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Best Ways to Treat Hyperextended Elbow Pain

by Patty Weasler, RN June 17, 2020 0 Comments

Woman Fasten Elbow Brace

Hyperextended elbow treatment can start at home with effective yet inexpensive options like rest and ice. Sometimes when the injury is too severe patients will need medical treatment. In this article, we cover your options for home care, medical treatment, and surgery. Read on to learn more about each one and how it can help get you better, faster.

Home Care

Treating a hyperextension injury starts with home care. There are multiple treatment options that you can do both inexpensively and quickly. Take a look at them below.

  • RICE Method

    This process encourages healing by giving your body time to rest and minimizes pain. Below we go through each RICE step in full detail.

    Rest

    Resting your elbow after a hyperextension prevents further damage and gives your body time to heal the injury. During those first few days after your injury avoid bending your elbow as much as you can.

    Ice

    Ice reduces inflammation and pain. Cold therapy constricts blood vessels which lessens blood flow to the area and swelling. It also interrupts the pain signal, providing pain relief. Use an ice pack or even submerge your elbow in cold water. Keep the ice on for 20 minutes and then give yourself a break. 

    Compression and Support

    Similar to how an elastic bandage works, an elbow brace or sleeve will support the hyperextended elbow and reduce the likelihood of swelling. An elbow brace is better at restricting movement, whereas an elbow sleeve provides better uniform compression.

    Elevation

    Elevating your elbow hyperextension injury reduces swelling in the area by limiting the blood flow and prevents fluids from pooling in the joint. With less swelling, you’ll also have less pain. Try laying down with your elbow propped up on a pillow or two.

  • Stretches and Exercises

    Once the pain and swelling have subsided stretching and exercise are a great way to rehabilitate your elbow. Stretching will encourage the return of your normal range of motion and exercises will strengthen the surrounding muscles. Making a physical therapy appointment may be helpful for some people to get on the right track to recovery.

  • Pain Relief Medication

    Over-the-counter pain relief medications like ibuprofen work to reduce inflammation and pain. They tend to be inexpensive and easily available, making it a great option for home treatment. Pair pain relief medication with other treatments like RICE and physical therapy to best treat elbow hyperextension.

  • Taping

    Taping is a home treatment that can prevent hyperextension while exercising. Athletic tape is wrapped around the elbow, which supports the strained ligaments during movement. Here is a guide on how to tape your elbow after a hyperextension injury.

    Step 1:

    With your arm slightly bent and forearm muscles contracted apply two anchor pieces. One piece of tape should wrap around the middle of the forearm and the second piece should wrap around the middle of the bicep. Don’t apply it too tightly.

    Step 2:

    Apply four to six pieces of tape from the forearm anchor to the bicep anchor tape. The pieces should be placed so that they cross over each other forming an X.

    Step 3:

    Secure the long pieces of tape with another anchor piece over the bicep and forearm.

Medical Treatment

Sometimes home treatment isn’t enough for an elbow hyperextension injury. The guidance and treatment from a physical therapist and doctor can help you determine the exact treatment necessary for your elbow.

  • Physical Therapy

    A physical therapist is professionally trained to treat all sorts of injuries including elbow hyperextension. They will first evaluate your injury and guide you through exercises and stretches. Your physical therapist will also provide you with plenty of education on how to prevent further injury and ways to manage your hyperextension at home. After your appointment is over you will be instructed on when to make a return appointment.

  • Surgery

    Surgery for a hyperextended elbow isn’t usually necessary and is typically only done when there is damage to the ligaments, nerves, bones, and soft tissue. During the surgery, the doctor may remove damaged tissue and repair the elbow’s stability.

    Surgery can be performed either arthroscopically or through open surgery. Arthroscopic surgery is less invasive, has a shorter recovery time, and less potential complications. Open surgery requires a larger incision site but may give the surgeon a better view of the injury. Either surgical option usually doesn’t require an overnight stay in the hospital and can be successful.

Prevention

Preventing a hyperextended elbow is really the best treatment plan. Prevention is best done by staying healthy and using proper body mechanics when moving and playing sports. Check out our other tips below.

  • Exercise to strengthen arm muscles
  • Avoid sports like football, wrestling, weightlifting, and boxing
  • Stretch regularly
  • Use elbow braces when doing activities that strain the elbow

When to See a Doctor

When the actual hyperextension injury occurs you might hear a popping sound that is followed by instant pain. Take steps to immobilize your elbow and apply the RICE method. However, that may not be enough. You should see a doctor if you also have any of the following symptoms:

  • Elbow deformity
  • Loss of strength in your hand or arm
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Elbow deformity
  • Poor blood circulation in your hand

Safe Treatment for an Elbow Hyperextension Injury

Elbow hyperextension is an injury that happens when the elbow is pushed beyond its natural range of motion. The ligaments can become damaged causing pain and swelling. Home treatment is a safe option for mild injuries and more severe injuries may need medical treatment or even surgery. It’s always best to consult your doctor for a diagnosis and to determine the best treatment plan for your injury.

Sources:

https://www.floridaortho.com/specialties/elbow/hyperextension-injury-of-the-elbow/

https://www.sportsinjuryclinic.net/sport-injuries/elbow-pain/acute-elbow-injuries/elbow-hyperextension

https://www.dignityhealth.org/north-state/services/orthopedics/orthopedic-surgery-procedures/elbow-surgery/elbow-surgery-for-hyperextension

SHOP HYPEREXTENDED ELBOW

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Patty Weasler, RN
Patty Weasler, RN

Patty Weasler is a freelance health writer and nurse. She is certified in critical care nursing and has been practicing for over 10 years. Patty lives in Milwaukee, WI with her husband and three children. She enjoys spending her time with family and educating people about their health.



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