How to Identify and Treat a Hyperextended Elbow

What are the Symptoms of Elbow Hyperextension?

Elbows are commonly referred to as “the weak link” when it comes to throwing. They tend to bend forward during the throw and can easily become overexerted. When an athlete’s elbows become overextended they may experience pain or discomfort in their forearms, shoulder girdle, or even their back (see image).

When does Elbow Hyperextension Occur?

The exact cause of elbow hyperextension is not known, but there are several factors that contribute to its occurrence. One such factor is improper training techniques. Another contributing factor is overuse injuries like rotator cuff tears and herniated disks. Finally, excessive stress on the ligaments around the elbow can lead to hyperextension as well.

How Is Elbow Hyperextension Diagnosed?

There are two main diagnostic tests used to diagnose elbow hyperextension: the passive range of motion test and the active range of motion test. Both tests require the patient to hold a stretched out arm straight out in front of them with their palm facing up. A line drawn from the top of one finger to the tip of another finger indicates how far away a person’s elbow can extend before it becomes painful. If a person can reach past this line without pain, it is a positive test.

How Is Elbow Hyperextension Treated?

The most common treatment for elbow hyperextension is rest, ice, and over the counter anti-inflammatory medication. In more serious cases where the athlete is experiencing a lot of pain and swelling, a doctor may prescribe a stronger anti-inflammatory or even injectable steroid into the area using x-ray guidance.

What Is the Outlook for Elbow Hyperextension?

Elbow hyperextension can be a very frustrating injury for an athlete to experience. Because overuse is a common cause, it is important for that athlete to rest and give their body time to heal and recover from the injury. As the elbow begins to heal and become stronger, the patient can begin doing strength-building exercises to prevent elbow hyperextension in the future.

How Can I Prevent Elbow Hyperextension?

There are several ways you can prevent elbow hyperextension. First and foremost, coaches and trainers need to make sure that their pitchers are warming up properly and that they are not overusing them during games and practices. Pitching too much can lead to overuse injuries like rotator cuff tears and herniated disks, which can contribute to elbow hyperextension. It is also important to make sure that players are wearing adequate safety equipment such as elbow pads and helmets while they are playing.

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