Elbow injury - aftercare; Sprained elbow - aftercare
An elbow sprain can occur when your arm is quickly bent or twisted in an unnatural position. It can also happen when the ligaments are overloaded during regular movement. Elbow sprains can happen when:
You may notice:
Tell your doctor if you heard a "pop" when you injured your elbow. This could be a sign that the ligament was torn.
After examining your elbow, your doctor may order an x-ray to see if there are any breaks (fractures) to the bones in your elbow. You may also have an MRI of the elbow. The MRI pictures will show whether tissues around your elbow have been stretched or torn.
If you have an elbow sprain, you may need:
Your health care provider will likely instruct you to follow RICE to help reduce pain and swelling:
You can take ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn) to reduce pain and swelling. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) helps with pain, but not swelling. You can buy these pain medicines at the store.
You may need to wear a sling, splint, or cast for about 2 to 3 weeks while your elbow heals. Depending on how badly it is sprained, you may need to work with a physical therapist who will show you stretching and strengthening exercises.
Most people recover completely from a simple elbow sprain in about 4 weeks.
Call your doctor if:
Chard MD, Walker-Bone K. The elbow. In: Hochberg MC, Silman AJ, Smolen JS, Weinblatt ME, Weisman MH, eds. Rheumatology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2015:chap 74.
Last reviewed on: 7/13/2015
Reviewed by: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, San Francisco, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.