All About Elbow Sprains
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1) What is an Elbow Sprain?
Getting a sprained elbow can be very painful. For those who have experienced it, you probably know the extreme pain that is associated with it. You also know the weeks that you were incapable of moving your arm or winced any time pressure was applied to it. However, do you know what happened to our elbow to make it so painful?
Many people do not understand what a sprain is. In fact a lot of people will refer to a sprain as a fracture. This is very wrong. In a fracture, the bone cracks whereas in sprained elbow, the damage is done to the ligaments. The ligaments, which are the connective tissues that hold the bones in the arm together, get torn either fully or partially.
The tearing of these ligaments is an elbow sprain. Elbow sprains are usually categorized into 3 grades. The grades vary according to the severity of the sprain. For instance, the third grade has sprains that include the ligament tissues being torn completely. This leads to instances where your arm is fully immobile and you lack any control. The pain is usually intense. As for the second grade, the sprain is less severe and the ligament tissues are only partially torn. You can manage to move your arm but only slightly. The first and the last grade is very mild sprain that can even be treated by an ice pack only. This includes the ligament getting torn microscopically. This means that the damage is little and may not cause much problem.
2) Who Sprains an Elbow?
Sprained elbows are very common among the elderly. This is because as you get older, your tissues also get less elastic and tear more easily. However, young children often get sprained elbows, too. This is mostly due to the rough games they play.
Sprained elbows are also very common among athletes and lovers of sports. If you fall on your outstretched arm or receive a heavy blow on your elbow, you are most likely to get a sprain of the elbow. The sprain will also occur if your arm is forcefully twisted. These damaging movements mostly occur in field sports, but can be recreated in any accidental fall.
3) First Aid for a Sprained Elbow
Whenever you get your elbow sprained, it is very advisable to get first aid right away. This can prevent further damage and even relieve you of the pain. The first step would be to rest your arm while elevating it. Elevating your arm plays a key role in stopping any further swelling. Immobilizing it will also prevent any further damage to the ligament tissues.
Compressing the elbow with a pack of ice or a cold pack will do wonders in reducing the swelling. However, keep in mind that you should never let the ice be in direct contact with your skin. Apart from reducing the swelling it will also relieve you of the excruciating pain experienced. Following this first aid, it is better to visit a doctor who will determine the extent of the damage.
On your visit to the hospital, the doctor will inform you on how badly damaged your ligaments are. In some cases, the ligaments are in such a bad state that surgery has to be performed on the arm in order to fix the problem. In other cases though, you may be prescribed some mild painkillers and balm or cream to apply on your elbow so as to relieve you of the pain.
After you are out of the hospital, you will be required to take care of the sprain on your own. Some people dismiss sprains as being very minor injuries and resume to their normal activities as soon as they are out of the doctor’s office. This often lands them back in the doctor’s office.
4) Caring for a Sprained Elbow
It is very important to keep in mind that the ligament tissues need time to heal before you return your arm to its normal functions. Before then, you are strongly advised against carrying anything with the injured arm this will only put stress to the ligaments that are trying to build themselves back up and connect the two bones once more.
For one thing, you could support your arm on a sling. This will minimize the movement of the arm, and therefore reduce the pain, while completely supporting your arm. For maximum support, you could add a plastic elastic wrap that will offer your arm the support that it needs. However, do not wrap your arm too tight as this will prevent proper circulation of blood on your arm.
You are also required to press your elbow with some ice pack so as to relieve the pain while also reducing the swelling on your arm. A the very least, the ice should be put in a plastic bag and then wrapped in a towel. Do not under any circumstance put the bare ice cubes on your skin.
5) Preventing Elbow Sprains
After being in such an ordeal, it is vital that you know how best to prevent yourself from such an incident again. If you are active in sports you could consider investing in elbow caps. These are found in all sport stores and are very affordable. These will protect your elbow from any heavy blows as they cushion your elbow. You will likely agree that there is no better feeling than feeling protected while out in the field. Especially after spraining your elbow once.
You could also avoid incidents that will probably end with you falling on your outstretched arm. The best example is in roller-skating. A big percentage of those who come to the hospitals with sprained elbows are victims of roller skate falls. In order to avoid this, ensure you put on your elbow caps or pads no matter how childish they look. There will not be anything childish about you losing use of your arm. Remember, safety first.
Without your elbow, there is nothing much that you can do with that hand or arm, with this in mind ensure that you protect you elbow appropriately. A sprained elbow, if not taken care of, can result in you losing use of your arm. Do not let this happen to you, and play safe.