Hyperextended elbow

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A hyperextended elbow arises once the elbow joint is moved out of its normal range of motion. The injury can cause intense pain and can take several weeks to fully recuperate.

The injury is likely to occur among those who engage in contact sports or other rigorous physical activities. Those who fall might hyperextend the elbow while attempting to cushion the fall.

What are the signs?

A popping sound and immediate discomfort are the characteristic signs of a hyperextended elbow.

Other signs that might be present include:

  • Elbow pain during movement or if the joint is touched
  • Redness and swelling
  • Stiffness
    Hyperextended elbow
    Apply an ice pack on the joint right after the injury to lessen the pain and swelling.
  • Diminished movement
  • Loss of strength in the affected arm
  • Muscle spasms

In serious cases, it can result to the deformity of the elbow or diminished circulation in the affected arm and hand.

Management of a hyperextended elbow

The treatment for a hyperextended elbow mainly involves the management of the symptoms and allowing the joint enough time to recuperate.

The usual treatment options include the RICE method:

  • Rest – the elbow joint must be given time to heal. This requires avoiding flexing and extending the elbow after the injury. It is also recommended to take a break from sports or other activities that involves the joint.
  • Ice – apply an ice pack on the joint right after the injury to lessen the pain and swelling. It must be applied at 20 minutes at a time and repeated several times during the initial 1-2 days.
  • Compression – this helps limit movement and lessen the inflammation. An elastic compression bandage can be used for this purpose. A regular elastic bandage can be applied firmly around the joint.
  • Elevation – raise the elbow above the level of the heart to lessen the swelling. This must be done during the initial days after the injury. This is done by propping the elbow on cushions while sitting or lying down.

Other treatment options include:

  • Pain medications can help lessen the pain and swelling.
  • Elbow brace can help immobilize the arm and elbow to promote healing.
  • In severe cases, surgery is required especially if the adjacent bones or ligaments are damaged. A brace must be worn after surgery followed by physical therapy.

Quick Note / Disclaimer

The material posted on this page on a hyperextended elbow is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn about the cause and how it is treated, register for a first aid and CPR course with Victoria First Aid.

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