A healthy, fully functioning elbow is vital for movement of your arm, wrist and hand. Your elbow joint is formed by three bones: the humerus of the upper arm and the radius & ulna of the lower arm. It is capable of hinge-like movement (bending and straightening of the forearm) and also allows forearm rotation.
Three major ligaments help to stabilise your elbow. If it is forcefully dislocated these ligaments can be torn resulting in a loose elbow joint. Direct trauma to your elbow can fracture the joint and damage nerve and blood supplies. Elbow injuries can also occur if indirect force is applied via your wrist, hand or shoulder.
There are several important muscle tendons attached to your elbow. The biceps and triceps tendons help to bend and straighten the forearm. It is possible for the biceps tendon to rupture (eg when lifting a heavy object) causing pain, weak flexion and deformity. The wrist extensor and wrist flexor tendons help to straighten and bend the wrist (and fingers). These tendons are particularly prone to inflammation at the elbow as a result of repetitive movements (golfers and tennis elbow).
Each of the nerves that travel down the arm towards the hand must first pass over the elbow via its own tunnel. These nerves (named the radial, ulnar and median) can become irritated or damage due to excess stretching and pressure. The ulnar nerve is particularly vulnerable. This is because, as it crosses the elbow the ulnar runs through a narrow space (cubital tunnel) with little surface protection. Damage to the ulnar nerve gives a pattern of pain, numbness and weakness in a particular area of the arm and hand.
Problems affecting the elbow include:
- Ulnar nerve compression
- Cubital tunnel syndrome
- Fractures of the radial head
- Fractures of the distal humerus
- Olecranon bursitis
- Golfers elbow
- Tennis elbow
- Osteochondritis Dissecans
- Biceps tendon tear
Elbow stiffness, instability and pain can interfere with every day activities such as eating, dressing and writing. Your elbow must be stable and pain-free to allow full use of your hand.
As an upper limb specialist, Dr Benjamin Hope will carefully assess your elbow and arm function. He has considerable expertise in the following procedures.
– Biceps reconstruction tendon tear at the Elbow »
– Biceps reconstruction tendon tear at the Shoulder »
– Elbow arthroscopy »
– Internal fixation of the arm/elbow/forearm/finger fractures »
– Manipulation of wrist, forearm, elbow fractures
– Medial epicondylectomy & ulnar nerve release »
– Nerve repair »
– Skin graft or flap procedure
– Total elbow replacement »