About your elbows
About your hands and wrists
What are common elbow conditions?
You use your elbow all the time, making repetitive movements, picking up heavy objects, and even gesturing while you speak, which increases your vulnerability to various repetitive strain injuries. You can also sustain acute elbow injuries during sports accidents, falls, or automobile collisions.
Some of the most common causes of elbow pain include:
An elbow fracture, also known as an olecranon fracture, occurs on the bony point of the elbow. You’re most likely to break your elbow as a result of a fall onto an outstretched arm or a direct blow to the elbow. Orthopedists classify elbow fractures as displaced or non-displaced. These terms indicate whether the affected bones are near to their normal anatomic positions or not. Fortunately, the majority of elbow fractures are non-displaced fractures.
Between the bones and joints of the shoulder and elbow are fluid-filled sacs, known as a bursa. Bursa cushion your bones and help your joints glide smoothly. Elbow bursitis develops when one or more of these bursa becomes irritated or inflamed. Elbow bursitis is often due to repetitive movements or a bone spur. The common signs of elbow bursitis include:
- Pain in your elbow
- Reduced ability to bend or extend your arm
- Swelling and stiffness
Golfer & Tennis Elbow
Golfer’s elbow and tennis elbow are types of tendinitis or tendon inflammation. Golfer’s elbow — medial epicondylitis — affects the tendons on the inside of the elbow. Tennis elbow — lateral epicondylitis — affects the tendons on the outside of the elbow.
Tendinitis on either side of your elbow is usually due to repetitive strain or stress on the tendon. Despite what the names may suggest, golfer’s elbow and tennis elbow are more common in those whose jobs require repetitive motion of the arm and grasping than it is in people who play golf or tennis. In fact, contractors, plumbers, painters, and other laborers are among the most commonly affected by these conditions.
The UCL (ulnar collateral ligament) is a ligament on the inside of the elbow that provides stability and rotation for the elbow joint. An injury to the UCL is commonly associated with baseball pitchers. However, the UCL can be injured in different ways including accidents and sudden traumas such as falls or an impact that causes dislocation.
What are common hand and wrist problems?
You use your hands all the time from brushing your teeth to catching yourself if you trip or fall. The combination of continuous movement and high impact increases your vulnerability to various repetitive strains and acute injuries. Some of the most prevalent causes of hand and wrist pain include:
Arthritis of the Hand, Wrist & Thumb
The hand, thumb, and wrist comprise dozens of bones and the ends of these bones are covered with a thin layer of cartilage that helps the bones glide smoothly when using the hands or wrist. You can develop several types of arthritis in your hands and wrists, although osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the most prevalent.
Arthritis causes inflammation within the joints and leads to cartilage deterioration. As the cartilage deteriorates, the bones of the hand, thumb, or wrist may begin to rub together. The friction of your bones causes inflammation, pain, swelling, and stiffness.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when inflammation in your wrist compresses the median nerve as it passes through a small opening known as the carpal tunnel. It causes pain, numbness, and weakness in your thumb, index, middle, and ring fingers.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is often progressive, which means that the severity of your condition and symptoms increase over time. Eventually, you might lose your ability to grasp small objects and have shooting pain or electrical sensations in your arm.
Repetitive motions, such as typing, playing an instrument, or taking care of your garden can cause inflammation and carpal tunnel symptoms. Conditions such as pregnancy and diabetes can increase your risk of developing symptoms.
Your ulna and radius (the two bones in your forearm) joint with the carpal bones to form your wrist joint. While you can break any of these bones, you’re most likely to fracture the radius. Common causes of a broken wrist include falling onto an outstretched hand or a sudden, high impact.
Sprains occur when a ligament is overstretched or torn. Wrist sprains are common sports injuries because of the high risk of falling onto an outstretched hand or a sudden impact forcing the wrist to bend too far.
Hand Tendons Injuries
Each of your hands has multiple flexor tendons and extensor tendons that connect muscles to bones and allow you to bend and straighten your fingers and thumb.
While these fibrous bands of connective tissue are durable, repetitive wear-and-tear can cause tendon damage that severely restricts your ability to use your hands to complete everyday tasks.
Tendon damage in your hands can cause pain and tenderness and reduce your ability to bend or extend one or more of your fingers. This may require hand tendon repair surgery to correct the issue.
A cyst is a fluid-filled sac that may develop within the joints of the wrist or in the palm of the hand. The cysts tend to appear around the ligaments and tendons as well as the back of the wrist. These cysts might look disturbing, but they’re usually not painful. In many cases, ganglion cysts do not require treatment unless they are causing pain as they are otherwise harmless.
