Elbow

Arthritis

Arthritis occurs when cartilage is damaged or decreased over time. Cartilage is the smooth covering over bones that allows joints to glide. This covering can become damaged due to traumatic injury or can just degenerate over time.

With severe and untreated arthritis the joint becomes inflamed and extra bone can form as your body attempts to protect the joint which causes even more pain.

Types

There are different types of arthritis. The primary reason for arthritis is “wear and tear,” and is caused over time. This is osteoarthritis. Other types of arthritis can occur due to trauma or illness such as rheumatoid arthritis or septic arthritis. Systemic psoriasis or lupus can also cause joint degeneration.

Symptoms:

  • Pain
  • Loss of motion
  • Loss of strength
  • Grinding
  • Clicking
  • Pain with daily activities and motion

Diagnosis

  • Exam by your surgeon
  • X-rays
  • Possible MRI
  • Possible CT/CAT scan

Possible Treatment: Non-operative

  • Physical Therapy
  • Anti-inflammatory Medication
  • Injections
  • Nutritional Supplements

Possible Treatment: Operative

  • Joint Replacement
  • Removal of bone spurs
  • Removal of cartilage fragments

Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD)

OCD often occurs through traumatic injury or overuse. Fragments of cartilage from your elbow joint become separated and may form loose bodies in your joint.

Symptoms:

  • Pain at a specific area of the elbow
  • Clicking
  • Locking
  • Difficulty extending and flexing

Diagnosis

  • Exam by your surgeon
  • X-rays
  • MRI

Possible Treatment: Non-operative

  • Anti-inflammatory Medications
  • Cryotherapy
  • Modified Activity

Possible Treatment: Operative

  • Cartilage fragment repair (re-attaching with screws/tacks to your bone)
  • Cartilage floating body removal
  • Cartilage regeneration/replacement

Elbow Inflammation

Olecranon Bursitis

Bursa is a fluid filled sac that helps reduce the friction. Bursa can cause pain when it thickens or becomes inflamed. This is often the result of overuse or repetitive motion. Patients who often lean on their elbow or have a traumatic fall where they land on the tip of the elbow may develop olecranon bursitis.

Symptoms:

  • Pain near elbow
  • Fluid-filled pouch at tip of elbow
  • Over time, fluid may harden and become infected (red and hot)

Diagnosis:

  • Exam by your surgeon
  • X-rays

Possible Treatment: Non-operative

  • Anti-inflammatory Medication
  • Physical Therapy
  • Joint aspiration (draining the fluid)
  • Compression pad
  • Sling
  • Cryotherapy
  • Injections

Possible Treatment: Operative

  • Removal of inflamed/thickened bursa

Medial Epicondylitis (Golfer’s Elbow)

Medial epicondylitis is the inflammation of the tendons attached to the muscles that flex the wrist. The pain will usually be felt on the inner aspect of the elbow. Medial epicondylitis is the result of trauma or overuse, especially in patients who have occupations requiring them to continually flex the wrist (carpenters, painters, artists, typists). Athletes that play baseball, racquet sports, or golf are also susceptible to medial epicondylitis.

Symptoms:

  • Pain near the bone on the inner aspect of your elbow
  • Pain making a fist
  • Loss of wrist flexion
  • Loss of strength

Diagnosis

  • Exam by your surgeon
  • X-rays
  • Possible MRI to check for tendon tears

Possible Treatment: Non-operative

  • Anti-inflammatory Medication
  • Physical Therapy
  • Modified Activity
  • Cryotherapy

Possible Treatment: Operative

  • Removal of injured tissue
  • Bone marrow stimulation (Stem cell stimulation)
  • Tendon repair with sutures and anchors

Lateral Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow)

Lateral epicondylitis is the inflammation of the tendons attached to the muscles that flex the wrist. The pain will usually be felt on the outer aspect of the elbow. Lateral epicondylitis is the result of trauma or overuse, especially in patients who have occupations requiring them to continually flex the wrist (carpenters, painters, artists, typists). Athletes that play racquet sports are susceptible to lateral epicondylitis.

Symptoms:

  • Pain near the bone on the outer aspect of the elbow
  • Pain when making a fist
  • Difficulty extending the wrist
  • Loss of strength

Diagnosis:

  • Exam by your surgeon
  • X-rays
  • Possible MRI to check for tendon tears

Possible Treatment: Non-operative

  • Anti-inflammatory Medication
  • Physical Therapy
  • Modified Activity
  • Cryotherapy

Possible Treatment: Operative

  • Removal of injured tissue
  • Bone marrow stimulation (Stem cell stimulation)
  • Tendon repair with sutures and anchors

Elbow Dislocation

Elbow dislocation is a medical emergency. Nerves and blood supply can be severely damaged due to a dislocated elbow so seek medical attention immediately. An elbow dislocation is when the upper arm bone is out of alignment with the two bones in the lower arm. Elbow dislocation is a result of trauma (falling, vehicle accidents, sports, etc…)

