[TYPE OF JOINT: HINGE]
Tendons attaching bones to muscles in both the upper and lower arm come together in the elbow area. Ligaments hold bones tightly in place and stabilize the joint.
TOP THREAT: OLECRANON FRACTURE WHAT IT IS:
A crack or break in the elbow’s tip; this can result in an open fracture in which bone sticks through skin and can
Usually direct impact with a hard object, such as whacking your elbow against a doorframe. Falling on an outstretched arm can also stress the joint enough to separate bone.
If pieces of bone aren’t out of place, splinting for about six weeks should allow the fracture to heal. More complex fractures require surgery to realign bone fragments. A graft can fill in bone that’s been lost or destroyed.
Wear elbow pads in sports such as mountain biking, which have a higher risk of falls. And just in case you do go down, practice the tuck and roll. On a soft surface, crouch down, bend forward, tuck your head, and roll onto one shoulder. Try to curl into a ball as you do so, using your arms for guidance rather than as shock absorbers.
FUTURE-PROOF YOUR ELBOWS:
If you’re a golfer or tennis player, take lessons to learn how to swing a club or racket using your core and whole body. “A poor swing puts chronic strain on tendons, causing over-use damage that can be difficult to heal,” says Darryl D’Lima, M.D., Ph.D., of the Scripps Clinic in La Jolla, California. This can result in epicondylitis, a painful inflamhip mation of tendons that connect forearm muscles to bony protrusions called epicondyles on the outside and inside of the elbow. You know outside (lateral) epicondylitis as tennis elbow and inside (medial) epicondylitis as golfer’s elbow, but both can occur in either sport. Bonus tip: Ease into your game. Hit the first few balls gently, working up a light sweat to limber up muscles and ligaments before taking more vigorous strokes.
“If your tennis racket isn’t strung correctly, it will transmit more force up the forearm to the elbow,” says Dr. D’Lima. A recent study in Shoulder & Elbow found that lower string tension placed less of a load on the elbow, potentially reducing the risk of lateral epicondylitis.