Question:I hurt my elbow about six months ago. Even though I have full motion, there's still a lot of pain and stiffness. What could be causing this?
Answer:The location and type of injury you had may be clues to the possible cause of your symptoms. A full history and exam would be helpful in identifying what's going on.
Nerve damage is always a possibility with elbow injuries. The ulnar nerve is very close to the surface and often involved with trauma to the elbow. In fact, recent studies have shown that dysfunction of the ulnar nerve is a major part of ongoing elbow problems.
Pain and stiffness are typical. But numbness, tingling, loss of sensation, muscle atrophy, and weakness are also possible symptoms. If you were seen by a doctor or therapist for care of your elbow, it may be a good idea to go back for a follow-up appointment.
It's best not to let these kinds of symptoms go too long. Early diagnosis and intervention may have the best result. Management with conservative care can help the nerve heal. Waiting too long can result in chronic nerve dysfunction. At that point, surgery may be needed to take pressure off the nerve.Robert Shin, MD, and David Ring, MD. The Ulnar Nerve in Elbow Trauma. In Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. May 2007. Vol. 89. No. 5. Pp. 1108-1116.
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