Elbow Injuries

12 Lessons

The elbow joint is one of the most stable articulations in the body. There are three separate articulations: the ulno-trochlear (hinge), radio-capitellar (rotation) and the proximal radio-ulnar (rotation) joints. The close connection of these joints results in the high range of motion seen at the elbow with regard to extension and flexion as well as the pronation and supination of the forearm. Bone structures, the joint capsule, as well as the lateral- and medial-ulnar collateral ligaments allow direct motion control and high stability.

Injuries to the elbow are not common in football. Acute injuries are likely to occur during games and training. Overuse injuries in the elbow are more likely to occur as a result of supplemental training or due to factors outside the football pitch.

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Learning outcomes

By the end of this topic you should:

  • Be aware of the major types of injury affecting the elbow.
  • Be able to diagnose elbow injuries by taking an appropriate history, conducting a physical examination and by ordering appropriate investigations, where needed.
  • Understand and be able to implement an appropriate rehabilitation programme to treat elbow injuries in football players.


  • Watch the 11-slide talk and review the provided text.
  • Read the provided articles.
  • Complete the case-based assessment task.

Suggested reading

Brukner & Khan’s

Clinical Sports Medicine – 4th Edition

Chapter 22 (pages 390-412)


  1. Saati, A.Z., McKee, M.D. Fracture-dislocation of the elbow: Diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis. Hand Clin 2004; 20(4):405-14.
  2. Verrall, G.M. Return to Australian rules football after acute elbow dislocation: A report of three cases and review of the literature. J Sci Med Sport 2001; 4(2):245-50.
  3. PARVIN, R.W. Closed reduction of common shoulder and elbow dislocations without anesthesia. AMA Arch Surg 1957; 75(6):972-5.
  4. Meyn, M.A., Quigley, Jr, T.B. Reduction of posterior dislocation of the elbow by traction on the dangling arm. Clin Orthop Relat Res 1974; (103):106-8.
  5. Descatha, A., Leclerc, A., Chastang, J.F., Roquelaure, Y. Study Group on Repetitive Work. Incidence of ulnar nerve entrapment at the elbow in repetitive work. Scand J Work Environ Health 2004; 30(3):234-40.
  6. Burnham, R., Gregg, R., Healy, P., Steadward, R. The effectiveness of topical diclofenac for lateral epicondylitis. Clin J Sport Med 1998; 8(2):78-81.
  7. Smidt, N., Assendelft, W.J., van der Windt, D.A., Hay, E.M., Buchbinder, R., Bouter, L.M. Corticosteroid injections for lateral epicondylitis: A systematic review. Pain 2002; 96(1-2):23-40.
  8. Olaussen, M., Holmedal, O., Lindbaek, M., Brage, S., Solvang, H. Treating lateral epicondylitis with corticosteroid injections or non-electrotherapeutical physiotherapy: A systematic review. BMJ Open 2013; 3(10):e003564.
  9. Safran, M.R., Graham, S.M. Distal biceps tendon ruptures: Incidence, demographics, and the effect of smoking. Clin Orthop Relat Res 2002 Nov; (404):275-83.
  10. Chavan, P.R., Duquin, T.R., Bisson, L.J. Repair of the ruptured distal biceps tendon: A systematic review. Am J Sports Med 2008; 36(8):1618-24.
  11. Freeman, C.R., McCormick, K.R., Mahoney, D., Baratz, M., Lubahn, J.D. Nonoperative treatment of distal biceps tendon ruptures compared with a historical control group. J Bone Joint Surg Am 2009; 91(10):2329-34.
  12. Duckworth, A.D., Clement, N.D., Jenkins, P.J., Aitken, S.A., Court-Brown, C.M., McQueen, M.M. The epidemiology of radial head and neck fractures. J Hand Surg Am 2012; 37(1):112-9.
  13. Babhulkar, S., Babhulkar, S. Controversies in the management of intra-articular fractures of distal humerus in adults. Indian J Orthop 2011; 45(3):216-25.
  14. HARALDSSON, S. The intra-osseous vasculature of the distal end of the humerus with special reference to capitulum; preliminary communication. Acta Orthop Scand 1957; 27(2):81-93.
  15. Redler, L.H., Watling, J.P., Ahmad, C.S. Physical examination of the throwing athlete’s elbow. Am J Orthop (Belle Mead NJ) 2015; 44(1):13-8.
  16. Josefsson, P.O., Danielsson, L.G. Epicondylar elbow fracture in children. 35-year follow-up of 56 unreduced cases. Acta Orthop Scand 1986; 57(4):313-5.
  17. Hines, R.F., Herndon, W.A., Evans, J.P. Operative treatment of medial epicondyle fractures in children. Clin Orthop Relat Res 1987; (223):170-4.
  18. Weinstein, P.S., Canoso, J.J., Wohlgethan, J.R. Long-term follow-up of corticosteroid injection for traumatic olecranon bursitis. Ann Rheum Dis 1984; 43(1):44-6.