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, or 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
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 out-sole 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 then 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.
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.