Elbow Injury Treatment: Recover Without Surgery

Elbow injury treatments such as physical therapy and immobilization devices are a great way to recover from elbow pain without needing surgery.

An elbow injury can take on different forms. Some of these feel like a dull throbbing ache, others feel like a stiff joint, while some often deliver a sharp and piercing pain through your arm down to your hand.

Having elbow injuries can make it significantly more challenging to function normally and attend to your daily routine. Most people tend to suffer from injuries to the elbow due to repeated movements that irritate the connective tissue or tendons over time. And as it gets progressively worse, one may think that a nerve-wracking elbow surgery may have to be the last treatment resort.

This isn’t always the case. Many people who experience elbow injuries or fractures don’t need surgery to be treated. Orthopedic doctors typically recommend immobilizing the affected joint and arm as it gradually heals, which can take at least one to six months, depending on the extent and gravity of the injury.

In a nutshell, this means that there are plenty of elbow pain treatments that you can opt for as an alternative to surgery. Read on as we thoroughly discuss some of these treatments and what you can typically expect in such situations.

Using Immobilization Devices

Most doctors would advise using an immobilization device to stabilize your elbow as it undergoes a natural healing process. These devices are usually made of fiberglass or plaster and provide support and comfort for your arm. In the same way, it also helps prevent you from placing unnecessary strain or weight on the affected area, which can only result in increased pain. Here are some examples of the most common immobilization devices.

Casts. Your doctor may advise you to immobilize your arm for three weeks in a plaster cast, especially if you have suffered a fracture to the olecranon – the elbow’s bony tip. For this, doctors will apply malleable, soft plaster to your arm to create a cast. As it dries, it eventually hardens, protecting the injured area as it naturally heals while preventing you from moving your elbow unnecessarily.

Splints. A splint is a stiff device kept intact by soft straps while conforming to your arm shape. If you are suffering from a fractured olecranon or distal humerus, your doctor will advise using a splint. This device is typically worn for roughly one to three weeks; however, it can be longer if the fracture is more serious.

Slings. A sling is a fabric device that can flexibly loop around your back or neck while holding your arm bent in front of your chest. Many slings tend to have Velcro straps that make it convenient to adjust your arm’s position, allowing it to stabilize while staying comfortable.

A young woman hold her elbow

Doing Physical Therapy

A great example of elbow pain treatment is physical therapy. Physical therapy aids in the faster healing of an elbow injury compared to using mere immobilization devices. With physical therapy, even the most minimal hand movements increase the flow of blood throughout the arm, delivering more nutrients and oxygen to the injured parts and, in turn, speeding up the process of healing. Apart from that, physical therapy can also aid with other problems and serve as a means of back pain exercises, helping to ease different types of back pains.

Most doctors even recommend physical therapy for tendonitis. Tendonitis refers to the irritation or inflammation of a tendon usually caused by minor, repetitive impacts on the injured area or from a more severe and sudden injury. A tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) is an example of tendonitis.

What is Tennis Elbow?

A tennis elbow is the swelling of tendons that causes pain to the arm and elbow. It is painful when your elbow’s tendons are overloaded, mainly due to repetitive arm and wrist motions. While this is common for athletes who tend to experience excessive strain, it can happen to other people.

The good news about tennis elbows is that they will usually heal independently. However, physical therapy may prove to be a great help to stretch and strengthen your muscles, thus, quickening the pace of your healing process. It has been proven that eccentric strengthening is effective for issues with chronic tendons, especially with manual therapy.

Call Mid-County Physical Therapy

Mid-County Physical Therapy would be happy to help you or a loved one recover from an elbow injury. Surgery is not always necessary, and we hope you will consider our cost-effective physical therapy services as an alternative. Call us for more information regarding our offerings.

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