The elbow is made up of several components and has a rather complex mechanical function. In sports, the elbow is likely to suffer some type of injury. This is especially true for athletes that participate in throwing sports, racquet sports, and golf.
Most sports injuries to the elbow are the result of overuse. Tendonitis occurs from performing a repetitive, forceful motion over and over again, and it is the most common culprit causing elbow pain for athletes who have to throw objects and swing racquets or clubs.
In other types of sports, acute elbow injuries are more common. Acute injuries might occur in a number of ways but an example includes a sudden accident, like from a fall or collision. For athletes that engage in contact sports, issues like dislocation, sprains, tendon ruptures, and fractures are more common than overuse injuries.
Types of Elbow Injuries
Lateral epicondylitis, also known as tennis elbow, is a common sports injury. It is an overuse injury that can occur through a number of activities but it is most common among racquet sports players, in fact, it is found to affect over 40% of adult athletes who play racquet sports. This form of tendonitis causes the tendons on the outside of the elbow to become inflamed. Symptoms include pain on the outside of the elbow and reduced grip strength. Treatment of this condition can vary depending on the severity of it. Rest is one of the fundamental treatment options for lateral epicondylitis, but a doctor may also recommend the use of a brace, and in extreme cases, surgical intervention.
Medial epicondylitis, also known as golfer’s elbow, is a form of tendonitis that is similar to tennis elbow. The difference is that golfer’s elbow affects the tendons on the inside of the elbow. Symptoms for golfer’s elbow include pain on the inside of the elbow and forearm, pain when grasping, and a weakened grip. In more severe cases, surgery may be needed to correct the issue, but golfer’s elbow usually gets better with rest and rehabilitation exercises.
In addition to these, you have a number of injuries that commonly occur in athletes who engage in overhand throwing. These athletes expose their elbow to extreme force while flexing and extending the elbow and it can lead to injuries like flexor tendonitis, valgus extension overload, injury to the ulnar collateral ligament and stress fracture to the olecranon.
Injury can also occur to the ulnar nerve, it is known as cubital tunnel syndrome and ulnar neuritis. The ulnar nerve stretches over the outside of the elbow. This area is often referred to as the “funny bone” because when it is struck, it causes an odd tingling sensation.
Sports elbow injuries can have many different forms and causes. For the most part, the prevention of elbow injuries for athletes will require a plan that is specific to the sport. The following includes a few points for elbow injury prevention.
This is Part 9 of an 11 Part Series:
- (Click Here) for Prevention Tips for Shin Splints
- (Click Here) for Prevention Tips for Tendinitis
- (Click Here) for Prevention Tips for Sprains
- (Click Here) for Prevention Tips for Muscle Strains and Pulls
- (Click Here) for Prevention Tips for Stress Fractures
- (Click Here) for Prevention Tips for Foot and Ankle Injuries
- (Click Here) for Prevention TIps for Knee Injuries
- (Click Here) for Prevention Tips for Shoulder Injuries
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