Elbow Instability

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

Causes  |  Symptoms  |  Treatment Options

What Causes Elbow Instability?

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.

What are the Symptoms of Elbow Instability?

Some of the symptoms associated with Elbow Instability include: 

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

Elbow Instability Treatment

For less severe cases of elbow instability, rest and physiotherapy are sufficient for a 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. 

Non-Surgical Treatment for Elbow Instability

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

Surgical Treatment for Elbow Instability

Surgery is a treatment option for persistent cases of golfer’s elbow where non-surgical approaches have failed.  

    • Elbow Arthroscopy
      Elbow arthroscopy is often performed to assess the internal structure and stability of the elbow joint. Certain injuries may also be repaired using this method.
    • Elbow Reconstruction Surgery
      Surgical reconstruction of the torn ligaments may restore stability to the elbow. This would ultimately help restore the elbow function and resolve the symptoms of pain and instability.