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The elbow, wrist, and hand are common injuries in athletics and activities of daily living. The elbow joint is made up of 3 bones; the humerus, ulna, and radius. These allow the elbow to act as a hinged joint. The radius and ulna can also provide rotation on one another to allow simple twisting activities at both the elbow and wrist so we can perform actions such as opening a doors or twisting open a jar. Elbow injuries are usually chronic, such as “epicondylitis”. This involves repetitive pulling of the tendons on the inside or outside of the elbow. Medial (inside) epicondylitis usually occurs with repetitive wrist flexion activities and is most common in golf activities or very high level tennis. Lateral (outside) epicondylitis occurs with repetitive wrist extension, and occurs during lower level tennis or frequently gripping and carrying heavy objects. Repetitive micro-trauma to the ulnar collateral ligament at the medial side is another common elbow injury that occurs frequently with repetitive baseball pitching. One other common injury at the elbow is to the ulnar nerve, which lives in the “cubital tunnel” of the inside of the elbow. If you’ve ever hit your “funny bone” this is the nerve you injured. It can be bruised during trauma or squeezed by surrounding swelling and inflammation which can lead to tingling and numbness into the ring and pinky finger.
The Wrist and Hand contain many complex structures within a very small space. Animal wounds, lacerations, sprains of ligaments, strains of muscle or tendons, fractures, arthritis, and nerve injuries are common in the wrist and hand. If an animal bite or laceration occurs it is important to stop bleeding with compression and to seek medical attention immediately to evaluate for infection. Fractures occur during trauma or a fall on an outstretched hand. Numbness and tingling is common in the fingers and usually is a result of compression due to swelling or decreased space where the nerve lives. An example is carpal tunnel syndrome causing numbness into the middle finger.
Elbow, wrist, and hand injuries are usually treated conservatively with physical therapy, braces and splints, anti-inflammatory medications, or corticosteroid injections. Some cases require surgery if there is a trauma or if a chronic pain does not subside after receiving the above treatments.
If you suspect any of these symptoms in the elbow, wrist, or hand that are limiting your daily activities do not hesitate to contact our office to schedule an appointment with our Hand, Wrist, & Elbow Specialist, Dr. Fillip Findling.