An elbow contusion is also known as bruised elbow. It is a condition where a person has injured the tissues overlying the elbow resulting in a bruise and pain over the elbow. The cause of this is commonly a fall or direct force to the elbow such as happens in bike accidents or impact from a hard ball while playing sports such as a hockey ball.
Causes of Elbow Contusion or Bruised Elbow
- A fall or direct force to the elbow.
- Bike accidents.
- Sports injuries.
- Occupational injuries.
Symptoms of Elbow Contusion or Bruised Elbow
- Instant pain on direct force or impact to the elbow.
- Appearance of a bruise or discoloration of the skin surrounding the elbow.
- Tenderness to touch.
- Swelling may be present.
- Limited and painful movement of the elbow.
- Symptoms indicating a more serious condition are extreme pain upon elbow movement indicating a fracture.
Treatment Options For Elbow Contusion or Bruised Elbow
- The arm should be rested.
- The arm should be kept elevated.
- A compression bandage may be used to decrease the swelling and bleeding.
- Ice therapy helps in reducing swelling and bleeding.
- NSAID’s such as ibuprofen, naproxen, or other pain medications can be given for pain relief.
- A sling can be worn for comfort and to limit movement to promote healing.
- If the elbow is extremely painful, then a fracture may be indicated and patient should seek immediate medical attention.
- X-ray will confirm the diagnosis of a fracture.
Elbow Contusion Recovery Time and Exercises
Elbow contusion injury or Bruised Elbow is quite common and many athletes or normal people develop elbow contusions. Normally Elbow Contusion or Bruised Elbow takes about a couple of weeks to heal. The inflammation may start to come down after about a couple of days after injury and the individual may feel quite better. The physician may recommend at this time to apply heat to the injured area and formulate an exercise regimen to get you back to the regular activities at the shortest possible time. The exercise will be formulated depending on the extent and severity of the injury. Complete healing of Elbow Contusion or Bruised Elbow will also depend on the amount of stress you put on the injured elbow, but normally it takes a maximum of four weeks for the elbow to completely heal. Some of the exercises recommended for elbow contusion are:
Stretching Exercises: This is done a few days after sustaining elbow contusion or bruised elbow injury when the swelling has subsided and inflammation has calmed down so as to stretch the injured elbow and improve flexibility and range of motion. Once the flexibility and range of motion of the elbow has improved then the therapist will recommend strengthening and weightbearing exercises. After performing all these exercises and if you are pain free and have no discomfort then you may return to normal activities of daily living or sporting activities. The following exercises are formulated to restore movement of the elbow and improve flexibility. It is always recommended to discuss with the physical therapist before beginning any form of exercise regimen. The exercises mentioned below should be done at least three times a day provided they do not increase the pain.
Elbow Bends: This exercise is done to strengthen the elbows. To this exercise, bend and straighten the elbow as much as possible without increasing pain and provided there is no more than mild to moderate stretch. Repeat this about 20 times as long as it is pain free.
Forearm Rotation: To do this exercise, put the elbow at the side and bend at right angles. Turn the palm up and down as far as possible without increase in pain feeling just mild to moderate stretch. Do this exercise about 20 times without any pain increase.
Elbow Extension: Place your elbow on the edge of a table. Straighten the injured elbow using the other hand as much as possible without increasing pain feeling no more than a moderate stretch. Do this exercise about 20 times without increasing the pain.
Elbow Flexion: To do this exercise, place the elbow on a table. Bend the injured elbow using the other hand as much as possible without any increase in pain and feeling no more than a moderate stretch. Do this exercise about 20 times provided there is no increase in pain.
Biceps Stretch: To do this exercise, keep the back and the neck straight with the arm behind your back supported by a table. Now, gently lower the body, allowing the arm to move much further behind until a mild to moderate stretch is felt and there is no increase in pain. Maintain this position for about 15 seconds and do it about four times a day.
Triceps Stretch: To do this exercise, stand with the back and neck straight. Place one hand behind the lower part of the neck and the other hand on the elbow. Now, gently push the elbow backwards such that the hand moves further down the spine and a moderate stretch is felt without any exacerbation of pain. Maintain this position for about 20 seconds and do it about three times a day.