Guest post by Avery Arora, MD
When the bones in the forearm are moved out of place with the bones in the upper part of the arm, the result is usually a dislocated elbow. All of the bones in the arm meet at the elbow joint, and dislocating the joint is a very serious injury.
What causes a dislocated elbow?
The dislocation of an elbow generally stems from some type of traumatic force that causes the bones to push apart from one another. This can happen during many types of sports, as well as in auto accidents. It can also occur when someone falls onto his or her outstretched arms and tries to stop the fall.
What are the signs and symptoms?
Those who have dislocated their elbow will generally experience an enormous amount of pain when the injury occurs. They will no longer be able to continue with whatever activity they were doing, as the pain will be too bad and they will have limited movement. The greatest amount of pain is generally felt at the elbow, but pain can also be in the rest of the arm, the hand, and the fingers.
It’s often possible to feel the elbow “pop” out of place when the injury occurs. The area around the elbow will also begin to swell. In the most serious cases, it can cause damage to the blood vessels, which will result in a loss of pulse in the arm. This is very serious and requires immediate medical care.
The muscles that control your elbow are actually located in the upper and lower arm. There are three muscles and one tendon that help your elbow move. They are:
- Biceps Brachii: This is a muscle that is in the upper arm. It allows you to bend your elbow and rotate your forearm so that the palm faces up.
- Brachialis: This is a muscle located in the lower arm. It also helps bending of the elbow.
- Triceps Brachii: This is the third muscle. Located in the arm, it allows you to straighten your elbow.
- Lacertus: This is a thick tendon that runs from the tendon of the biceps.
Learn more about elbow muscles and other muscles, bones, joints and tendons of the upper extremity at www.HandCare.org.
I sit at a desk most of the workday, keyboarding. My wrists and elbows are always aching. Is there anything I can do?
If you spend most of your day at a desk, your work station should be evaluated and adjusted to ensure proper positioning and desk posture. Your work station should be set up specifically for you. There are many symptoms that may occur from sitting at a poorly designed work station. These symptoms include fatigue or soreness of wrists, elbows, neck, scapular region and lower back. Eventually, if these signs aren’t addressed, you may start to experience pain or numbness and tingling in these areas. If your work station is shared, it should be adjustable to fit the needs of all who use that workstation.
What should my work station look like?
Proper workstation assessment should include looking at the height of your chair, the type of keyboard and mouse you’re using, and position of your monitor. Proper height of your chair should allow ankles, knees, hips and elbows to rest at 90 degrees.
Dr. Douglas E. Pittner answers your questions about Cubital Tunnel Syndrome.
My doctor said I have cubital tunnel syndrome. What does that mean?
The cubital tunnel is the name for a space, like a tunnel, at the inside of the elbow. It is where your ulnar nerve (the “funny bone” nerve) travels around the elbow and into your forearm. Sometimes problems develop in this area. It is possible for this tunnel to be too tight, causing pressure on the ulnar nerve. The nerve can also be stretched as it travels around the elbow. Cubital tunnel syndrome refers to the pain, numbness, or weakness that is caused by these problems around the elbow.
Why do my fingers to go numb?
The ulnar nerve travels from your elbow to your hand and provides sensation to your fingers as well as connections to important muscles in your hand. The nerve acts like an electrical wire that sends signals to and from the hand. When this nerve is stretched or compressed at the elbow, the electrical signals can be slow. Your body interprets this as numbness or tingling, usually in the small and ring fingers. You may experience pain in the elbow or forearm. Weakness can also develop in the hand muscles which can cause decreased strength with gripping or pinching.
Some of the most common injuries in yoga are muscle or joint problems, though most problems are mild. Yoga can even be a safe and helpful form of exercise for people with joint issues like rheumatoid arthritis, as long as you know how to modify postures with the help of your yoga teacher.
Here are seven tips to help keep your joints healthy and safe in yoga:
1. Protect your wrists: Spread your hands wide and evenly when your hands bear weight, such as in Downward Facing Dog Pose.
Beginners in yoga often tent their hands in Downward Facing Dog Pose, but this actually makes it more difficult on your hands and wrists. Make sure that your hands are spread wide and ground all corners of your palm on your mat. Your hands should be pressed down firmly enough that someone would not be able to pluck your fingers off the mat.
Dr. David Wei of Orthopaedic & Neurosurgery Specialists in Greenwich, CT, an orthopedic hand surgeon who specializes in injuries of the hand, wrist, and elbow, explains:
The elbow is where your forearm and upper arm join together. Elbow tendons help connect muscles and bones, allowing your arm to bend and straighten. Here are some specifics:
- Biceps brachii tendons: Connect the muscle in the upper arm to the bones near the front shoulder and to the radius bone at the elbow. These tendons help bend (flex) the elbow and rotate the forearm.
- Tricep brachii tendons: Connect the muscle in the upper arm to the bones near the shoulder and to the ulna bone at the back of the elbow. These tendons help straighten (extend) the elbow.
- Brachialis tendon: Connects the muscle in the upper arm to the ulna bone of the forearm near the elbow. This tendon helps bend (flex) the elbow.
- Brachioradialis tendons: Connect the muscle in the forearm to the humerus bone in the upper arm and the radius bone in the forearm near the wrist. These tendons help bend (flex) the elbow.
- Supinator tendons: Connect the muscle in the forearm to the humerus bone in the upper arm and the radius bone in the forearm near the elbow. These tendons allow the muscle to rotate the forearm.
I have pain on the outside of my elbow when reaching for objects with my elbow extended. The pain increases if the object weighs more than a few pounds, such as a gallon of milk, a coffee pot or the laundry detergent. How did I get this pain?
The condition you are describing may be lateral epicondylitis, more commonly known as “tennis elbow.” The irony is that this overuse condition often occurs in non-tennis players from improper lifting and carrying of objects, or from performing activities that are highly repetitive in nature. The activities translate force to the outside of the elbow, causing inflammation and micro-tears in the tendon (see diagram below).