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What is a hyperextension injury to the elbow?

An elbow hyperextension injury is an injury caused when the elbow is bent the wrong way. This causes damage to the ligaments and structures on the front of the elbow. Physiotherapy is an effective treatment for elbow hyperextension injuries.

Passive stretch of the elbow joint applied by the therapistAbove: Passive stretch of the elbow joint applied by the therapist

What can cause a hyperextension injury to the elbow?

The most common mechanism of an elbow hyperextension injury is during contact sports such as rugby or martial arts.

What are the symptoms of a hyperextension injury to the elbow?

An elbow hyperextension injury causes pain in the elbow joint. The pain may cause you to hold your arm across your body. The pain will increase as you try to straighten your arm. Other symptoms could include:

What should I do if I have a hyperextension injury to the elbow?

If you have suffered an elbow hyperextension injury it is advised that you stop your activity immediately. The first 24–48 hours is an important time in the treatment the injury. Swelling is a natural part of the healing process; however too much swelling can delay healing and cause unnecessary tissue damage. To reduce the amount of swelling, speed up healing and limit the degree of damage to the elbow, the RICE regime should be followed (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation). Icing will reduce the extent of swelling and tissue damage by reducing blood flow to the injured area.

If your pain is very severe and you are experiencing symptoms into your forearm and hand then you should go to your nearest accident and emergency department so that they can rule out the possibility of an elbow fracture.

Following this initial treatment, you should consult your physiotherapist for specific treatment.

Physiotherapy for a hyperextension injury to the elbow?

Physiotherapy is very important in the treatment of elbow hyperextension injuries. Initially, your physiotherapist will diagnose your problem and determine an appropriate treatment plan. Initial treatment may be in the form of strapping, gentle range of movement exercises and electrotherapy. Latter treatment may involve more soft tissue treatment such as electrotherapy, massage and stretching, and the progression through a series of specific strengthening exercises to allow you to return to normal activity and contact sport as soon as possible. Other treatments may include:

Can a hyperextension injury to the elbow have any long-term effects?

With the correct physiotherapy input, elbow hyperextension injuries normally heal without complication. In some cases, however, especially when surrounding structures are also damaged recovery may be delayed.

To arrange a physiotherapy appointment call on 0330 088 7800 or book online today.

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