Management of a sprained elbow

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A sprained elbow is a painful condition and occurs when the ligaments of the elbow are overstretched violently or torn. Ligaments are tissue bands that function in providing stability to the joints by connecting bones to each other. People playing contact sports such as football, basketball and throwing sports like javelin throw face a high risk of having a sprained elbow. It can be initially treated with rest, application of ice, compression and elevation. Remember that it will take weeks or months for an elbow sprain to heal. A sprained elbow can be classified into three forms – mild, moderate and severe.

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  • In minor cases, the ligament fibers have miniscule tears where the individual can fold the hand or stretch it out.
  • In moderate cases, a section of the ligament is ripped and function of the elbow joint is partly lost.
  • In severe form, it involves complete rupture and disconnection of the ligament from the bone and the individual is in agony and has difficulty in moving his/her elbow joint.

Symptoms of sprained elbow

Sprained elbow
In a mild sprain, he/she has limited movement of the elbow and the skin is bruised, red and warm to the touch.
  • There is swelling in the elbow immediately after the injury
  • An agonizing pain in the elbow joint
  • In a mild sprain, he/she has limited movement of the elbow and the skin is bruised, red and warm to the touch.
  • In an injury that is severe, he/she can feel a popping sound inside his/her elbow
  • Individual is not capable of moving his/her hands and there is loss of function in cases of moderate and severe sprain of the elbow.

Treatment and home remedies of sprained elbow

  • Allow the individual to completely rest the affected arm by wearing a sling. By resting the arm in the sling, the weight is transferred on neck and shoulder in order to immobilize the arm.
  • Apply an ice pack during the early stage of the injury in order to minimize swelling and pain by wrapping ice cubes in a cloth and apply to the affected area for at least 10 minutes. Take a break for about 1 hour and resume again. Perform this for the first 5-6 hours with an interval of 8 hours for 2 days.
  • Apply a compression bandage around the elbow in order to provide support and it also helps in minimizing the swelling. Just avoid wrapping it too tightly since it will stop the circulation of blood.
  • Keep the arm in an elevated position.
  • Take pain and anti-inflammatory medications. It will take about 2-3 weeks for a mild sprain to heal while 2-3 months for a severe sprain.
  • Once the swelling and pain are minimized, encourage the individual to engage in rehabilitation exercises in order to restore the strength and range of motion to the elbow joint. Seek the help of a physical therapist so that proper rehabilitation exercise can be started.

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