Elbow/Wrist Pain and Injuries
The elbow joint is made up of the lower end of the upper arm bone, or humerus, and the upper ends of the two bones (the radius and the ulna) of the forearm. With your palm facing forward, the radius is on the outside of the forearm (on the thumb side) and the ulna is on the inside (or the ‘pinky’ side). At the place where they meet at the elbow joint, these bones are lined with a smooth type of cartilage which allows the bones to glide smoothly over one another during elbow motion.
The hand and wrist joint are made up of the following bone groups: the phalangeal bones of the fingers, the metacarpal bones of the hand, the carpal wrist bones, and the ends of each of the forearm bones which are called the radius and ulna.
Elbow and Wrist Injuries/Conditions
The types of conditions most commonly affecting the elbow and wrist are overuse injuries. Tendonitis, which can occur in the elbow and wrist, is a frequent complaint. This condition can result from repetitive motion, like continually turning the wrist or hand gripping. Tendonitis is an inflammation of a tendon (connects muscle to bone) or bursa (a small, fluid-filled sac that acts as a cushion between bone and other moving parts).
The two most common types of tendonitis include: lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow) which is an inflammation of the tendon on the side of the elbow away from the body; and medial epicondylitis (golfer’s elbow) which affects the side of the elbow that is toward the body. And, no surprise, these conditions occur more often as we get older.
Other types of injuries to the elbow and wrist include fractures, dislocations and arthritis.
About Elbow/Wrist Bracing
Elbow and wrist braces are used for a variety of purposes including injuries to the hand and thumb.
Elbow braces, sleeves and straps
Elbow bracing is designed to apply pressure to the muscles of the forearm, taking pressure of off the injured tendon. Wear them while working or playing sports, usually up to six weeks while the tendon recovers. These types of elbow supports are typically made of fabric, like neoprene, and sometimes plastic for added support. Elbow bracing should not be used as a sole means of treatment, but should supplement muscular stretching and strengthening exercises.
These are worn to support or immobilize the wrist, and to take stress off of the tendons. Wrist braces are commonly used for chronic conditions like arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome or tendinitis. The level of flexibility of the brace is determined by the injury or condition. Braces that immobilize the wrist are typically more rigid and prevent the wrist from twisting or bending.
Thumb braces, or spicas, are used when tendinitis affects the thumb side of the wrist. These braces cover the wrist, bottom of the hand and the thumb joint.
These types of braces are worn post operatively or post injury, and are designed to immobilize and control range of motion while the joint recovers. The type of brace used is dependent upon physician protocols and indications. To find out more about elbow and wrist braces, go to Breg Elbow/Wrist Braces
If you and your doctor have decided surgery is the best treatment for you, your options may include surgery to repair or remove damaged tissue, fusion of bones or ankle replacement surgery.
Other non-surgical options to help manage pain and joint instability: cold therapy and rehabilitative exercises. Cold Therapy: Ranging from simple ice packs to motorized cold therapy (an insulated cooler with a pump and pads that deliver cold to specific joints), your doctor may suggest using cold therapy to reduce pain and swelling of an injured joint. All cold therapy, including ice, can be cold enough to damage your skin, so regardless of what kind of cold therapy you use, follow your doctor’s instructions.
Exercises for Joint Rehabilitation: Your doctor may recommend exercises to help enhance your recovery. This may include exercises for stretching to gradually increase range of motion, and strengthening to regain joint function.