Elbow contusion refers to a serious bruise on the elbow. It occurs when an injury leads to internal bleeding on the skin. Contusions are often purple, blue or yellow. Minor contusions are painless while severe ones remain painful for weeks.
The major cause of an elbow contusion or a bruise on the elbow is a strong direct stress on the elbow or a fall where force concentrates on the elbow. It often occurs due to a bike accident or a force from a ball when playing various sports such as hockey or football.
Occupational injuries are also a common cause of deep bruises on elbows. People doing manual work or working in places like factories are at a greater risk of elbow contusions.
Symptoms of a bruised elbow
A major symptom for a bruised elbow is sudden severe pain after strong impact from fast moving or a falling ball. Gradually, a bruise and a form of discoloration will begin to show below your skin. The area is often tender to touch and swelling begins on the place of impact.
One may experience slight or severe pain on the injured elbow depending on the strength of the impact. If the pain is severe, it is important to check for more serious damage such as breakage of the elbow bones, torn muscle, dislocation of the joints or other severe injuries.
Seek immediate medical attention if:
- The pain or swelling does not relieve even after taking medicine or having first aid
- There is increased discoloration, pain or swelling on the bruised elbow
- The hand or fingers begins to swell
- The hand or fingers begin to get cold or blue
- If unable to move fingers or wrist
Treatment for bruised elbows
Rest the injured arm. Make the patient sit with their arm elevated and tie the elbow with a bandage to reduce the bleeding and swelling. Applying ice on the bruise can help reduce the swelling and bleeding. Where the elbow is very painful, medical attention could be sought to investigate for further injuries such as a fracture. If the doctor suspects a fracture, an x-ray should be taken to back up the diagnosis.
Elbow contusion exercises and recovery time
Normally a bruised elbow takes a few weeks to heal. Swelling starts to relieve a number of days following the injury and the patient begins to feel better. The doctor may recommend that one applies heat on the inflammation to reduce swelling. A patient need to exercise to help get back to normal activities within the shortest time possible. The exercises formulated are dependent on the degree of the bruise.
These are done after the inflammation has subsided and the pain has calmed down, to stretch the bruised elbow in order to improve range of motion and flexibility. After the elbow has regained flexibility, a therapist will encourage weight bearing exercises to strengthen the muscles. After one is done with this workout and feels no discomfort or pain, she or he can go back to their daily activities or even sporting exercises.
Doctors encourage these exercises because they help restore flexibility and movement after the bruise. A physician should be consulted first for guidance before one can engage in any form of exercise. The work out should be done three times daily provided they don’t cause more pain or further complication on the bruise.
Importance of exercises and rehabilitation
Rehabilitation refers to the process of regaining full function after an injury. It involves restoring flexibility, strength, power and endurance. This is achieved through regulated drills and work outs. Many overlook rehabilitation, but it should be noted that, it is as important as the treatment.
The objective of a rehabilitation program is to enable one get to pre-injury levels of physical fitness. A good rehabilitation process will help prevent re-injuries and ensure full recovery of the elbow.
How soon should one start rehabilitation?
Rehabilitation program should start immediately after the inflammation has reduced usually after 72 hours of an injury. The exercise should be painless unless under certain rare cases. The phrase painless does not mean slight pains will not be experienced during the exercise. Remember no pain no gain. Again, it is important to be careful because if the elbow is strained too much, then healing may be impaired.
Principles of rehabilitation
Principles of therapies are always the same despite the type of the sport or activity when the accident occurred. It is advisable that one consult a medic before engaging in any rehabilitation program. It is should be noted that people are different and will respond to various treatment differently.
Rehabilitation programs should be aimed at restoring muscle strength, power, endurance, and improve flexibility. The rehabilitation should be sports specific meaning the exercises will be different depending on the injury.