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Physical Therapy for the Elbow

by | Oct 20, 2016 | Elbow Disorders, Elbow Physical Therapy | 0 comments

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Your elbow joint is made up of bone, cartilage, ligaments and fluid. Muscles and tendons help the elbow joint move. When any of these structures are hurt or diseased it paves the way for elbow problems. Elbow pain is sometimes due to arthritis, but in general, most elbow pain results from overuse injuries. Sports or any activities and professions that require repetitive hand, wrist, or arm movements are more prone to elbow injury.

Common causes of elbow pain are bursitis, elbow strains, and arthritis. Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, results in the wearing out of the cartilage that protects the bones in the joints. Once cartilage is damaged or destroyed, cartilage cannot repair or replace itself like many other body tissues. Elbow cartilage can be compared to the tread of an automobile tire, very durable but susceptible to wear over time.

As we age, the tread surface slowly erodes until the underlying bone is exposed. This exposed bone can be painful when the joint moves and bears weight. Often the cause of arthritis is unknown, but may develop as a result of injury to the joint, excess body weight, or years of wear and tear on the joint cartilage. There is no known cure. The best that doctors can do for patients is to restore motion and reduce pain. Common symptoms of osteoarthritis of the elbow are severe elbow pain that limits everyday activity, loss of range of motion, chronic swelling of the elbow with morning stiffness and numbness in ring finger and small finger.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic inflammatory condition of the joint lining, where the body’s immunological system attacks healthy tissue, causing inflammation of the joint lining and subsequent joint damage. When rheumatoid arthritis is present, the cartilage is not being provided with enough lubrication and nourishment. This leads to loss of motion and pain in the elbow. You may be prescribed a number of physical therapy exercises.

Physical therapy is simply an exercise program that gently stretches and strengthens specific muscles and joints. The exercises you may perform are gentle, range of motion (stretching) exercises designed to restore movement and strength to your joint and to promote blood flow for healing. It is important to stay proactive in your physical therapy since it can have a direct impact on the quality of your recovery.

Remember to stay diligent and don’t give up. Ask for help if you need it. Friends, family members, and even neighbors can assist you with heavier or more demanding tasks during your recovery. Physical therapy is a very important role in the recovery process. A physical therapist may demonstrate a variety of low-impact exercises designed to increase the strength and mobility of your elbow joint.

Give us a call at 716-836-2225 or visit us at and we will be happy to show you the way.


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