Trigger Finger Syndrome
Trigger finger is a condition caused by inflammation and enlargement of the tendons that pull the fingers towards the palm of the hand. Locking, catching, or popping sensations when you try to straighten your finger, are signs of the condition. Your finger might also stay in a curled or locked position all day.
Dupuytren’s disease develops when the fascia found beneath the skin of your hand thickens and tightens. Hard, visible knots, known as Dupuytren’s contractures, form in the palm of the hand and can interfere with your ability to bend or extend your fingers.
De Quervain’s Tendinosis
You have two major tendons that begin in your wrist and connect to your thumb, allowing motion and flexibility critical to your grasp. De Quervain’s tendinosis develops when these tendons, or the sheaths around them, become irritated or inflamed. The condition is painful and can limit the mobility and function of your thumb.
When should I see an orthopedic physician about hand, wrist, and elbow pain?
You use your hands, wrists, and elbows all the time, so it’s critical to get expert medical assessment and treatment when you have persistent pain that limits your ability to use your hands or arms.
For example, if your pain prevents you from bending or straightening your elbow or you’re not able to grasp your morning cup of coffee, you need medical attention. In fact, you shouldn’t even let your pain progress to the point that you can’t perform everyday tasks. Hand, wrist, or elbow pain or stiffness that persists for more than a few days should be evaluated by an expert.
What are the available elbow treatments?
The orthopedic surgeons at OrthoNeuro offer various elbow surgeries to repair elbow problems that don’t respond to noninvasive treatments. Whenever possible, the physicians use minimally invasive surgical techniques, such as arthroscopy.
Elbow arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure that allows your orthopedic surgeon to see inside your elbow and make repairs through just a few small incisions. The OrthoNeuro team uses elbow arthroscopy to remove or trim bone spurs or repair torn tendons and ligaments within the elbow – for example after a grade III elbow sprain. Your surgeon may recommend this procedure if your condition has not responded to non-surgical treatment options and pain and range of motion issues still persist.
UCL Repair (Tommy John Surgery)
At OrthoNeuro, the elbow specialists offer Tommy John surgery on an outpatient basis so that you are able to return home the same day as your procedure. During Tommy John surgery, your orthopedic surgery repairs a torn ulnar collateral ligament (UCL). They often take a piece of tendon from elsewhere in your body, such as the forearm, hamstring, or big toe, as a graft to reconnect the UCL.
What are the available hand and wrist treatments?
The OrthoNeuro team performs a wide range of hand and wrist surgeries to address various injuries and degenerative conditions. Depending on your needs, your hand and wrist surgeon might recommend:
During wrist arthroscopy, your wrist surgeon uses a small surgical camera and special surgical tools to treat chronic pain or loss of function in the wrist. They can repair damaged cartilage, ligaments, or bone spurs. The damage to the cartilage, ligaments, or bone spurs often results from previous injuries (such as repetitive sprains or a fracture) or arthritis and can limit day-to-day mobility.
Carpal tunnel release
During carpal tunnel release, your hand and wrist specialist makes a small incision in your transverse carpal ligament. The incision creates more room in your carpal tunnel for your median nerve. When the nerve isn’t compressed your symptoms subside and you regain normal function in your hands and forearms, provided you do not have permanent nerve damage.
The team at OrthoNeuro provide a comprehensive range of specialist hand surgeries, including:
- Dupuytren’s disease
- Arthroplasty (joint replacement) to treat severe cases of arthritis
- Surgical drainage or debridement
- Nerve repair
- Closed reduction-internal fixation
- Tendon repair
Call OrthoNeuro today or make an appointment online if you have persistent pain in your hand, wrist, or elbow that limits your movement or independence.
Related Services and Procedures
- Elbow Fracture
- Elbow Bursitis
- Elbow Popping
- Elbow Sprain Treatment
- Ulnar Neuritis
- Golfer & Tennis Elbow
- UCL Tear
- Hyperextended Elbow
- Elbow Arthroscopy
- UCL Repair (Tommy John Surgery)
Hand & Wrist
Hand, Wrist, and Elbow Specialists
You use your hands, wrists, and elbows all the time. Don’t let pain interfere with your quality of life or independence. Call OrthoNeuro today or make an appointment online if you have persistent pain in your hand, wrist, or elbow that limits your movement or independence.