The Elbow

Basic anatomy

The elbow is an unusual joint in that it involves articulation between three bones.

The humerus of the upper arm and the ulna and radius of the forearm. Not only does flexion and extension occur but also pronation and supination of the forearm allowing the hand to be turned palm down and palm up.

The elbow is prone to injury not just of the bones and their articular surfaces but the muscular attachments around the joint as well. This may be caused the nature of our jobs and repetitive movements involved as well as the effects of age or specific injury.

Common problems

I treat lots of Elbow problems. Where possible I always try and treat the problem without surgery. Of the many conditions which may affect the elbow the following are some of the more frequent conditions which I encounter.

Tennis elbow and Golfer's elbow

This is an inflammatory condition of the tendon where it meets the prominent bone on either the outside (tennis) or inside (golfer's) part of the elbow.

Extremely common in both men and women aged 40 – 60 years. Not necessarily related to one's occupation, hobbies or sports though usually affects all three. Initial treatment usually involves a cortisone injection which may alleviate the symptoms. In more persistent cases surgery can be considered.

Elbow arthritis

Replacing the elbow joint is possible in the more extreme forms of arthritis but is best avoided in the younger individual. I will always try other operations to remove fragmented or protruding bone before considering the option to replace the joint.

Ulnar nerve entrapment

This condition causes tingling and numbness in the lttle and ring fingers of the hand when the nerve becomes trapped in its course around the inside aspect of the elbow. Release of the nerve at this point is usually successful in restoring feeling and power to the hand.

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