Woman receiving rehabilitation for elbow injuryThe elbow is a complex joint where several bones come together–—the upper arm (humerus), and the ulna and the radius (the bones that make up the forearm). The bones in the elbow are attached by soft tissues such as ligaments, tendons and cartilage that allows for motion and helps absorb shock. When the bones and soft tissues of the elbow are damaged, it can cause elbow pain that can interfere with the quality of your life.

At Penn Orthopaedics, we are dedicated to restoring patients to their maximum function and eliminating or greatly reducing your elbow pain. We have expertise in surgical and non-surgical treatment for every type of elbow condition because of our extensive experience and training.

Our orthopaedic team takes a “whole person” approach to care, considering all aspects of a patient’s lifestyle, personal needs and goals for treatment. Our ability to provide an accurate diagnosis leads to comprehensive treatment plans and better outcomes for your elbow condition.

Our team is comprised of specialists across multiple disciplines, including:

  • Orthopaedic surgeons
  • Physical therapists
  • Radiologists
  • Anesthesiologists and pain management specialists
  • Rheumatologists
  • Sports medicine doctors
  • Vascular medicine specialists
  • Microvascular surgeon
  • Infectious disease experts

What Causes Elbow Pain?

Elbow pain can be caused by one or more problems such as acute trauma or injury, fractures to any of the bones that make up the elbow, dislocation, chronic overuse, degeneration of soft tissues in the elbow and nerve damage. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, you may want to see a Penn orthopaedic specialist to determine if you have an elbow condition:

  • Elbow pain
  • Deformities
  • Restriction in activity
  • Swelling
  • Weakness
  • Stiffness
  • Decreased or painful range of motion
  • Instability
  • Inflammation
  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Popping or snapping of joints

To evaluate elbow conditions, our orthopaedic surgeons collaborate with musculoskeletal (MSK) radiologists to determine the most accurate diagnosis and optimal treatment plans. We offer the latest diagnostic tests including:

  • CT scans
  • Musculoskeletal ultrasound
  • MRI
  • X-ray

Elbow conditions we treat include:

  • Axillary nerve dysfunction
  • Bursitis Bone and joint infections
  • Degenerative conditions (such as arthritis)
  • Dislocation Elbow fracture
  • Elbow infection
  • Elbow instability
  • Elbow pain
  • Elbow replacement
  • Glenoid Golfer's elbow (medial epicondylitis)
  • Humerus fracture
  • Instability
  • Joint instability
  • Labral tears
  • Lateral epicondylitis
  • Ligament injury or sprain of the elbow
  • Muscle transfers
  • Nerve dysfunction (long thoracic nerves, spinal accessory)
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Osteonecrosis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Sports injuries
  • Tendonitis
  • Tennis elbow
  • Trauma
  • Ulnar collateral ligament injuries

    Eliminating Elbow Pain Through an Advanced Pain Management Program

    We understand that patients who experience less pain tend to have far better outcomes. Our advanced pain management program effectively reduces elbow pain by offering effective alternatives to using opioids and narcotics. Our pain management protocol reduces the risk of drug dependency by combining physical therapy, corticosteroid injections, anti-inflammatory medication and behavioral and cognitive therapy. Penn physicians are working with newer medications that may result in longer-term numbing from a single injection nerve block that offers immediate pain relief.

    For those who require surgery, we collaborate with Anesthesia and Physical Therapy who administer an indwelling catheter that effectively reduces pain so patients can regain motion in their elbow as quickly as possible. An anesthesiologist will numb the nerves and elbow area and insert a small catheter around the nerves. A continuous slow drip of local anesthetic will be maintained for two or three days. Patients are able to begin their physical therapy much faster as a result of this highly advanced pain management technique.

    Second Opinions for Elbow Conditions

    Our orthopaedic surgeons see a very high volume of individuals in need of second opinions and revision surgeries for their elbow condition. We have expertise in all types of common and complex revision elbow surgery techniques, including total elbow replacement, synovectomy advanced arthroscopic techniques, cartilage repair, tendon and ligament reconstruction and ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) injuries repair (Tommy John Surgery).

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