FAQ Category: Elbow


I am in my 50’s and have dislocated my elbow on multiple occasions.  I have tried everything from physical therapy to bracing to avoiding the activities that I love.  Is there a better solution out there for me?

Depending on the direction and type of elbow dislocation that is occurring, there is a good chance that you would benefit from a radial head arthroplasty, or replacement.  There are several types of implants available and decent research to show good to excellent outcomes in most cases. However, this is […]


I am having difficulty regaining my range of motion after repair of an ulnar fracture and dislocated elbow. What can be done to help regain my range of motion?

There are many side-effects to the treatment of ulnar fracture with dislocation or subluxation, Contracture and stiffness, particularly with weeks of immobilization, can co-exist with instability and heterotropic ossification, and can impede concentric reduction. Methods available to treat excessive contracture or stiffness include an open capsular release and excision of […]


I have been wearing a static progressive splint on my elbow for three months and have only gained 25 degrees range of motion. I would like to gain at least 20 degrees more range but am discouraged as in the past two weeks my progress has been very slow. Is it possible to gain more range at this point?

Yes, it is possible to gain range of motion for up to a year after the injury. The largest gains will be seen in the first three months, but with proper use of your splint and a well-guided stretching program supervised by a physical or occupational therapist, you will continue […]


I recently dislocated my elbow and had to wear a splint for ten days. I am now out of the splint and my elbow is very stiff. My doctor recommended a dynamic turnbuckle splint to help regain my range of motion. What is this and are there other options?

A dynamic turnbuckle splint has a hinge at the elbow and a mechanism that allows some movement of the elbow while being stretched the rest of the time. These splints are worn for anywhere from six to 24 hours a day as they work by applying a low load prolonged […]


I have a fracture at the bottom of my humerus that hasn’t healed in six-months and likely isn’t going to heal. The surgeon calls this a “nonunion” fracture. I am being encouraged to consider having an elbow replacement. The other option is surgery to pin or wire the broken bones together in hopes that might help with healing. What do you recommend?

There was a recent article in a prominent orthopedic journal that focused on the past, present, and future of total elbow arthroplasty (TEA) or elbow replacement. The surgeons who wrote the article (from the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia had some information to offer that […]


My nephew is a young 40-something but already in need of an elbow replacement. Besides pitching ball for years, he has done construction for the last 20 years. Sounds like overuse and injuries has ruined the joint. My question is more of a worry/wonder because I had an elbow replacement about 10 years ago (I was considerably older than 40) and I can’t say it was a very good result. Not sure I would have done it if I had it to do over again. Should I say anything to him?

Joint replacement of hip, knee, and shoulder are commonplace now. Right behind those joints come ankle and elbow. Elbow implants have been around for 30 years. They were first designed for adults with rheumatoid arthritis. But over the years, as the implant materials and technology have changed and improved, younger, […]


I was very lucky to be able to watch my own surgery and listen to the two surgeons discuss my case. I had a rupture of the biceps tendon that pulled some of the cartilage around my shoulder socket away from the bone. They were able to reattach the tissue and hold it in place with what they called anchors. The thing that I was most surprised by was how long it took them to decide what to do once they saw all the details of my anatomy. I guess there were a few surprises that everything wasn’t exactly “normal” or expected. Does this happen very often or am I truly so unique?

Clearly, we have not come to the end of all that can be known about human anatomy. One example of new discoveries involves the very area you described: the biceps muscle of the upper arm. This particular muscle has two parts to its tendon: a long and short head. They […]


I had endoscopic surgery to release pressure on my elbow that was causing elbow pain and an electric shock sensation down my arm. The pain is better and the shocking is gone but it still hurts, especially when I bend my arm. If I sleep with my elbow bent at night, I wake up in the morning and can hardly function for an hour or two. Is there anything else that can be done?

Let’s review this condition first to better understand what is going on and what can be done about it. Cubital tunnel syndrome is a condition that affects the ulnar nerve at the elbow. The ulnar nerve passes through the cubital tunnel just behind the inside edge of the elbow. The […]


I’m supposed to have surgery for my elbow pain and hand numbness. The diagnosis is cubital tunnel syndrome. They are going to stick a needle into the area that has a tiny TV attached to it so the surgeon can see what’s going on in there. The plan is to cut any bands of tissue that might be pressing on or wrapped around the nerve. This poking around inside my body scares me. What do you think of it?