Symptoms:

  • Pain
  • Deformity
  • Inability to use the arm
  • Numbness and tingling in the hand
  • Cold sensation in the hand

Diagnosis:

  • Exam by your surgeon
  • X-rays

Possible Treatment: Non-operative

  • Reduction (moving the bones back into alignment)
  • Further diagnostic tests to check for blood flow and further damage

Possible Treatment: Operative

  • Possible fracture care
  • Possible ligament repair

Ulnar Nerve Subluxation

The ulnar nerve is inside the elbow and commonly referred to as the “funny bone.” Subluxation occurs when the nerve slips out of the groove in the humerus.

Symptoms:

  • Pain on the inner aspect of the elbow
  • Clicking
  • Numbness and tingling in the ring and pinky fingers

Diagnosis:

  • Exam by your surgeon
  • X-rays

Possible Treatment: Non-operative

  • Anti-inflammatory Medication
  • Physical therapy
  • Modification of activity

Possible Treatment: Operative

  • Nerve is sewed into the soft tissue to relieve pain and eliminate further subluxations

Lateral Ulnar Collateral Ligament Ruptures (Posterolateral Rotatory Instability)

Lateral ulnar collateral ligament ruptures are most commonly caused by a fall onto an outstretched hand. Elbow dislocations may also cause this tear. The lateral ulnar collateral ligament connects the smaller bone in your forearm to the humerus (upper arm bone).

Symptoms:

  • Pain when arm is moved from bent to straight with hand facing upwards
  • Clicking

Diagnosis:

  • Exam by your surgeon
  • X-rays

Possible Treatment: Non-operative

  • Anti-inflammatory Medication
  • Physical Therapy
  • Modification of Activity

Possible Treatment: Operative

  • Elbow reconstruction using a graft to replicate the torn ligament

Elbow Tears

Distal Biceps Rupture

The biceps connect to the shoulder (proximally) and the radius (forearm bone) distally. When the biceps tendon tears distally, in the forearm, the patient will have extreme difficulty flexing the elbow or turning the hand face up. This usually occurs as a result of heavy lifting and may be preceded by tendinitis. Surgery is usually recommended for a distal biceps rupture.

Symptoms:

  • Pop in the elbow
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Bruise over lower arm and elbow
  • Loss of strength

Diagnosis:

  • Exam by your surgeon
  • X-rays

Possible Treatment: Non-operative

  • Medication
  • Physical Therapy
  • Cryotherapy
  • Modified Activity

Possible Treatment: Operative

  • Biceps repair using sutures, anchors, buttons, or screws

Ulnar Collateral Ligament Tear (UCL/Tommy John Elbow)

UCL tears are caused by trauma such as a blow to the outside of the elbow or elbow dislocation, or overuse. Athletes who repetitively use the throwing motion are susceptible. The UCL is the ligament that connects the smaller forearm bone (ulna) to the upper arm bone (humerus). Non-operative treatment is possible for patients who do not plan to return to sport.

Symptoms:

  • Pain when arm moves forward (especially in a throwing motion)
  • Swelling near elbow joint
  • Bruising
  • Loss of elbow motion
  • Sudden tears may result in a “pop” sound
  • Loss of control or speed when throwing

Diagnosis:

  • Exam by your surgeon
  • X-rays
  • MRI

Possible Treatment: Non-operative

  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Physical Therapy
  • Cryotherapy
  • Modification of Activity

Possible Treatment: Operative

  • UCL repair with suture augmentation
  • UCL reconstruction using a graft

Triceps Rupture

Triceps generally rupture due to a fall. The triceps tendon is on the back of the arm and attaches to the bone in the forearm. This tendon is responsible for turning and extending the elbow. Patients with a triceps rupture will feel loss of strength when extending the elbow. Surgery is usually recommended for a triceps rupture.

Symptoms:

  • Popping sound in the back of the elbow
  • Pain
  • Bruise on lower arm and elbow
  • Loss of strength
  • Deformity

Diagnosis:

  • Exam by your surgeon
  • X-rays

Possible Treatment: Non-operative

  • Sling
  • Medication
  • Physical Therapy
  • Cryotherapy
  • Modification of Activity

Possible Treatment: Operative

  • Triceps repair reattaching tendon to bone using sutures, screws, and/or anchors

Office Location

Gitelis Orthopedics office

Hoffman Estates

1800 McDonough Road
Suite 202
Hoffman Estates, IL 60192

Located in the Ashton Center for Day Surgery building.

(847) 807-7770
fax: (847) 807-7771

Hours

Monday 7:30am-4:00pm
Tuesday 7:30am-4:00pm
Wednesday 7:30am-4:00pm
Thursday 7:30am-4:00pm
Friday 7:30am-12:00pm
Saturday Closed