Orthopaedics

Posterior Impingement Syndrome – Elbow Impingement

Posterior

impingement syndrome

or posterior elbow impingement is the resultant of soft tissue compression (for instance, the cartilage) in or at the back of the elbow joint. The two bones in the elbow joint, viz. the ulna and the humerus are kept from rubbing against each other by cartilage in the elbow joint. This cartilage is usually compressed when the elbow straightens. But if the compressive forces are in excess, the cartilage can be inflamed and lead to elbow impingement.

Causes of Posterior Impingement Syndrome:

As mentioned above, excessive compressive forces on the cartilage when the elbow is straightened leads to this condition. These forces if repetitive can hyper extend the elbow and these forces are usually the resultant of overuse; for instance activities like throwing.

  • While throwing (sports like javelin, baseball and cricket involve a lot of throwing), if athletes maintain a low arm, there is a lot of strain on the elbow joint which causes it to hyper extend leading to impingement.
  • People who are into martial arts are also at a risk of developing this condition.
  • A direct collision to the elbow (possible in some contact sports) can also lead to this condition.

Signs and Symptoms:

The following are the signs and symptoms-

  • worsening pain at the elbow’s back when hyper extended
  • an increase in pain when the elbow is firmly pressed
  • morning stiffness and pain, especially after performing activities using the injured hand the previous day
  • worsening pain that would make performing an activity using the injured hand very difficult
  • elbow movement is hampered
  • elbow cannot be straightened owing to the pain and stiffness

If the cause for the condition is overuse, then the symptoms are gradual and take some time to develop.

Treatment:

Physiotherapy is the best form of treatment for this syndrome. If patients fully commit to their physiotherapy program, the time taken for healing can be reduced considerably.

  • Any kind of activity that would place stress and strain on the elbow and cause it to hyper extend should be avoided completely. If they are not avoided, there is a chance for the problem to become chronic.
  • Physiotherapy for posterior

    impingement syndrome

    consists of stretches, heat or ice therapy, bracing, using anti-inflammatory devices, correction of throwing techniques, taping etc.

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