of the elbow combined with tension to the inner structures, over time, can cause painful stretching of ligaments as well as bone spurs and chips.

Anatomy and physiology

Although the elbow may be generally considered a hinge joint, it actually encompasses three articulations – the humero-ulnar, the humero-radial, and the proximal radio-ulnar joints. The three bones of the arm, the humerus, radius and ulna, help to form these joints. A forceful throwing motion can damage these bones, as well as the associated muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the elbow. Throwing activity results in a compression of structures on the lateral or outside of the elbow, while simultaneously stretching structures on the medial or inside of the elbow. Lateral compression can cause tiny fractures in the bones of the elbow, leading to bone spurs and chips. Medial stretching can cause a painful and debilitating strain to ligaments.

Cause of thrower’s elbow

Repetitive strain from throwing activity. Direct injury to the elbow. Improper athletic technique.

Signs and symptoms

Pain over both sides of the elbow, Weakness, stiffness or numbness of the elbow. Restricted mobility of the forearm due to elbow injury.

Complications if left unattended

Thrower’s elbow eventually restricts movement in the arm and causes ongoing pain and inflammation. Bone spurs and chips, calcium formation, and the production of scar tissue are all symptomatic of this injury over time, if left unattended. Without proper treatment and rehabilitation, pressure on nerves and muscles due to such inflammation can restrict blood flow and pinch nerves used to control forearm muscles.

Treatment

  • Avoid activity causing repetitive stress to the elbow.
  • Oral Anti-Inflammatory
  • Physiotherapy
  • Injection
  • Shockwave Therapy

Rehabilitation and prevention

Proper warm-up in order to prepare muscles and tendons for throwing activities is an essential preventive measure. Stretching exercises to maintain suppleness and flexibility of tendons should be an ongoing part of athletic preparation. Bracing and strapping the arm prior to throwing activity may also help to prevent thrower’s elbow. Attention to proper equipment and technique is critical. Following a period of recovery from injury, exercises directed at regaining flexibility, endurance, and power should be undertaken.

Long-term prognosis

With proper rehabilitation, those suffering from thrower’s elbow can generally expect a full recovery, though allowing the problem to worsen can lead to permanent, potentially career-ending restrictions of movement for athletes.

Call (+65) 6471 2674 (24 Hour) for an appointment to treat your elbow pain today.