The Elbow Joint is the most complex joint in the body. In order for it to recover to its best function consistent rehabilitation is essential in order to obtain the optimal outcome after injury. It is important that this be carefully carried out under the supervision of a therapist.
Injuries to the elbow can be very painful and this can cause difficulties with completing the required exercises. Stiffness can often occur after injury. A well supervised rehabilitation program can minimise the effect of this.
Before embarking on rehabilitation program be sure that your therapist is aware of the nature and extent of the injury. Each elbow needs specific rehabilitation based on the injury type and nature of surgery performed.
Generally patients who have had operative management of an elbow fracture will have either a bulky bandage or a plaster at 80-90 deg of flexion. During the first 10 days the wound should rest. Small elbow movement’s inline with the post-operative instructions may be begun, during this period. Full range of motion and aggressive rehabilitation should be avoided until the wound has healed.
Fractures that are stable after operation should start rehabilitation at 2 weeks. From 2-4 weeks pain medication should be taken regularly as prescribed. Not waiting for pain to be present will allow movement of the elbow to begin helping to minimising stiffness. It is best to do exercises on a frequent basis through the day. Multiple sessions of short duration are better than longer sessions done only once or twice.
Dislocations, which are suitable after operation, should start rehabilitation at 2 weeks unless otherwise directed. From 2-4 weeks pain medication should be taken regularly as prescribed. Not waiting for pain to be present will allow movement of the elbow to begin helping to minimising stiffness. It is best to do exercises on a regular basis through the day. Multiple sessions of short duration are better than longer sessions done only once.
Swelling is often a problem after elbow injury. To minimise the effect of the swelling the elbow should be elevated above heart level whenever possible. During the initial 1-2 weeks when asleep and awake the elbow should be supported on pillows to achieve this. Ice may be applied several times a day for 20 mins and is an excellent pain-relieving agent.