Elbow injuries are ubiquitous in sports like baseball and tennis. With that said, elbow pain is not limited to athletes.
Jobs that involve repetitive motions like manufacturing and construction are at risk of injury as well. You could even experience trauma from an accident or slip-and-fall.
Your job, lifestyle, or accidents may force a visit to an orthopedic elbow doctor.
What Kind of Doctor Do You See for Elbow Pain?
An orthopedic sports medicine doctor or hand and upper extremity specialist may be able to offer treatment for your elbow pain.
These orthopedists subspecialize, gaining an additional year of training in specific joint injuries and conditions. Subspecialized orthopedic surgeons should be able to offer the most advanced treatment options for your condition.
Common Conditions That Cause Elbow Pain
- Elbow pain
- Numbness or tingling in the pinky and ring fingers
- Tenderness on the inside of the elbow
Overuse is one cause of UCL tears. UCL tears are common in baseball due to the nature of overusing the elbow by throwing 85-120 pitches each game.
Along with overuse from large pitch counts and innings pitched, an emphasis on throwing harder to increase velocity may lead to injury.
UCL tears can also occur due to trauma, but overuse in sports or other activities tends to be the leading cause of this elbow injury.
Minor UCL tears may only require rest or ice. Other tears can be repaired with medication or a physical therapy program. More severe cases of UCL tear will require surgery.
Tommy John surgery, or UCL reconstruction, is one of the most famous procedures in sports. In Tommy John surgery, an orthopedic surgeon can reconstruct your damaged UCL using other tendons.
- Severe burning sensation
- Tenderness on the outside of elbow or forearm
- Gradually worsening pain
- Stiffness and aching
Repetition and forearm stress can damage your tendon. Some sports, like tennis, can increase your likelihood of developing tennis elbow.
Nonsurgical treatment for tennis elbow is often effective. A sports medicine specialist may recommend rest or limiting certain activities. Injections and physical therapy are other nonsurgical treatment options for tennis elbow.
While rare, some cases of tennis elbow do require surgery. In this circumstance, an elbow specialist creates a small incision and reattaches the tendon.
Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
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- Numbness in the ring or little fingers
- Reappearing tingling sensation
- Difficulty gripping objects
Overuse and repetitive motions may lead to cubital tunnel syndrome. Pressure on the ulnar nerve is another potential cause for this condition.
Sometimes the condition may heal on its own, but you should plan for that to not be the case. If left untreated, cubital tunnel syndrome can cause permanent damage to your elbow.
An elbow doctor may be able to treat this condition without surgery. In more severe cases, your surgeon may need to perform cubital tunnel release surgery.
Ganglian Cyst of the Elbow
If you have a ganglian cyst, you will have a small bump near your elbow joint. Most of the time, this bump will be painless.
The direct cause of a ganglian cyst is unknown.
Ganglian cysts can go away on their own. If you have a ganglian cyst on your elbow or another joint that is causing you pain, seek help from a doctor.
Signs You Need to See an Elbow Doctor
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There are many signs that you should see an elbow doctor, but we have provided three telltale signs to schedule your visit.
1. Elbow Pain
If you are hurting, you should seek medical advice immediately. Letting an elbow injury go untreated can lead to permanent damage.
2. Numbness or Tingling
Numbness or tingling sensations are signs you may have a condition like cubital tunnel syndrome or a torn UCL.
3. Forearm or Elbow Stiffness
Stiffness in your forearm or elbow is another sign you should visit an orthopedic elbow specialist. You may notice stiffness while reaching or clenching your hand.
Treatment Options for Elbow Pain
Your orthopedic doctor may advise trying nonsurgical treatment before evaluating surgery. Nonsurgical treatment options for elbow pain include a forearm or elbow brace, injections, occupational or physical therapy, medication, and rest.
If nonsurgical treatment does not provide relief for your pain, an elbow doctor may recommend arthroscopic or open surgery.
