Orthopaedics

Hyperextended Elbow – What Does it Mean?

Before discussing what a hyperextended elbow is, let us see what hyperextension means. Extending anything beyond its normal range is what is known as hyperextension. Under normal circumstances, the human elbow extends up to 140 degrees without any harm being caused to it. When extended beyond this range, which of course happens involuntarily while playing contact sports like football, the pain is immense.

Hyperextended Elbow

Hyperextension of the elbow is a traumatic injury which causes the elbow joint to inflame and cause severe pain. When the elbow is extended beyond its normal limit, the ligaments in the joint are also overly stretched causing the elbow to go stiff and swell. It is the hyperextension of the ligaments which in fact, causes the pain.

Apart from sports, a fall or a direct injury to the elbow, where it is forced to bend backwards leads to this problem.

The Pain

As mentioned above, this traumatic injury of the elbow is mostly caused during contact sports like football and during other sports like tennis, swimming or bowling where an involuntary large force extends the elbow beyond its usual 140 degrees. The pain caused because of this is so debilitating that not only playing the sport but, even performing day-to-day activities becomes very tough.

  • One of the three elbow bones, which is the humerus can even get bruised when hyperextended, which will cause the pain to sustain causing severe discomfort when the elbow is tried to be moved.
  • Athletes can also develop chronic inflammation because of their repetitive involvement in activities that can cause the elbow to hyperextend causing the ligaments to weaken and even get torn after some time.

Treatment

As mentioned above, the pain caused by a hyperextended elbow is immense. So, it is important to alleviate the pain first. This can be done with the help of over-the-counter analgesics like ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

  • To keep the selling down, applying ice packs over the injured elbow is recommended.
  • Another quintessential thing to do is to immobilize the injured elbow with a sling until the pain subsides considerably. Even if the sling is removed, the elbow must be taped so that it is not extended beyond a point where it starts to pain.
  • Physical therapy is also necessary to strengthen the muscles in the elbow region.
  • It can take either a few days or up to four weeks depending on the severity of the injury for the elbow to heal.

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