Hyperextended Elbow Recovery Time: Prevention and Treatment

la clinica workplace elbow hyperextension

Hyperextended Elbow Recovery Time: Prevention and Treatment

An injury occurs in an American workplace about every seven seconds. This makes it important to always wear your designated safety gear while at work and report any workplace hazards to your supervisor. However, even the best safety gear in a completely OSHA-compliant workplace cannot prevent all injuries.

One of the most common types of workplace injuries is the hyperextension injury, and one joint in your body prone to this type of injury is your elbow. Read on to learn how elbow hyperextension injuries occur, how to avoid them, and what to do if you suspect you have developed one. 

How Elbow Hyperextension Injuries Occur

Elbow hyperextension injuries occur when your elbow joint bends backward. When your elbow hyperextends, the anterior, or front, of your elbow is overstretched, while the posterior, or back, of your elbow experiences severe compression.

Typically, the more your elbow moves backward, the more severe the injury. While mild injuries can lead to tendon and ligament strains, more severe elbow hyperextension injuries can lead to torn ligaments and broken bones. 

Elbow hyperextension injuries often occur in the workplace when lifting heavy objects. However, even if you perform no heavy lifting on the job, you can develop an elbow hyperextension injury after a fall. This occurs when a person instinctually uses their arms to help prevent a fall or ease the blow of it.

The first signs of an elbow hyperextension injury are typically a sharp pain or popping sound in the elbow. 

Tips to Avoid Elbow Hyperextension

A woman athlete holding her aching elbow

While not all elbow hyperextension injuries can be avoided, some can be by following these tips:

  • Strengthen your arm muscles. When your arm muscles are weak, more stress is put on your elbows when lifting objects. Perform arm-strengthening exercises several times each week to prevent many types of elbow injuries. 
  • Wear the right footwear for the job. Remember that many cases of elbow hyperextension occur during simple slip-and-falls around the workplace. Be sure to wear proper footwear and replace it anytime you notice the outsole traction wearing down. 
  • Ask for help when lifting extra heavy items. Never be afraid to inform your employer that an object you are instructed to lift is simply too heavy to lift by yourself. Your employer would rather you ask for help than experience a workplace injury. 

Also, remember to take your time when lifting heavy objects and climbing ladders. Many workplace injuries can be avoided by simply slowing down and performing tough tasks without rushing. 

Elbow Hyperextension Treatment

Elbow hyperextension injuries take an average of 3 to 4 weeks to heal. Of course, severe cases of hyperextension can take longer, especially if bones are broken. 

If you suspect that you have developed a hyperextension injury at work, report it to your supervisor so they can fill out the proper workplace injury documentation. Then visit a good workplace injury clinic, such as La Clinica, to obtain an official diagnosis of your injury and a treatment plan. 

It is important to rest your elbow to avoid adding additional stress to it after an elbow hyperextension injury, and your doctor may suggest you wear an elbow brace to immobilize the joint while it heals. 

After a period of rest and healing, your doctor may then suggest that you obtain regular physical therapy sessions to help strengthen the muscles in the arm with the injured elbow. After a long period of rest, the muscles in an injured limb often weaken, and working with these weakened muscles can lead to another injury. 

Why Physical Therapy is the Best Treatment for Elbow Hyperextension

Physical therapy is an effective solution for treating elbow hyperextension. Unlike most treatment options, physical therapy focuses on the underlying causes and improving joint function. In detail below, let’s discuss why physical therapy might be the best possible treatment for elbow hyperextension.

A physical therapist helping the patient during an exercise

✅Comprehensive Assessment

Among the reasons why physical therapy might be the best treatment for elbow hyperextension is because it involves comprehensive assessment. Unlike other treatment options, physical therapy involves designing personalized treatment for your unique needs, goals, and challenges. Your provider must conduct a thorough assessment to evaluate your physical, medical, and functional status. Usually, the evaluation involves understanding your medical history, assessing your ability to perform everyday activities, measuring the range of motion in the affected elbow joint, and understanding your pain levels.

In addition, the specialist will also analyze your movement patterns to identify incorrect posture and faulty mechanics that might worsen the condition. With a comprehensive assessment, your doctor of physical therapy will diagnose the underlying cause of your elbow hyperextension accurately. The information gathered from the evaluation will allow your doctor to come up with a personalized treatment plan to address your needs.

✅Individualized Treatment Plans

Another reason why physical therapy might be the best possible treatment for elbow hyperextension is because of individualized treatment plans. In physical therapy, a one-size-fits-all approach is never used. Instead, it focuses on individualized treatment programs according to your medical history and preferences. Physical therapy specialists will also consider your fitness levels, medical history, and lifestyle. Your individualized treatment plan may include:

  • Targeted exercises
  • Pain management modalities
  • Patient education
  • Functional goals
  • Gradual progression

✅Collaboration and Support

Physical therapy is a vast field that requires the collaboration of various healthcare professionals. These include sports medicine physicians, surgeons, occupational therapists, and orthopedic specialists. These healthcare professionals work closely to ensure a comprehensive approach to treating elbow hyperextension and other injuries. When you visit one of our Chicago physical therapy clinics, our team of highly skilled specialists will work together to help you overcome your elbow hyperextension and improve your quality of life.

✅Preventive Approach

Apart from helping you deal with your elbow hyperextension symptoms, physical therapy can also help reduce the risk of re-injury. With physical therapy, you can control your health by embracing proactive measures to protect your elbows from hyperextension and other injuries. One way physical therapy can help you prevent the risk of another injury is by enabling you to understand how to maintain proper body mechanics during exercises and everyday activities. Moreover, your physical therapy doctors will also train you on gradual progression and protective gear. Above all, physical therapy can help reduce the risk of another injury by strengthening the muscles and bones around your elbows.

✅Non-Invasive Approach

You should consider physical therapy if you prefer a non-invasive approach to dealing with elbow hyperextension. Unlike other common treatments that involve medications and invasive procedures, physical therapy can help you manage and overcome elbow hyperextension through natural healing and restoration. When you choose physical therapy, you will be given a set of targeted exercises that are carefully selected to address your unique situation. These exercises can promote joint stability, flexibility, and muscle strength without invasive techniques.

Besides, physical therapy also involves manual techniques like stretching, soft tissue manipulation, joint mobilization, and more to alleviate pain and improve joint mechanics. Other non-invasive modalities might include electrical stimulation, patient education, heat, and ice therapy.

✅Post Surgical Rehabilitation

Physical therapy can help you return to your everyday life if you have undergone surgery. Post-surgical physical therapy will also enable you to regain strength and range of motion. Embracing physical therapy helps prevent muscle atrophy, blood clots, joint stiffness, and other complications associated with prolonged immobilization after surgery. Above all, physical therapy can help prevent reinjury by strengthening surrounding muscles and improving your elbow’s range of motion and strength.

Workplace injuries are common and lead to many lost days of work. If you suspect you have experienced an elbow hyperextension injury at work, contact the staff at La Clinica to schedule an appointment for injury diagnosis and treatment.