Elbow Instability

What is Elbow Instability?

Elbow instability, also referred to as collateral ligament injury, refers to instability or looseness of the elbow. This occurs due to injuries tor tears of the side ligaments of the elbow which stabilize the elbow.

Elbow Instability

What is Elbow Instability?

Elbow instability, also referred to as collateral ligament injury, refers to instability or looseness of the elbow. This occurs due to injuries tor tears of the side ligaments of the elbow which stabilize the elbow.

Causes and Symptoms of Elbow Instability

Causes

Some of the causes of elbow instability include: 

  • Athletes that engage in overarm throwing sports such as cricket or baseball. Repetitive stretching of the ligaments eventually results in tearing of the elbow ligaments.
  • Trauma to the elbow such as fractures or dislocations around the elbow.

Symptoms

Some of the symptoms associated with Elbow instability or Collateral ligament injury include:

  • Pain around the elbow
  • Swelling and tenderness of the elbow area
  • Partial dislocations of the elbow joint can be felt as the elbow giving way
  • Inability to throw a ball or lift objects
  • Clicking of the elbow joint or instability

How is it diagnosed?

The doctor will assess your elbow symptoms for pain, weakness or looseness of the elbow.

Physical Examination
The doctor will assess the stability of the elbow joint, as well as actions that reproduce the symptoms or pain in the elbow.

Imaging tests 
X-rays and MRI scans are often required to assess the severity of the injury fully, and to guide further treatment.

Elbow Instability

How is it diagnosed?

The doctor will assess your elbow symptoms for pain, weakness or looseness of the elbow.

Physical Examination
The doctor will assess the stability of the elbow joint, as well as actions that reproduce the symptoms or pain in the elbow.

Imaging tests 
X-rays and MRI scans are often required to assess the severity of the injury fully, and to guide further treatment.

Elbow Instability

Treatment Options

For less serious cases of elbow instability, rest and physiotherapy are sufficient for full recovery. However, you may need surgery if non-surgical treatments do not work. Surgery is usually considered for patients with elbow pain which inhibits them from carrying out daily activities.

Keep in mind that if your condition requires surgery, your Orthopaedic Surgeon should always educate you on:

  • Risks of the surgery
  • How to prepare for a surgery
  • What will be required for post-op care

Rest
In this case, a patient can abstain from any activity that involves throwing objects for some time. Resting the elbow can help relieve some pressure on the elbow, thus allowing it to self heal.

Physiotherapy
Physiotherapy, when appropriately administered, can help improve the muscle strength, thus allowing the elbow joint to regain stability with time.

Tears in the elbow area that do not respond to preliminary treatments would consequently require surgery. This treatment option is for patients with persistent pain or instability of the elbow, which inhibits them from carrying out daily activities.

Elbow Arthroscopy 
Elbow arthroscopy is often performed to assess the internal structure and stability of the elbow joint. Certain injuries can also be repaired this way.
Read More

Elbow Reconstruction Surgery 
Surgical reconstruction of the torn ligaments can restore stability to the elbow. This would ultimately help to restore the function of the elbow and to resolve the symptoms of pain and instability.
Read More

Disclaimer

Shoulder | Elbow Orthopaedic Group does not endorse any treatments, procedures, products, or physicians that are referenced in this article. This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific orthopaedic advice or assistance should consult his or her Orthopaedic Surgeon.

If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected]

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