Elbow Strains and Sprains: 3 Severity Grades You Must Know and Understand

elbow sprain and strain

You’d be kidding yourself if you think that you can go your entire life without suffering from some form of elbow discomfort or pain.

Just stop a think for a second how many times a day you bend your arm and grip/squeeze or hold an object in your hand.

Now multiply that by 365 days a year and times that by your age!

A huge number I bet!

Elbow sprains and strains are extremely common.

Now you might be wondering:

What is the difference between a strain and sprain?

Am I right?

An elbow strain is when your forearm flexor or extensor muscles are stretched beyond their normal range and become torn.

Many people simply refer to a strain as a “muscle pull” or “pulled muscle”.

Click here to learn more about strains to your elbow.

Elbow injuries such as these are usually caused by overworking the muscles in your forearm or some sort of blunt force trauma to your elbow such as falling on your elbow.

An elbow sprain is when you stretch or tear one, two or all three ligaments which provide support for your elbow.

The ligaments which hold your elbow bones together are the medial, lateral and annular ligaments.

A sprain to your elbow usually occurs when you trip, stumble and fall onto your outstretched arm, you strike your elbow on a hard surface or your forearm over twists.

As far as symptoms go, this can be challenging for the simple fact that these two injuries have very similar symptoms in common such as:

  • pain and discomfort when bending your elbow
  • bruising around the elbow
  • inflammation and swelling around the affected elbow

But here is how you can decipher between the 2 injuries:

Elbow strain – your forearm muscles spasm from time to time and pressing down firmly on your forearm muscles gives a cracking sound or sensation.

elbow muscle strain

Elbow sprain – your elbow may feel warm or even hot and you can only straighten and/or extend your arm so far without experiencing severe elbow pain or tightness in your forearm.

elbow ligaments sprain

But here’s what you must get about these injuries:

Most individuals don’t realize that the key to a successful recovery from these common elbow injuries is knowing the severity of your injury.

Doctors and Medical Professionals classify your sprain and strains based on the severity of your injury.

There are 3 grade levels for both strains and sprains:

Grade I Strain – slight pull of your forearm muscles without any indication of tearing.  You maintain the same level of strength in your arm.

Grade II Strain – muscle fibers and/or tendons are torn.  There is a noticeable decrease in arm strength.

Grade III Strain – complete tear of muscle and tendon fibres.  Can only be repaired with surgery.

Grade I Sprain – ligaments are stretched and/or micro tearing occurs.

Grade II Sprain – elbow joint has signs of instability and there is partial tearing of the elbow ligaments.

Grade III Sprain – severe elbow joint instability with complete tearing of ligament tissues.

You can go here to find out more on elbow sprains, symptoms and causes.

But that’s only part of the story …

Because there are 2 other elbow injuries that you really need to dig a little deeper into and deserve closer inspection.

Let me explain.

If your elbow pain can be traced back to perform repetitive tasks on a daily or weekly basis.

And it doesn’t have to involve movements or actions that are strenuous or require brut strength or force.

Especially if you are constantly gripping, squeezing or holding an object in your hand.

For example using a shovel, rake, hammer, screwdrivers, power tools, playing a racquet sport, 8 hours a day typing on a keyboard or any other action or activity that requires a tight grip.

Then there is a high probability that you don’t have a strain or sprain at your elbow.

Related Post: What Pain In the Muscles Around Your Elbow Could Mean

Golfers or tennis elbow could be the cause of your misery.

Pain that is located on the inner part of your elbow that gets worse when you squeeze an object is a sign of golfers elbow.

Your inner elbow should be tender to the touch and can be inflamed depending on how long you’ve had your injury.

Tennis elbow has the same symptoms as golfers elbow but the tissues which are damaged lie on the outside of your elbow/upper forearm.

It is caused by performing repetitive activities over an extended period of time which results in small micro tears of the extensor tendon near the elbow.

You may have noticed that your arm is hard to fully extend and you drop things more often than you did before.

Everyday tasks such as holding your hot cup of java or even shaking a colleagues hand results in elbow discomfort.

And tennis elbow is the number one repetitive strain injury that affects the the outside of the elbow.

Does this describe you?

As you can see, it is easy to get confused as to which elbow condition you may be suffering from.

But if you are noticing outer elbow pain that has been gradually getting worse over time, then I can say with confidence – you most likely have tennis elbow.

The problem with trying to recover from an injury such as tennis elbow, is that most people resort to popping anti-inflammatory pills as a treatment option.

This is not how you heal or recover from a tendon or muscle injury.

To make matters worse, if you decide to take the ‘wait and see’ approach and simply pop pills, your elbow strain, pain and symptoms will only get worse, until you completely tear the tendon away from the bone – then you’re looking at surgery.

You don’t need to fork over hundreds of dollars from your life savings on Doctors or Physiotherapy to recover from tennis elbow.

Forget about popping anti-inflammatory pills on a daily basis that really only masks the pain and does nothing to treat the root cause.

You don’t have to wear bulky elbow braces, straps or bands that only promote muscle atrophy and weakness.

Never worry about invasive cortisone shots or the knife wielding elbow surgeon!

Click on the button below where a short video will quickly explain and educate you not only on tennis elbow but show you 5 steps you can do right now to stop your pain and recovery at home quickly.

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