Surgeries Your Elbow Doctor May Recommend:
- Direct UCL repair
- Tommy John surgery (UCL reconstruction)
- Cubital tunnel release
- Lateral epicondylitis release
- Elbow fracture repair
- Total elbow arthroplasty or replacement
Questions to Ask Your Elbow Doctor
1. How can I avoid elbow pain?
If you are an athlete, utilize the best sports medicine practices in your game:
- Avoid overuse or elbow fatigue
- Use good throwing mechanics
- Discontinue any throwing at the first sign of pain
Otherwise, you can avoid elbow pain by implementing an exercise program or incorporating ergonomic tools into your everyday life. If your work involves repetitive arm movement, you should rest your arm to avoid tendon stress.
2. Am I a candidate for surgery?
If you visit an orthopedic doctor that specializes in elbow surgery, they may offer several treatment options before bringing up surgery. If nonsurgical treatment options fail, your elbow specialist may decide that you are a candidate for surgery.
3. How do I prepare for surgery?
Your surgeon may advise that you prepare for surgery in several ways:
- Place objects around the home in easy-to-reach spots
- Have someone that can drive you around as needed
- Consider pre-operation physical therapy
Ask your elbow doctor for considerations with your upcoming surgery.
4. What can I expect after elbow surgery?
Your recovery after elbow surgery will depend on the severity of your injury and the type of surgery you get. Here are some general symptoms that you can expect after elbow surgery:
- You may have swelling in the elbow, arm, or hand
- You may have elbow pain
- You may feel tired
5. How can I have the best recovery from elbow surgery?
After elbow surgery, it is crucial to listen to your doctors recommendations. They may recommend the following during recovery:
- Avoid using your arm or elbow
- Seeking help from a physical therapist
- Getting plenty of rest
- Wearing a brace
- Eating healthy
- Getting exercise
- Putting a cold compress on the elbow
- Making sure the incision is protected and clean
Who Is the Best Elbow Doctor Near Me?
Access to a skilled elbow doctor may vary depending on your location. To find the best elbow doctor near you, there are several sources you can turn to:
- Online review platforms like Google Maps or Healthgrades
- Your primary care provider
- Friends for family members who have experienced joint pain
- Social media or online search
Our Elbow Doctors in Nashville, TN
Elite Sports Medicine + Orthopedic sports medicine specialist, Dr. Burton F. Elrod, performing surgery.
Dr. Burton F. Elrod (Sports Medicine)
Dr. Elrod is an orthopedic sports medicine doctor and one of the most accomplished surgeons in the country. He was a Head Team Physician in the NFL for nearly twenty years. With his experience, Dr. Elrod is one of the best elbow doctors in Nashville, TN.
Dr. David R. Moore (Sports Medicine)
Dr. Moore is another accomplished sports medicine specialist who spent time as a Head Team Physician in the NFL. He is a several-time recipient of the Castle Connolly Top Doctor award and was recently named the best orthopedic doctor in Nashville, TN by Nashville Fit Magazine.
Dr. Thomas T. Dovan (Hand and Upper Extremity)
Dr. Dovan is a hand specialist that has been treating hand and upper extremity pain at Elite since 2007. He is yet another one of Elite’s orthopedists that have been named a Top Doctor numerous times.
Dr. Samuel N. Crosby (Hand and Upper Extremity)
Dr. Crosby treats conditions of the hand, fingers, wrist, and elbow. He is a skilled surgeon known for his personable approach to patient care. He was recently named a runner-up for Nashville Fit Magazine's best orthopedic physician in Nashville, TN.
Dr. Amanda D. Martin (Sports Medicine)
Dr. Martin is a sports medicine surgeon who treats knee, shoulder, hip, and elbow conditions. She is a Team Physician for the United States Women’s National Soccer Team.
If you are suffering from elbow pain, you should seek treatment from an orthopedic elbow specialist near you. At Elite Sports Medicine + Orthopedics, our elbow doctors in Nashville, TN are among the most highly rated across Tennessee. Schedule your visit with one of our specialists today.