An elbow sprain is stretching or tearing of the ligaments of the elbow. Ligaments are strong bands of tissue that connect bones to each other.
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Elbow sprains may be caused by:
Here are some factors that may raise your risk:
Having this problem may cause:
You will be asked about your symptoms and how you hurt your elbow. The doctor will look at your elbow to see whether it is stable.
Pictures may be taken of your elbow. This can be done with:
Elbow sprains are graded from 1 to 3:
Acute care may involve:
Your doctor may tell you to take pain medicine. You may be told to take:
Note: Aspirin is not advised for children with a current or recent viral infection. Check with your doctor before giving your child aspirin.
Extra support may be needed to protect, support, and keep your elbow in line. This may mean:
You cannot always prevent an elbow sprain. There are steps you can take to lower your chance of one, though. These include:
American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
Derry S, Moore RA, Gaskell H, McIntyre M, Wiffen PJ. Topical NSAIDs for acute musculoskeletal pain in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev.2015;(6):CD007402.
Fast facts about sprains and strains. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niams.nih.gov/health_info/Sprains_Strains/sprains_and_strains_ff.asp. Updated January 30, 2015. Accessed June 11, 2018.
Sprains and strains: What's the difference? Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00111. Updated July 2015. Accessed June 11, 2018.
Sprains, strains and other soft-tissue injuries. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://www.orthoinfo.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00111. Updated July 2015. Accessed June 11, 2018.
Last reviewed May 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Laura Lei-Rivera, PT, DPT, GCS Last Updated: 6/11/2018