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Home : Specialty Care : Orthopedics : Elbow Strains

Elbow Strains

A strain is when a muscle becomes overstretched and tears. This painful injury, also called a "pulled muscle," can be caused by an accident, improper use of a muscle, or overuse of a muscle.  Strains are of 3 types:
 
• Mild (Grade I)-Slightly pulled muscle without tearing of muscle or tendon fibers. There is no loss of strength.
• Moderate (Grade II)- Tearing of fibers in a muscle, tendon or at the attachment to bone. Strength is diminished.
• Severe (Grade III)-Rupture of the muscle-tendon-bone attachment with separation of fibers. Severe strain requires surgical repair. Chronic strains are caused by overuse. Acute strains are caused by direct injury or overstress.

Causes

• Excessive physical activity or effort
• Improperly warming up before a physical activity
• Poor flexibility
• Prolonged overuse of muscle-tendon units in the elbow
• Sudden, forceful hyperextension of the elbow
• Single violent injury or force applied to the elbow

Symptoms

• Pain and difficulty moving the injured muscle
• Discolored and bruised skin
• Swelling
• Pain when moving or stretching the elbow.
• Muscle spasm in the elbow area.
• Swelling over the injury
• Loss of strength (moderate or severe strain)
• Crepitation ("crackling") feeling and sound when the injured area is pressed with fingers
• Calcification of muscles or tendons (visible with X-rays)
• Inflammation of a tendon sheath