As you have probably been told, cubital tunnel syndrome is a condition that affects the ulnar nerve at the elbow. The ulnar nerve passes through the cubital tunnel just behind the inside edge of the elbow. The tunnel is formed by muscle, ligament, and bone. The symptoms are very similar […]


I see many movie stars who have BOTOX done on their faces. My doctor has recommended this as a treatment for my chronic tennis elbow. I thought BOTOX was to smooth out wrinkles and puff up lips. How does it help with tennis elbow?

Tennis elbow (also known as lateral epicondylitis) is a fairly common work- or recreational-related problem caused by repetitive motions (e.g., gripping, bending wrist back into extension). Sometimes the elbow feels stiff and won’t straighten out completely. Men and women are just as likely to develop symptoms of tenderness and pain […]


I work in a fish factory in Alaska. Half the women on my shift are out at least once or twice every week due to “tennis elbow.” How is this possible? No one plays tennis up here…we are too busy working! I think they are faking it to get a day off. What do you think?

Tennis elbow (also known as lateral epicondylitis) is a fairly common work- or recreational-related problem caused by repetitive motions (e.g., gripping, bending wrist back into extension). Overuse of the muscles and tendons of the forearm and elbow is the most common reason people develop tennis elbow. Repeating some types of […]


I am wondering if you can help me with something I don’t really understand. I’m having some pain, weakness, and numbness in the left forearm and hand. The surgeon says it’s either pronator syndrome or interosseous syndrome. More tests are being ordered. Should I have all these tests? Does it really make a difference?

There are several ways to look at this dilemma. On the one hand, because the treatment isn’t all that different for the two problems, a clear and accurate diagnosis may not be necessary. On the other hand, it’s always a good idea to know exactly what you are dealing with […]


Please give me a realistic understanding of what I might expect with a diagnosis of pronator syndrome. Will I get better? If so, how long will this likely take?

The median nerve innervates or supplies muscles of the forearm with messages needed for sensation and movement. Compression on the nerve can cause this condition known as pronator teres syndrome. The affected individual experiences mild to moderately painful symptoms along with numbness. Hand function may be impaired but disability from […]


My husband is a construction worker with a good paying job and no other skills. So his job is vital to our family support. He has been off for three months now due to a torn biceps tendon. After surgery, he’s been in physical therapy to regain his strength needed for the job. The question I have is this — X-rays show he has some bone forming inside the muscle where they reattached the tendon to the bone. Will this add or subtract to his strength? I guess I’m worried that this will cause further problems.

Ruptures of the biceps tendon at the elbow can be very disabling and often require surgical repair or reconstruction. Studies over the last 30 years (since the mid-1980s) have given us enough data to see long-term results of both conservative (nonoperative) care and surgical management. And over those 30 years […]


I am an anatomy instructor in my first teaching year looking for any information you may have on biceps tendon tears. My hope is to provide a lecture that covers both the anatomy with some information on what happens during and after tendon injuries. What can you recommend?

There is a recent review of distal biceps tendon ruptures that may be of interest to you. In this article, hand surgeons from the University of Pittsburg Department of Upper Extremity Reconstructive Surgery provide an update on this problem. The “new news” about distal biceps tendon injuries has come about […]


I am a wrestling coach at a mid-sized high school (graduating class of 300 seniors). Every year it seems one or two of my players dislocates his elbow. The football coach says this is two too many and I must be doing something wrong in my coaching. It’s light-hearted teasing but it does make me wonder. Is this typical? What are other wrestling coaches telling you?

A recent study of acute sport-related elbow dislocations may offer some information useful to you. Hand surgeons from the hospital for Special Surgery in New York City reviewed 62 You Tube videos posted of this type of injury. They were able to analyze the videos and identify patterns and mechanisms […]


I was recently diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. It seems to have settled in my right elbow. The doctor wants me to start what she calls “aggressive” therapy taking new medications. The meds are called DMARD. I don’t really want to take drugs. Isn’t there a more natural way to deal with this problem?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic, or long-term, inflammatory form of arthritis. RA is considered an autoimmune disease, in which your immune system attacks the tissues of your own body. In RA, the immune system mostly attacks tissues in the joints, but it can also affect other organs of your […]


I have a very persistent case of tennis elbow — probably from my work at a meat packing plant. I’ve tried a couple of steroid injections. They helped for about a week and then the pain started again. I’ve heard there’s a new blood injection treatment I could try but that it is more painful than the steroid injections. What can you tell me about this?

Lateral epicondylitis, more often referred to as “tennis elbow,” is a fairly common problem in the work place. Workers with strenuous jobs in various industries are often affected. And since an episode of lateral epicondylitis can last six months to two years, effective treatment is a must to keep workers […]