Elbow Injuries: When to See a Westchester Orthopedic Surgeon

You are playing tennis, squash or racquetball and you extend for a backhand swing and you suddenly have sharp pain in your elbow.

You take a divot on your approach to the ninth hole and ouch… the inside of your elbow feels like it was stabbed with a knife. If you lead an active lifestyle you know that dealing with injuries is an unavoidable consequence.

To stay in the game safely, and to quote my high school football coach, you have be able to tell the difference between a “hurt” and an “injury.” Below are some tips to keep you in the game, and to also when it’s time to see your Westchester orthopedic doctor.

  1. Loss of function- Your elbow may be in pain, but the first thing you want to assess is the motion in your hurt elbow, and make sure it is the same as in your “good” elbow.

    First, see if your elbows can straighten equally, then check if they can flex equally. If they both move at the same, great. Next place your elbows at your side and see if you can face the palms of your hand up and down with equal motion. If your motion is equal you have a low probability of a serious injury.

  2. Timing- Now that your motion is equal it is safe to give your elbow some time for the pain to resolve. Most minor elbow injuries should resolve in a few days. You should follow the pneumonic RICEN. This stands for: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation, NSAIDS (these are medications like Advil and Aleve).

    If the pain in your elbow does not resolve within a week and it is now affecting the activities of your daily life then it is time to seek attention from your Westchester orthopedic surgeon.

  3. Playing through pain- In my office I have one hard and fast rule: you should never play through pain unless you are being paid to do it. Playing with pain in your elbow can lead to problems along the entire extremity.

    Slight variations in the way you play your sport in order to avoid the pain will result in injury and pain in other joints, especially your shoulder.
    Even in professional baseball players with elbow injuries, those who played with elbow pain had a 30 times higher chance of injuring there shoulder. Playing through pain is never a good idea.

If you have injured your elbow, and you have lost function or the pain is not going away, to stay safe and active you should seek the medical advice of your orthopedic surgeon.

To schedule an appointment with Westchester Sport and Spine, give us a call today at (914) 358-9700.

Dr. Michael Gott is a Westchester orthopedic surgeon who is fellowship trained in sports medicine. He has also been an active member of the National Ski Patrol as well as a Member of the Windham Mountain Ski Patrol for 18 years.