Size – The larger the area of your elbow pain, is better, because tendons in your hand stretch from your finger tip to your elbow. Pain tends to radiate along the tendons and affect large areas. Tendons heal easier & recover faster.
Colour – Bruising in & around your elbow are quite common after a crack, splinter or fracture, because of the high concentration of small blood vessels in your hands. These capillaries rupture & leak plasma that pools in your elbow. Clearly something is wrong. Blue discoloration closer to your wrist is more concerning for it involves your possible injury to the small bones in your wrist & hand.
Swelling – Swelling is your body’s way of healing itself by sending cells to heal the tissue. More swelling could mean more tissue damage, however not all hand injuries swell. Injury to tissue that develops over a few weeks doesn’t swell, because the tissue trauma is continuous and repetitive, so your body stops the inflammatory reaction. A new injury on an old problem is also possible.
Area – Elbow pain on the palm’s side are more restrictive when you grip & hold things, while pain at the back of your elbow limits you from carrying. If your elbow pain renders you unable to move you must be more concerned. Sharp pain over a small area makes it easier to pinpoint structures near your pain. Vague, dull & deep elbow pain can take longer to identify the root cause. Compensatory patterns develop, sometimes it takes a while to just get rid of those.
Motion & sore elbow
Stiff – Elbow stiffness followed by pain is regressing and getting worse. Seek help. However, pain followed by stiffness is a good sign of tissue healing, specifically scar tissue formation. Scar tissue is hardening wound tissue that tends to shorten and pull on structures surrounding the injured site. This is more pronounced in muscle strains & tears, where the normal slide of muscles is restricted during a contraction.
Range of movement – Difficult moving your elbow through its range is a big problem. A painful arch means the structure injured only takes tension over that specific range i.e Only painful when you straighten your arm the last 10 degrees. Elbow pain over a smaller range of movement is not necessarily better. This may point to connecting joint surfaces being injured like cartilage. If you feel pain only at the end of your range its less severe and easy to fix. When your elbow pain stops movement completely and its too painful to move, you should definitely come see us as soon as possible.