Elbow Pain, Wrist Pain, Hand Pain
Elbow pain can come from a variety of sources, but typically occurs when the soft tissues become irritated due to an overuse of the elbow joint from repetitive activities or improper loading.
The elbow actually has quite a few different joints that move in very unique ways. The same bones (radius and ulna) that make up the elbow also form the wrist and play a key role in the movements of the hands. Most of the muscles that make your wrist and fingers move are actually located in the forearm.
Irritation of the soft tissues can cause problems with lifting, gripping, and twisting activities.
About Sprain / Strain
Sprains and strains are very common in the hand, wrist and elbow. Sprains refer to injuries of the ligaments (connect bone to bone) and strains refer to injuries of the muscles or tendons (connect muscle to bone). Sprains and strains occur from quick over-stretching of the tissues, sometimes under contraction, causing micro-tearing and subsequent injury. Swelling begins as part of the inflammation process, causing pain and stiffness.
What is Tennis Elbow?
Tennis elbow is a common term for lateral epicondylitis (now epicondylalgia). You don’t even have to play tennis to develop this condition, and it actually happens frequently with repetitive tasks or improper loading of the wrist and elbow joints, as the muscles that extend your wrist and fingers actually attach to the bony outside of your elbow.
Typically with tennis elbow, severe tenderness will be present around the bony area on the outside of the elbow. This can cause pain with gripping objects, lifting objects, twisting of the forearm, and more.
What is Golfer’s Elbow?
Golfer’s elbow is a general term for medial epicondylitis (now epicondylalgia). This is similar to tennis elbow, except that it is on the inside bony area of the elbow. The factors that result in tennis elbow are similar to those causing golfer’s elbow – overuse or improper loading of the muscles that flex your wrist and fingers. These muscle tendons attach to the inside elbow bony area.
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a very common condition and is becoming more frequent. The carpal tunnel is a narrow tunnel in the wrist where major arteries and nerves pass from the forearm into the wrist. One of the primary nerves that pass through this area is the median nerve. When the ligaments around the carpal tunnel become tight, pressure is applied to the median nerve causing pain, numbness or tingling, and even loss of function to the thumb and first two fingers of the hand.
One of the primary causes of CTS is thought to be prolonged seated posture, repetitive activities like typing, or other improper loading of the hand, wrist, or forearm. Those at risk of developing CTS or carpal tunnel-like-symptoms may also have contributions from the neck, shoulder or elbow.
About Nerve Injuries
There are many nerves traveling along the elbow, forearm, wrist and hand. With injuries to the hand, wrist, forearm or elbow, nerve damage can result. Symptoms can range from mild pain, numbness, or tingling to loss of muscle function or paralysis in severe cases.
Some sources of nerve pain don’t necessarily occur in the hand, wrist, forearm, or elbow. For example, an irritation of a nerve root in your neck can result in symptoms in these areas without any symptoms in the neck.
About Wrist Fractures
Fractures in the wrist and forearm area are common with falls on an outstretched arm, as the tendency is to protect yourself while falling. Common fractures occur in the bones of the forearm near the wrist called the radius and ulna.
Two common fractures are called Colles’ fracture and Smith’s fracture. Colles’ fractures typically occur from falls onto an outstretched hand and Smith’s fractures occur from falling backward onto an outstretched hand. Another common fracture of the wrist and hand is the scaphoid fracture, which is a small bone in the hand at the base of your thumb. These can be more difficult to heal due to poor circulation to the bone itself.
About Tendon Repair & Post-Surgery Rehab
Common surgeries in the elbow, wrist and hand involve repair of the tendons and ligaments in these areas. Depending on the type and extent of your surgery, your physician will recommend physiotherapy to help you recover completely from your surgical procedure. Swelling is very common in these areas after surgery and can become quite stiff leading to loss of range of motion, gripping, dexterity, and normal functioning of the fingers, hand, wrist or elbow.