Treatments & Conditions | Hand Microsurgery in Erie, PA

Elbow Injuries & Conditions | Hand Microsurgery in Erie, PA

Hand Microsurgery has specialized orthopaedic surgeons and physicians to treat elbow injuries and conditions as well as other upper extremity injuries. The elbow contains extensor muscles, which allow you to straighten your fingers and rotate your lower arm or wrist. A tendon attaches these extensor muscles to your elbow, where they reach out to your wrist and fingers. Repetitive use or an injury can cause the tendon tissue to become inflamed or irritated. The nerves around the tendon make moving your elbow painful.

Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow occurs when tissue attaching muscle to the bone becomes irritated, and causes an inflammation around the outer side of the elbow. Playing a racket sport can cause tennis elbow as well as any action that extends your wrist or rotates your forearm. The tissue may become inflamed more easily with age.

A few common symptoms of tennis elbow include:

  • Pain on the outer side of the elbow and down the forearm
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Warm to touch

The experienced physicians at Hand Microsurgery can usually diagnose tennis elbow from your symptoms and by simply looking at and feeling your elbow. At times, an x-ray might need to be ordered to be sure the bone is not diseased or fractured.

Elbow Bursitis

Bursae are thin sacs throughout the body that act as cushions between bones and soft tissues. If the bursae become irritated or inflamed, more fluid will accumulate and elbow bursitis will develop. A few of the main reasons elbow bursitis can occur include trauma, prolonged pressure, infection, or other medical conditionsSwelling is often the first symptom. The skin on the back of the elbow is loose, which means that a small amount of swelling may not be noticed right away. If the bursitis is infected, the skin becomes red and warm. If the infection is not treated right away, it may spread to other parts of the arm or move into the bloodstream which can cause serious illness. 

Osteoarthritis of the Elbow

Osteoarthritis of the elbow occurs when the cartilage surface of the elbow is damaged or becomes worn. This can happen because of a previous injury or condition. It may also be the result of degeneration of the joint cartilage from the natural aging process. The elbow is one of the least affected joints because of its well matched joint surfaces and strong stabilizing ligaments. As a result, the elbow joint can tolerate large forces without becoming unstable. One of our specialized physicians can usually diagnose osteoarthritis of the elbow based on symptoms and standard x-rays. Most patients who are diagnosed with elbow osteoarthritis have a history of injury to the elbow, such as a fracture that involved the surface of the joint, or an elbow dislocation.

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

Cubital tunnel syndrome is a set of symptoms that may occur if the ulnar nerve in your elbow gets pinched. This may happen if you bend or lean on your elbows often. Many other things can cause the ulnar nerve to get pinched such as holding a phone to your ear for a long time, sleeping with arms tightly bent, a sudden elbow injury, or a past elbow fracture. Symptoms can be minor at first but may worsen over time. Common symptoms include:

Rest, medication, and changes in how you do various tasks can help ease the pain. One of our physicians at Hand Microsurgery will examine your hand and elbow and ask about your daily tasks in order to diagnose. They may also request to have some tests done such as x-rays. Most treatment plans for cubital tunnel syndrome begin with changing your actions that may have originally caused the problem.

Elbow Dislocation

When the joint surfaces of an elbow are separated, the elbow is dislocated. In a complete elbow dislocation, the joint surfaces are completely separated. In a partial dislocation, the joint surfaces are only partially separated. Elbow dislocations are not common and typically occur when a person falls onto an outstretched hand. When the hand hits the ground, the force is sent to the elbow, usually with a twisting motion. This can drive and rotate the elbow out of its socket.

Elbow Fractures

When you bend your elbow, you can easily feel its "tip," a bony prominence that extends from one of the lower arm bones. This tip is positioned directly under the skin of the elbow, without much protection from muscles or other soft tissues. It can easily break if you experience a direct blow to the elbow or fall on a bent elbow. There are many types of elbow fractures.


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