Elbow Ailments: Pain, Treatment and Exercises
We all know how complex the human body is. Organs, nerves, joints, muscles, bones and a whole lot more function both independently and as a system depending on the activities we do. Although we have become more aware of our body’s complexity there are times when we overlook how our bodies work and push them to limits almost the boundaries of breaking or over use which we are well reminded of when things start to become painful.
The ulnar nerve runs from our necks down to our arms passing through and along the bones and muscles. As it runs through a long stretch of muscles, bones, and ligaments this specific nerve commonly involved when we move our arms for next to every action. These different parts that the ulnar nerve interact with may cause different troubles when moving. The Guyon’s canal found in the wrists and the cubital tunnel found in the elbow are just some of the joints where the ulnar nerve pass through and are commonly places of ulnar nerve damage.
Cubital tunnel syndrome happens when the nerve gets compressed near the medial epicondyle. Leaving the elbows bent of a long period of time, sleeping on your elbows, or over using the joint may pinch the ulnar nerve causing pain in the elbow area and make your fingers go numb. This ailment commonly afflicts people who do heavy lifting or repetitively bend their elbows for day-to-day activities such as working out. People who have bone spurs, cysts and even arthritis may also cause this condition when it affects areas where the ulnar nerve runs through.
The most common home remedy for Ulnar Nerve damage is the RICE treatment. This method is aimed at easing the pain and allowing the nerve to recuperate through Rest, Ice (icing or cold compress), Compression, and Elevation.
- Rest. As with any body part when pain is felt to a specific area it is always best to stop straining the part even more. Allow your body to recuperate from the ailment by decreasing the amount of work all help our muscles and joints heal itself and speed up the recovery process.
- Ice. Applying ice on the afflicted areas numbs the nerves and reduces pain. It also reduces inflammation on joints and relieves the pain over time. This method is recommended to be accompanied with rest to allow the muscles to heal without stressing them out more even if the pain has subsided.
- Compression. Wrapping the afflicted joints in tight bandages or the use of compression garments, improve blood flow in the area, aiding the healing process.
- Elevation. This also encourages blood circulation similar to compression and is usually done in tandem with res and compression. Leaving the arm on a raised surface while laying down elevates the affected area and improves circulation to the elevated part.
Though these ailments are difficult to avoid, keeping our joints and muscles healthy reduces the chance of being affected by elbow ailments. Exercising the joint keeps it strong and healthy allowing us to use it more without causing it harm. Here are some examples that you can do without almost anywhere, anytime.
Ulnar Nerve Glides
- Stand with your elbow bent.
- Keep the palms faced out and up with fingers slightly bent forming shallow cup in your hands.
- Stretch the arm forward at shoulder level keeping it straight and flex the wrist toward the body with the palm still facing out and then away.
- Keep the wrist bent downward then bend the elbow in.
- Repeat this 10 times doing 3 sets daily
Isometric elbow exercises
- External Rotator Exercises. Lying on your back, bend the elbow at a 90 degree angle close to the body with the palm facing up. Grasp the wrist with your other hand and push outward while resisting with arm being pushed. Do this for 10 seconds then switch to the other arm.
- Internal Rotator Exercises. Lying on your back, bend the elbow at a 90 degree angle close to the body with the palm facing up. Grasp the wrist with your other hand and pull inward while resisting with arm being pulled. Do this for 10 seconds then switch to the other arm.
- Extensors. While standing with your back against the wall, bend the elbow at a 90 degree angle close the body. Press the elbow backward against the wall while resisting to be pushed away from it for 10 seconds then switch to the other arm.
- Middle Deltoid. Stand against the wall sideways pressing your arm to it. Bend the elbow at a 90 degree angle close to the body. Move the elbow out without and resist being pushing away from the wall. Do this for 10 seconds then switch to the other arm.
- Anterior Deltoid. Stand facing a wall with your elbows bent at a 90 degree angle held close to the body. Push your fist against the wall while resisting to be moved away. Do this for 10 seconds then switch to the other arm.