What Should I Do When I
Have An Elbow Injury?


Elbow injuries are a common occurrence in sports and other physical activities. There are many different types of elbow injury, but the most commonly seen is an “overuse” injury, meaning that it develops from repetitive movements without adequate recovery time between each one. The simplest treatment for this type of elbow injury is to modify your activity level or take a break from engaging in that particular sport until you can fully recover. For athletes who cannot afford to miss any games, there are some ways to protect their elbows while still playing:

    • Wear protective gear like arm pads during high contact periods (ex.: when serving). This will help prevent sprains if they fall on their arms outstretched; plus it provides cushioning against injury.
    • Use arm guards when fielding balls, especially during the sliding process or if they are going for a catch while the other team is coming in at them aggressively.
    • Strengthen their arms with appropriate exercises like lifting weights so that they can better withstand muscle pulls and sprains without injuring themselves.
    • Shape up their upper body by doing pushups, pull ups, crunches to improve grip strength and build lean belly muscles which will help support elbow joints more effectively. Avoid excessive weight gain because this could lead to excess strain on elbows as well as back pain from slouching over due to increased torso pressure on discs between vertebrae).
    • Stretch before high contact sports periods (ex.: warmup) to help prevent injury.
    • If they are constantly experiencing pain at the outer elbow or on their wrist, consult a doctor and get an MRI scan done because this could be symptomatic of something more serious like tennis elbow or carpal tunnel syndrome.

Elbow injuries can happen suddenly during play if you land wrong or overextend your arm, but most often it develops from repetitive movements without adequate recovery time between each one.


Broken Elbow Symptoms

If any of the following symptoms appear on your elbow, you may have a fracture or another injury that requires medical attention.


    • Swelling in the area around your elbow or just above or below it
    • Your elbow, or the areas around your elbow, may be deformed
    • Discoloration of your elbow, such as bruising or redness
    • You’re having trouble moving your elbow through its full range of motion
    • Flexion and extension: You should be able to bend your elbow to the point where your fingertips can touch your shoulder. You should also be able to fully extend your arm
    • Inward and outward rotation: You should be able to rotate your hand outward so that your palm faces the ceiling while holding your arm at your side with your elbow flexed (bent) at 90°. You should be able to rotate your hand inward so that your palm faces the floor in this position.
    • Your forearm, hand, or fingers may feel numb, have decreased sensation, or be cool.
    • Your elbow is crossed by three major nerves: the median, radial, and ulnar nerves. These nerves may be damaged if you suffer a serious injury.
    • Your elbow is also home to a number of blood vessels. When trauma or swelling occurs, these vital vessels may be injured or compressed.
    • After a traumatic injury, a cut or open wound on the elbow.
    • After an elbow injury, there is a lot of pain.
    • A “tight sensation” in the elbow or forearm area


The elbow is a complex joint with many important structures and nerves. It’s vital to take care of your joints by eating well, sleeping enough, staying active, and avoiding injury. If you have any symptoms that worry you or seem unusual for an overuse injury like this one (especially if they worsen), seek medical attention right away!

Are You Looking for Non-Surgical
Relief from an Elbow Injury?


Dr. Chen sees patients at Saint Francis Memorial Hospital Center for Sports Medicine in Walnut Creek, California. He is a board certified Pediatrician and Sports Medicine Doctor that specializes in the non-operative medical treatment of a wide variety of various musculoskeletal conditions.  Dr. Chen graduated from St. George’s University School of Medicine and went on to complete Pediatric residency training at the University of Medicine and Dentistry in New Jersey (Rutgers), then went on to fellowship training in Sports Medicine at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, one of the perennially top ranked children’s hospitals in the nation. There he provided sideline coverage for NCAA Division I athletics at the University of Cincinnati and Miami University (OH). Since graduating, Dr. Chen has continued his love of sports coverage by volunteering for the San Francisco Marathon, the San Francisco Giant Race, and as the team physician for Northgate High School in Walnut Creek. Being a part of The Center for Sports Medicine allows Dr. Chen quick access to a multidisciplinary team of orthopedic surgeons, podiatrists, physiatrists, and physical therapists to return you to your highest functional level quickly and safely. Click here to contact us for your next appointment!

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